Experimental and Applied Acarology

, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 25–38 | Cite as

Do plant mites commonly prefer the underside of leaves?

  • Masaaki SudoEmail author
  • Masahiro Osakabe


The adaxial (upper) and abaxial (lower) surfaces of a plant leaf provide heterogeneous habitats for small arthropods with different environmental conditions, such as light, humidity, and surface morphology. As for plant mites, some agricultural pest species and their natural enemies have been observed to favor the abaxial leaf surface, which is considered an adaptation to avoid rain or solar ultraviolet radiation. However, whether such a preference for the leaf underside is a common behavioral trait in mites on wild vegetation remains unknown. The authors conducted a 2-year survey on the foliar mite assemblage found on Viburnum erosum var. punctatum, a deciduous shrub on which several mite taxa occur throughout the seasons, and 14 sympatric tree or shrub species in secondary broadleaf-forest sites in Kyoto, west–central Japan. We compared adaxial–abaxial surface distributions of mites among mite taxa, seasons, and morphology of host leaves (presence/absence of hairs and domatia). On V. erosum var. punctatum, seven of 11 distinguished mite taxa were significantly distributed in favor of abaxial leaf surfaces and the trend was seasonally stable, except for Eriophyoidea. Mite assemblages on 15 plant species were significantly biased towards the abaxial leaf surfaces, regardless of surface morphology. Our data suggest that many mite taxa commonly prefer to stay on abaxial leaf surfaces in wild vegetation. Oribatida displayed a relatively neutral distribution, and in Tenuipalpidae, the ratio of eggs collected from the adaxial versus the abaxial side was significantly higher than the ratio of the motile individuals, implying that some mite taxa exploit adaxial leaf surfaces as habitat.


Habitat heterogeneity Adaxial–abaxial distribution Domatia Trichome Behavioral adaptation 



We thank Dr. K. Okabe, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, and Prof. H. Amano, Kyoto University, for identification of mites. We are also grateful to Dr. T. Itioka, Kyoto University, and Dr. S. Nishida, Nagoya University Museum, for their methodological guidance; and Dr. S. Yano, Kyoto University, for his valuable suggestions. This study was partially supported by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B) No. 22380036 to OM from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan.


  1. Chien JC, Sussex IM (1996) Differential regulation of trichome formation on the adaxial and abaxial leaf surfaces by gibberellins and photoperiod in Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. Plant Physiol 111:1321–1328PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Duso C (1992) Role of Amblyseius aberrans (Oud.), Typhlodromus pyri Scheuten and Amblyseius andersoni (Chant) (Acari, Phytoseiidae) in vineyards. J Appl Entomol 114:455–462. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0418.1992.tb01151.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ehara S (ed) (1980) Illustrations of the mites and ticks of Japan. Zenkoku Noson Kyoiku Kyokai, Tokyo (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  4. Ehara S (ed) (1993) Plant mites of Japan in colors. Zenkoku Noson Kyoiku Kyokai, Tokyo (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  5. Ehara S, Gotoh T (eds) (2009) Colored guide to the plant mites of Japan. Zenkoku Noson Kyoiku Kyokai, Tokyo (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  6. Fournier V, Rosenheim JA, Brodeur J, Marshall WJ (2004) Population dynamics and within-plant distribution of the mite Calacarus flagelliseta (Acari: Eriophyidae) on papaya in Hawaii. J Econ Entomol 97(5):1563–1569. doi: 10.1603/0022-0493-97.5.1563 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Grostal P, O’Dowd DJ (1994) Plants, mites and mutualism: leaf domatia and the abundance and reproduction of mites on Viburnum tinus (Caprifoliaceae). Oecologia 97:308–315. doi: 10.1007/BF00317319 Google Scholar
  8. Gutschick VP (1999) Biotic and abiotic consequences of differences in leaf structure. New Phytol 143:3–18. doi: 10.1046/j.1469-8137.1999.00423.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Izaguirre MM, Mazza CA, Svatoš A, Baldwin IT, Ballaré CL (2007) Solar ultraviolet-B radiation and insect herbivory trigger partially overlapping phenolic responses in Nicotiana attenuata and Nicotiana longiflora. Ann Bot 99:103–109. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcl226 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Jeppson LR (1975) Chapter 2. Population ecology. In: Jeppson LR, Keifer HH, Baker EW (eds) Mites injurious to economic plants. University of Carifornia Press, Berkeley, Carifornia, pp 17–46Google Scholar
  11. Johnson HB (1975) Plant pubescence: an ecological perspective. Bot Rev 41(3):233–258. doi: 10.1007/BF02860838 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kasai A, Yano S, Takafuji A (2005) Prey-predator mutualism in a tritrophic system on a camphor tree. Ecol Res 20(2):163–166. doi: 10.1007/s11284-004-0030-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kreiter S, Tixier MS, Croft BA, Auger P, Barret D (2002) Plants and leaf characteristics influencing the predaceous mite Kampimodromus aberrans (Acari: Phytoseiidae) in habitats surrounding vineyards. Environ Entomol 31(4):648–660. doi: 10.1603/0046-225X-31.4.648 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Krips OE, Kleijn PW, Willems PEL, Gols GJZ, Dicke M (1999) Leaf hairs influence searching efficiency and predation rate of the predatory mite Phytoseiulus persimilis (Acari: Phytoseiidae). Exp Appl Acarol 23:119–131. doi: 10.1023/A:1006098410165 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Li J, Margolies DC (1991) Factors affecting location of Banks grass mite, Oligonychus pratensis (Acari: Tetranychidae), on corn leaves. Exp Appl Acarol 12:27–34. doi: 10.1007/BF01204397 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. McMurtry JA, Croft BA (1997) Life styles of phytoseiid mites and their roles as biological control agents. Annu Rev Entomol 42:291–321. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ento.42.1.291 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Newsham KK, Low MNR, McLeod AR, Greenslade PD, Emmett BA (1997) Ultraviolet-B radiation influences the abundance and distribution of phylloplane fungi on pedunculate oak (Quercus robur). New Phytol 136:287–297. doi: 10.1046/j.1469-8137.1997.00740.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Nishida S (2004) Morphology and function of domatia. Bunrui 4(2):137–150 (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  19. Norton AP, English-Loeb G, Belden E (2001) Host plant manipulation of natural enemies: leaf domatia protect beneficial mites from insect predators. Oecologia 126(4):535–542. doi: 10.1007/s004420000556 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. O’Dowd DJ, Pemberton RW (1998) Leaf domatia and foliar mite abundance in broadleaf deciduous forest of north Asia. Am J Bot 85(1):70–78PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. O’Dowd DJ, Willson MF (1989) Leaf domatia and mites on Australasian plants: ecological and evolutionary implications. Biol J Linn Soc 37(3):191–236. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.1989.tb01901.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ohtsuka K, Osakabe Mh (2009) Deleterious effects of UV-B radiation on herbivorous spider mites: they can avoid it by remaining on lower leaf surfaces. Environ Entomol 38(3):920–929. doi: 10.1603/022.038.0346 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Okabe K (2006) Astigmatid mites damaging agricultural crops (1). Plant Protection 60(6):233–236 (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  24. Oku K, Yano S, Takafuji A (2006) Host plant acceptance by the phytophagous mite Tetranychus kanzawai Kishida is affected by the availability of a refuge on the leaf surface. Ecol Res 21:446–452. doi: 10.1007/s11284-005-0141-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Onzo A, Hanna R, Zannou I, Sabelis MW, Yaninek JS (2003) Dynamics of refuge use: diurnal, vertical migration by predatory and herbivorous mites within cassava plants. Oikos 101(1):59–69. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0706.2003.12572.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Onzo A, Hanna R, Sabelis MW (2009) Within-plant migration of the predatory mite Typhlodromalus aripo from the apex to the leaves of cassava: response to day–night cycle, prey location and prey density. J Insect Behav 22(3):186–195. doi: 10.1007/s10905-008-9164-x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Onzo A, Sabelis MW, Hanna R (2010) Effects of ultraviolet radiation on predatory mites and the role of refuges in plant structures. Environ Entomol 39(2):695–701. doi: 10.1603/EN09206 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Price CE (1980) A review of the factors influencing the penetration of pesticides through plant leaves. In: Cutler DF, Alvin KL, Price CE (eds) Plant cuticle, papers presented at an international symposium organized by the Linnean Society of London, held at Burlington House, London, 8–11 September 1980. Academic Press, London, pp 237–252Google Scholar
  29. R Development Core Team (2009) R: a language and environment for statistical computing, version 2.10.1. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, ViennaGoogle Scholar
  30. Sakai Y, Osakabe M (2010) Spectrum-specific damage and solar ultraviolet radiation avoidance in the two-spotted spider mite. Photochem Photobiol 86:925–932. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-1097.2010.00739.x PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sudo M, Nishida S, Itioka T (2010) Seasonal fluctuations in foliar mite populations on Viburnum erosum Thunb. var. punctatum Franch. et Sav. (Adoxaceae) and sympatric shrubs in temperate secondary forests in western Japan. Appl Entomol Zool 45(3):405–415. doi: 10.1303/aez.2010.405 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Suzuki T, Takeshima T, Izawa N, Watanabe M, Takeda M (2008) UV radiation elevates arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase activity and melatonin content in the two-spotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae. J Insect Physiol 54(7):1168–1174. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2008.06.005 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Suzuki T, Watanabe M, Takeda M (2009) UV tolerance in the two-spotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae. J Insect Physiol 55(7):649–654. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2009.04.005 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Venables WN, Ripley BD (2002) Modern applied statistics with S, 4th edn. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  35. Villanueva RT, Childers CC (2005) Diurnal and spatial patterns of Phytoseiidae in the citrus tree canopy. Exp Appl Acarol 35:269–280. doi: 10.1007/s10493-004-5728-4 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Walter DE (1996) Living on leaves: mites, tomenta, and leaf domatia. Annu Rev Entomol 41:101–114PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Walter DE, Behan-Pelletier V (1999) Mites in forest canopies: filling the size distribution shortfall? Ann Rev Entomol 44:1–19. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ento.44.1.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Walter DE, Proctor HC (1999) Mites: ecology, evolution, and behaviour. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, OxonGoogle Scholar
  39. Watanabe H (1997) Estimation of arboreal and terrestrial arthropod densities in the forest canopy as measured by insecticide smoking. In: Stork NE, Adis J, Didham RK (eds) Canopy arthropods. Chapman & Hall, London, pp 401–414Google Scholar
  40. Weintraub PG, Kleitman S, Alchanatis V, Palevsky E (2007) Factors affecting the distribution of a predatory mite on greenhouse sweet pepper. Exp Appl Acarol 42(1):23–35. doi: 10.1007/s10493-007-9077-y PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of AgricultureKyoto UniversitySakyo-kuJapan

Personalised recommendations