Experimental and Applied Acarology

, Volume 57, Issue 3–4, pp 291–308 | Cite as

Spatial distributions of the red palm mite, Raoiella indica (Acari: Tenuipalpidae) on coconut and their implications for development of efficient sampling plans

  • A. RodaEmail author
  • G. Nachman
  • F. Hosein
  • J. C. V. Rodrigues
  • J. E. Peña


The red palm mite (Raoiella indica), an invasive pest of coconut, entered the Western hemisphere in 2004, then rapidly spread through the Caribbean and into Florida, USA. Developing effective sampling methods may aid in the timely detection of the pest in a new area. Studies were conducted to provide and compare intra tree spatial distribution of red palm mite populations on coconut in two different geographical areas, Trinidad and Puerto Rico, recently invaded by the mite. The middle stratum of a palm hosted significantly more mites than fronds from the upper or lower canopy and fronds from the lower stratum, on average, had significantly fewer mites than the two other strata. The mite populations did not vary within a frond. Mite densities on the top section of the pinna had significantly lower mite densities than the two other sections, which were not significantly different from each other. In order to improve future sampling plans for the red palm mite, the data was used to estimate the variance components associated with the various levels of the hierarchical sampling design. Additionally, presence-absence data were used to investigate the probability of no mites being present in a pinna section randomly chosen from a frond inhabited by mites at a certain density. Our results show that the most precise density estimate at the plantation level is to sample one pinna section per tree from as many trees as possible.


Raoiella Red palm mite Tenuipalpidae Invasive mite Spatial distribution Dispersion Taylor’s power law 



We are grateful to Philippe Agostini and the ARS Subtropical Horticulture Research Station for providing access to their coconut palms and Puerto Rico USDA APHIS PPQ and PRDA for assistance with field work and access to laboratory facilities. We thank Y. Ali, B. Baalam, D. Long, W. DeChi, R. Duncan, A. Francis, N. Gabriel, R. Gonzales, K. Harradan, S. Maraj, C. Mannion, R. Ochoa, P. Perez, N. Raj P. Siew, and S. Weihman for their help.


  1. Cochran WG (1977) Sampling techniques, 3rd edn. Wiley, New York, NY, USAGoogle Scholar
  2. Etienne J, Fletchmann CHW (2006) First record of Raoiella indica (Hirst, 1924) (Acari:Tenuipalpidae) in Guadeloupe and Saint Martin, West Indies. Int J Acarol 32:331–332Google Scholar
  3. Feiber D, Lemon N (2007) Red Palm mite infestation detected in Palm gardens. Florida Department of Agriculture, Department Press Release. Accessed 5 April 2010
  4. Jepson L, Keifer H, Baker E (1975) Mites injurious to economic plants. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  5. Kane E, Ochoa R (2006) Detection and identification of the red palm mite Raoiella indica Hirst (Acari:Tenuipalpidae). USDA, ARS, Beltsville, MD.
  6. Kilpatrick AM, Ives AR (2003) Species interactions can explain Taylor’s power law for ecological time series. Nature 422:65–68PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Nachman G (1981) A mathematical model of the functional relationship between density and spatial distribution of a population. J Anim Ecol 50:453–460Google Scholar
  8. Nachman G (1984) Estimates of mean population density and spatial distribution of Tetranychus urticae (Acarina: Tetranychidae) and Phytoseiulus persimilis (Acarina: Phytoseiidae) based upon the proportion of empty sampling units. J Appl Ecol 21:903–913CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Nageshachandra BK, Channabasavanna GP (1984) Development and ecology of Raoiella indica Hirst (Acari: Tenuipalpidae) on coconut. In Griffiths DA, Bowman CE (eds) Acarology VI, pp 785–790Google Scholar
  10. Opit GP, Margolies DC, Nechols JR (2003) Within-plant distribution of twospotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae Koch (Acari: Tetranychidae), on Ivy Geranium: development of a presence-absence sampling plan. J Econ Entomol 96:482–488PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Peña J, Baranowski R (1990) Dispersion indices and sampling plans for the broad mite (Acari: Tarsonemidae) and the Citrus rust mite (Acari: Eriophyidae) on limes. Environ Entomol 19:378–382Google Scholar
  12. Peña J, Rodrigues J, Roda A, Carrillo D, Osborne L (2009) Predator-prey dynamics and strategies for control of the red palm mite (Raoiella indica) (Acari: Tenuipalpidae) in areas of invasion in the Neotropics. IOBC Bulletin 50:69–79Google Scholar
  13. Pielou DP (1960) Contagious distribution in the European Red Mite Panonychus ulmi (Koch), and a method on grading population densities from a count of mite-free leaves. Can J Zool 38:645–653CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Roda A, Dowling A, Welbourn C, Peña J, Rodrigues JC, Hoy M, Ochoa R, Duncan R, De Chi W (2008) Red palm mite situation in the Caribbean and Florida. Proc Caribbean Food Crops Soc 44:80–87Google Scholar
  15. Rodrigues J, Ochoa R, Kane E (2007) First report of Raoiella indica Hirst (Acari: Tenuipalpidae) and its damage to coconut palms in Puerto Rico and Culebra island. Internat J Acarol 33:3–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. SAS Institute Inc (2003) SAS 9.1 for Windows. Cary, NC, USAGoogle Scholar
  17. SAS Institute Inc (2008) JMP 8.0.2 for Windows. SAS Institute 2008Google Scholar
  18. Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1995) Biometry, 3rd edn. Freeman, New York, NY, USAGoogle Scholar
  19. Southwood T (1978) Ecological methods, with particular reference to the study of insect populations, 2nd edn. Chapman & Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Taylor LR (1961) Aggregation, variance and the mean. Nature 189:732–735CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Taylor LR (1984) Assessing and interpreting the spatial distributions of insect populations. Annu Rev Entomol 29:321–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Vásquez C, de Magally Quirós GM, Aponte O, María D, Sandoval F (2008) First report of Raoiella indica Hirst (Acari: Tenuipalpidae) in South America. Neotrop Entomol 37:739–740PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Walzer A, Moder K, Schausberger P (2009) Spatiotemporal within-plant distribution of the spidermite Tetranychus urticae and associated specialist and generalist predators. Bull Entomol Res 99:457–486PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Weibull W (1951) A statistical distribution function of wide applicability. J Appl Mech 18:293–297Google Scholar
  25. Wilson LT, Gonzalez D, Leigh TF, Maggi V, Foristiere C, Goodell P (1983) Within-plant distribution of spider mites (Acari: Tetranychidae) on cotton: a developing implementable monitoring program. Environ Entomol 12:128–134Google Scholar
  26. Yadav Babu R, Manjunatha M (2007) Seasonal incidence of mite population in Arecanut. Karnataka J Agric Sci 20:401–402Google Scholar
  27. Zalom F, Kennett C, O’Connell N, Flaherty D, Morse J, Wilson L (1985) Distribution of Panonychus citri and Euseius tularensis on Central California USA orange trees with implications for binomial sampling. Agric Ecosyst Environ 14:119–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. (outside the USA) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Roda
    • 1
    Email author
  • G. Nachman
    • 2
  • F. Hosein
    • 4
  • J. C. V. Rodrigues
    • 5
    • 6
  • J. E. Peña
    • 3
  2. 2.Section of Ecology and Evolution, Department of BiologyUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Entomology and NematologyUniversity of FloridaHomesteadUSA
  4. 4.Research DivisionMALMRCentenoTrinidad and Tobago
  5. 5.Crops and Agro-Environmental Sciences Department, Agricultural Experimental StationUniversity of Puerto RicoSan JuanUSA
  6. 6.Center for Applied Tropical Ecology and Conservation (CATEC, CREST-NSF)San JuanUSA

Personalised recommendations