EPPO Global Database

EPPO Reporting Service no. 01 - 2006 Num. article: 2006/009

First report of Raoiella indica in Martinique: addition to the EPPO Alert List

Dr Etienne brought to the attention of the EPPO Secretariat the recent introduction of Raoiella indica (Acari: Tenuipalpidae) in Martinique. This mite pest is thought to originate from Asia and it is feared that it could spread within the Caribbean Basin. R. indica is mainly a pest of palm species. Although, much data is lacking on its geographical distribution, host range and biology, the EPPO Secretariat felt that it could be added to the Alert List considering that it could be a threat to the palm nursery industry and date palm production in the EPPO region.

Raoiella indica (Acari: Tenuipalpidae) – red palm mite
Why: Dr Etienne (INRA, Guadeloupe) reported to the EPPO Secretariat the recent introduction of Roiella indica in Martinique. In particular, this mite species is considered as a pest of numerous palm species and therefore may represent a threat to nurseries producing ornamental palms and to date palm crops in the EPPO region.

EPPO region: Egypt, Israel, Russia (single doubtful record dated 1979).
Africa: Egypt, Mauritius, Réunion, Sudan.
Asia: India, Iran, Israel, Oman, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates.
Caribbean: Martinique (first reported in 2004; indoors on the ornamental palm species Veitchia merrillii, and outdoors on Cocos nucifera). Also recently found in Dominica and Saint Lucia on coconut and Musa. More data is needed on the geographical distribution.

On which plants: R. indica can attack several palm species, in particular: Cocos nucifera, Phoenix dactylifera, Areca catechu, and ornamental species such as Dictyosperma album, Syagrus ramanzoffiana, Veitchia merrillii. It has recently been found in the Caribbean damaging Musa species (M. balbisiana, M. acuminata, Musa x paradisiaca). There are also records on Ocimum basilicum. More studies would be needed on its host range, as it appears to be able to feed on many different types of plants.

Damage: R. indica is usually found on the under side of the leaves. Affected palm plants can show from scattered yellow spots on both surfaces of the leaflets to a strong yellowish discoloration of the entire leaflet. For example, severely attacked coconut trees show entirely yellow leaves, particularly on the lower third part of the plant. On banana and plantain, lower leaves turn yellow with small patchy-green yellow areas. All active stages of this mite are dark red in colour, with black markings. Adult females are oval (up to 0.32 mm long x 0.22 mm large). R. indica is considered as an important pest of coconut and Areca catechu in India, and of Phoenix dactylifera in Egypt and Sudan. It is reported as feeding and damaging Musa spp. in Saint Lucia and Dominica.

Dissemination: Wind currents and trade of infested plants can ensure mite dispersal.

Pathway: Plants for planting, cut branches of host plants.

Possible risks: Palm species such as P. dactylifera are important for fruit production in North Africa. Ornamental palms are widely grown around the Mediterranean Basin, and are increasingly traded and used indoors in northern countries. Musa is grown in limited parts of the EPPO region, but is there a valuable crop. Control measures may be available (for example, chemical efficacy is studied in India, several predator species are reported from the literature), but mite control is likely to be difficult in practice, especially on large plants. In the Americas, P. indica is clearly considered as a new invasive pest which threatens ornamental palms, coconut and banana plantations. For the Euro-Mediterranean region, more data would be needed on the situation in Egypt and Israel, as there is no clear indication from the literature that it is very damaging there and that it is currently disseminating. However, it seems desirable to avoid any further spread of P. indica, particularly on plants for planting, as this pest could cause problems to date palm production and ornamental palm nurseries.

EPPO RS 2006/009
Panel review date        -        Entry date 2006-01


Flechtmann CHW, Etienne J (2004) The red palm mite, Raoiella indica Hirst, a threat to palms in the Americas (Acari: Prostigmata: Tenuipalpidae). Systematic & Applied Acarology 9, 109-110.
Flechtmann CHW, Etienne J (2005) Un nouvel acarien ravageur des palmiers. En Martinique premier signalement de Raoiella indica pour les Caraïbes. Phytoma – La Défense des Végétaux no. 584, 10-11.
CIRAD website. Ueckermann EA (2004) Taxonomic research in acarology abstract of a paper presented at the Workshop on Biodiversity dynamics on La Reunion Island, 2004-11-29/12-05. http://www.cirad.fr/reunion/content/download/895/4023/file/Atelier
ICARDA website. Crop Protection and IPM. Pests of the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) by M Saeed Gassouma. http://www.icarda.org/APRP/Datepalm/Topics/Pest/Pestright.htm
FAO – International Phytosanitary Portal. Official Pest Report Dominica (2005-11-16). Report of Raoiella indica Hist red palm mite. Raoiella indica in the Americas. https://www.ippc.int/id/nppodm?language=en