Pest of the Month March 2009 – Red Palm Mite (Pest Alert)

  • Description: Red Palm Mite (RPM) is a bright red mite with long body hairs, usually with a drop of liquid at the tip of the hair. The body is flat.
  • Range: Native to tropical and subtropical southeast Asia and the Middle East. Expanded range includes Caribbean Islands and Florida.
  • Pathways: Extremely easy to spread. Can travel on palm leaf hats and crafts as well as live plant material. Can also move by strong winds.
  • Behavior: RPM live on the underside of leaves, usually along the midrib, where they feed, lay eggs, and breed. Colonies can include several hundred individuals.
  • Hosts: 32 known palm species, bananas, heliconia, gingers, and other monocots. All palm species should be considered potential hosts.
  • Damage: Feeding causes yellowing followed by necrosis. Death of the plant can occur. Damage can be mistaken for “lethal yellowing” or nutrient deficiencies.
  • Control: 1) Biological – some predatory mites and possibly some ladybugs established in Hawaii may feed on RPM. 2) Chemical – insecticide diafenthiuron and other reduced risk pesticides.

Source: Red Palm Mite, Raoiella indica Hurst,  by Janis N. Garcia and Darcy E. Oishi, Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

Adult females of the red palm mite Photo by Rita Duncan, University of Florida