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The coconut mite, Aceria guerreronis, in Benin and Tanzania: occurrence, damage and associated acarine fauna

Abstract

The coconut mite Aceria guerreronis (Eriophyidae) is considered the most important pest of coconut fruits in Africa; however, quantitative knowledge about its distribution and abundance is lacking. We conducted four diagnostic surveys—three in Southern Benin and one along the coast of Tanzania—to determine the distribution of A. guerreronis and the severity of its damage to coconut fruits, as well as the diversity and abundance of other associated mites and potential natural enemies. Aceria guerreronis was found in all visited plantations with the percentage of damaged fruits varying considerably among plantations—67–85% in Benin and 43–81% in Tanzania. Overall, 30–40% of the fruit surfaces were damaged by A. guerreronis. Damage severity increased with fruit age and negatively affected fruit weight of 7- to 12-months-old fruits. Aceria guerreronis was by far the most abundant mite on coconut fruits but its abundance depended on fruit age. The highest densities of A. guerreronis were observed on 3- to 4-months-old fruits. Neocypholaelaps sp. (Ameroseiidae) was the most abundant mite on inflorescences. Three species of predatory mites (Phytoseiidae)—Neoseiulus baraki, N. neobaraki and N. paspalivorus—were the most commonly found predatory mites beneath the coconut bracts in association with A. guerreronis. Neoseiulus neobaraki was the prevailing predator in Tanzania while N. paspalivorus was the most frequent predator in Benin. Other mites found beneath the bracts were the herbivore Steneotarsonemus furcatus (Tarsonemidae) and the detritivore and fungivore Tyrophagus putrescentiae (Acaridae).

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Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to G. J. De Moraes and Ignace Dossa Zannou for their assistance in identifying some of the mites collected during this study. They also thank Beatrice Pallangyo and her team in Kibaha, Tanzania for their support during the survey in Tanzania. We acknowledge coconut growers in Benin and Tanzania and the staff at IITA, Benin for their valuable collaboration and assistance. The research reported in this manuscript was supported by a grant to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) from the Austrian government. K. Negloh was additionally supported by a grant to the University of Amsterdam and IITA from Netherlands Foundation for the Advancement of Tropical Research (WOTRO). The manuscript is part of K. Negloh’s PhD thesis.

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Negloh, K., Hanna, R. & Schausberger, P. The coconut mite, Aceria guerreronis, in Benin and Tanzania: occurrence, damage and associated acarine fauna. Exp Appl Acarol 55, 361 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10493-011-9474-0

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Keywords

  • Cocos nucifera
  • Eriophyidae
  • Phytoseiidae
  • Predatory mites
  • Mite diversity