The Red Palm Mite??

The Ministry of Agriculture has discovered a new plant pest in Barbados – the Red Palm Mite, known scientifically as Raoiella indica.

This was confirmed yesterday by Head of the Entomology Unit at the Ministry of Agriculture, Ian Gibbs, who pointed out that the pest affected a wide variety of palms (Arecaceae) including the coconut, which is the major host plant.

The discovery was as a result of the continuous surveillance the Ministry had been conducting for some two years. The identification was confirmed by the United States Department of Agriculture, to which digital photos and mite samples were sent.

Mr. Gibbs added that the mite also feeds upon heliconias, ginger lilies, bananas and orchids.

He also assured Barbadians that the Ministry was already devising a plan to combat the mite which includes the importation of a pesticide.

The adult female mites are red, typically with dark patches on the body, and about 0.32 mm long. Males are smaller and triangular in form. The larvae are reddish and sluggish. The eggs are red, small, oblong and smooth and are attached underneath the leaf surface by a slender stalk in patches of 100-300.

If members of the public suspect their plants may be infected by the Red Palm Mite, they are asked to contact Ian Gibbs at the Ministry of Agriculture, Graeme Hall, Christ Church at 434-5103 or Brett Taylor at 310-2821.

Author: Andr?? Skeete

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