M.G.C. Gondim Jr.
- Behaviour of Coconut Mites Preceding Take-off to Passive Aerial Dispersal
- Experimental and Applied Acarology
- Volume | Issue number
- 64 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
For more than three decades the coconut mite Aceria guerreronis Keifer is one of the most important pests of coconut palms and has recently spread to many coconut production areas worldwide. Colonization of coconut palms is thought to arise from mites dispersing aerially after take-off from other plants within the same plantation or other plantations. The underlying dispersal behaviour of the mite at take-off, in the airborne state and after landing is largely unknown and this is essential to understand how they spread from tree to tree. In this article we studied whether take-off to aerial dispersal of coconut mites is preceded by characteristic behaviour, whether there is a correlation between the body position preceding aerial dispersal and the direction of the wind, and whether the substrate (outer surface of coconut bracts or epidermis) and the wind speed matter to the decision to take-off. We found that take-off can sometimes be preceded by a raised body stance, but more frequently take-off occurs while the mite is walking or resting on its substrate. Coconut mites that become airborne assumed a body stance that had no relation to the wind direction. Take-off was suppressed on a substrate providing food to coconut mites, but occurred significantly more frequently on the outer surface of coconut bracts than on the surface of the fruit. For both substrates, take-off frequency increased with wind speed. We conclude that coconut mites have at least some degree of control over take-off for aerial dispersal and that there is as yet no reason to infer that a raised body stance is necessary to become airborne.
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