Tomato Russet Mite: Symptoms and Control

Tomato Russet Mite

The tomato russet mite (Aculops lycopersici, also referred to as Vasates lycopersici, Vasates destructor and Phyllocoptes destructor in older publications) belongs to the family Eriophyidae. It does not produce galls but lives freely (vagrant) on tomato plants.

Aculops lycopersici was detected for the first time in Australia and is a pest in tomatoes in all areas where they are grown. Other members of the plant family Solanaceae may be affected to a lesser extent.

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Aculops lycopersici (Tryon, 1917)

Preferred Common Name

  • tomato russet mite

Other Scientific Names

  • Aceria lycopersici
  • Aculops destructor
  • Aculops lycopersicae
  • Aculus destructor (Keifer, 1940)
  • Aculus lycopersici (Tryon, 1917)
  • Eriophyes lycopersici
  • Phyllocoptes destructor (Keifer, 1940)
  • Phyllocoptes lycopersici (Tryon, 1917)
  • Vasates destructor (Keifer, 1940)
  • Vasates lycopersici (Tryon, 1917)

International Common Names

  • English: tomato mite
  • Spanish: acaro de la roseta del tomate; acaro de la roseta del tomato (Mexico); acaro del tomate; acaro tostador de la tomate; canelilla de la roseta del tomato (Mexico); deca de los tomates
  • French: acarien de la tomate; acariose bronzée de la tomate

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Milbe, Tomaten-; Tomaten-Milbe

EPPO code

  • VASALY (Aculops lycopersici)

Pictures

Picture Title Caption Copyright
Feeding by A. lycopersici on the foliage, inflorescence and young fruit of tomato plants causes shrivelling and necrosis of leaves, dropping of flowers, russeting of fruit and, if uncontrolled, death of the plants. Damage symptoms on tomato plant Feeding by A. lycopersici on the foliage, inflorescence and young fruit of tomato plants causes shrivelling and necrosis of leaves, dropping of flowers, russeting of fruit and, if uncontrolled, death of the plants. From Keifer et al., 1982
Line artwork of A. lycopersici, adult female: A, lateral view; B, featherclaw; C, dorsal view of prodorsal shield region; D, detail of microtubercles; E, internal genitalia; F, coxae and genital region; G, lateral view of legs. Adult female Line artwork of A. lycopersici, adult female: A, lateral view; B, featherclaw; C, dorsal view of prodorsal shield region; D, detail of microtubercles; E, internal genitalia; F, coxae and genital region; G, lateral view of legs. From Keifer, 1946

Life cycle and appearance of tomato russet mite

All life stages of the tomato russet mite are extremely small and difficult to observe. They are elongated (torpedo-shaped), soft and segmented. The body appears to be divided into two parts: the head with the mouthparts, and the rest of the body. All mobile stages have only two pairs of legs, whereas other mite groups have four pairs.

Eggs are roughly 0.05 mm in diameter and are laid on the underside of leaves, on leaf petioles, and on stems on the lower portion of plants. When newly laid they are creamy white but turn to a patchy yellow as they age. The mites have two nymphal stages: sometimes they are also called larva (1st stage) and nymph (2nd stage). The first nymphal stage is a transparent white colour and about 0.1 mm long.

They usually develop to the 2nd stage within a day. All life stages look very similar. The adults develop after about two or three days. They are cream to orange-yellow in colour, wedge-shaped and very small (roughly 0.17 mm in length), with males being slightly smaller than the females.

1. Egg





1. Egg
2. Larva






2. Larva
3. First instar nymph
3. First instar nymph
4. Second instar nymph









4. Second instar nymph
5. Adult
5. Adult
 
 

Damage symptoms

Damage is caused by the mites sucking out the contents of plant cells. Affected leaves are slightly curled and acquire a silvery sheen on the underside. Later they become brown and brittle. Badly affected tomato leaves and stems lose their trichomes (leaf hairs). Affected stems turn a rusty brown colour, and in serious cases they may snap.

The fruit can also be affected, and when this happens in tomatoes, the skin becomes coarse and turns reddish brown and the fruit itself is sometimes deformed. Considerable damage can occur, especially at high temperatures when population growth is most rapid and affected leaves dry out quickly. The damage is first seen on the lower part of the plant and moves upwards as the mites ascend.

Botanical Name: Aculops lycopersici

Crops it affects: Tomato

Description: this is a small mite, invisible with naked eye which attacks the green part of the plant.

Read Also: PLANTING, GROWING, AND HARVESTING TOMATOES

Symptoms and Damage

Some of the symptoms that are being displayed by the plants when being affected by this disease include:

  • Leaves turn yellow and dry from the top

  • Brown areas appear on stem
  •  
  • Attacked fruits have a cracked aspect and keep a small size

Damage Prevention

They can be prevented through the following means:

  • Favor sprinkling irrigation on leaves
  • Apply specific and systematic preventive acaricid
  • Remove crop residue after harvest

Related: 4 Steps to help an Orange Tree Produce Sweet Oranges

Here are some amazing tomatoe farming books and other tomato products to assist you further:

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