Common name: False spider mites, flat mites.
Morphology: False spider mites are usually red to yellow, with flat bodies, about 0.3-0.4 mm in length. They have strongly-recurved whip-like chelicerae, palpi with 1-5 segments, whose tarsus lacks a thumb-claw complex and short legs with sometimes modified empodia. The dorsum usually bears a reduced number of setae and two pairs of eyes.
Ecology: The Tenuipalpidae are sensitive to arid conditions, usually preferring to feed on the lower sides of leaves near the veins, at protected sites on fruits, also occurring on plant bark and in galls. Most species have a narrow host plant range, but a few are very polyphagous.
Life cycle: Most investigated tenuipalpids require 3-4 weeks at ca 25°C to complete a generation, and usually deposit about 30-50 eggs/female. Reproduction is usually by arrhenotoky, although a few species are parthenogenetic. A member of the Brevipalpus phoenicis species complex appears to consist only of haploid females, due to the destruction of the male genome by the bacterium Cardinium.
Economic importance: All Tenuipalpidae are phytophagous and several are pests of crops, including (in the Middle East) citrus, grapes and pomegranate. Their feeding causes leaf mottling and necrosis, fruit blistering and deformation, and may reduce yields. In rare cases false spider mites induce the formation of galls. In Florida and in South America several species of the genus Brevipalpus transmit plant viruses (e.g. leprosis).
False spider mite pests included in this compendium
Beard, J.J. (and 6 co-autors). 2013 Flat Mites of the World. Edition 2. Identification Technology Program, CPHST, PPQ, APHIS, USDA Fort Collins, Colorado. Available from: www.idtools.org/id/mites/flatmites/index.php
Beard, J.J., Ochoa, R., Braswell, W.E. and Bauchan, G.R. 2015. Brevipalpus phoenicis (Geijskes) species complex (Acari: Tenuipalpidae) — a closer look. Zootaxa 3944: 1-67.
Childers, C.C. and Derrick, K.S. 2003. Brevipalpus mites as vectors of unassigned rhabdoviruses in various crops. Experimental and Applied Acarology 30: 1-3.
Çobanoğlu, S., Ueckermann, E.A. and Sağlam, H.D. 2016. The Tenuipalpidae of Turkey, with a key to species (Acari: Trombidiformes). Zootaxa 4097: 151-186.
Gerson, U. 2008. The Tenuipalpidae: An under-explored family of plant-feeding mites. Systematic & Applied Acarology 13: 83–101.
Mesa,N.C., Ochoa, R., Welbourn, W.C., Evans, G.A. and De Moraes, G.J. 2009. A catalog of the Tenuipalpidae (Acari) of the world with a key to genera. Zootaxa 2098: 1-185.
Meyer Smith, M.K.P. 1979. The Tenuipalpidae (Acari) of Africa with keys to the world genera. Entomology Memoir, Department of Agricultural Technical Services, Republic of South Africa 50: 1-135.
Navia, D. (and 6 co-authors). 2013. Cryptic diversity in Brevipalpus mites (Tenuipalpidae). Zoologica Scripta_ 42: 406-426.
Ueckermann, E.A., Palevsky, E., Gerson, U., Recht, E. and Theron, P.D. 2018. The Tenuipalpidae (Acari: Trombidiformes) of Israel. Acarologia 58: 483-525.
Weeks, A.R., Marec, F. and Breeuwer, J.A.J. 2001. A mite that consists entirely of haploid females. Science 292: 2479-2482.