Aculops lycopersici

Aculops lycopersici (Massee)

Taxonomic placing: Acari, Prostigmata, Eriophyoidea, Eriophyidae.

Common name: Tomato russet mite

Geographical distribution: Worldwide; in the Middle East known since the late 1940s. CIE Map # 164, 1987.

Host plants: Many members of the family Solanaceae, especially in the genera Lycopersicum and Solanum. Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis Linnaeus (Convolvulaceae), also serves as host.

Morphology: The mite is spindle-shaped, yellowish, about 0.16-0.18 mm in length, with a pair of backwards-pointing prodorsal setae. The dorsal shield bears two ridges that are parallel along their posterior half but diverge anteriorly. The opisthosoma has about 30 dorsal and 60 ventral rings. The featherclaw is four-rayed.

Life cycle: The mite is a warm-weather leaf vagrant that has no dormancy and dies if exposed to sub-freezing temperatures. Development is also retarded under high humidity conditions at high temperatures. In temperate regions the pest survives winters only within greenhouses, but under warmer conditions A. lycopersici lives out of season on bindweed or on wild Solanaceae. These plants serve as sources for the infestation of crops, reaching them with winds, insects or by clinging to farming implements and personnel. An entire life cycle cn be completed in about one week, each female producing 30-50 progeny. Like other Eriophyidae, reproduction is by arrhenotoky; males deposite spermatophores on the leaves that are taken up by the females.

Economic importance and symptoms of damage: Infestations on tomato usually begin in the lower parts of host plants, on the stems and leaves, which lose their color, wilt and drop. Attacked tomatoes become bronzed and rough, and severe infestations cause plant withering and death. Yield is much reduced. Tomato is the most heavily affected host plant, but petunia, pepper and potato may also be damaged. Infested eggplants usually show less damage.

Management; A binomial sampling plan for this pest is available.

Host resistance: Tomato varieties whose leaves bear more trichomes are less susceptible to the mite. Various mineral fertilization regimes or plant height have no effect on the pest’s level of attack.

Biological control: Several acarine predators in the families Phytoseiidae, Stigmaeidae and Tydeidae feed on the pest in the laboratory, but little is known about their effect in the field.

Chemical control: Acaricides effective against the pest include abamectin, dicofol, cyhexatin and compounds of Bacillus thuringiensis.


Anderson, L.A. 1954. The tomato russet mite in the United States. Journal of Economic Entomology 47: 1001-1005.

Harpaz, I. 1955. Notes on the eriophyid mites of Israel. Bulletin of the Research Council of Israel 5B: 61-69.

Hessein, N. A. and Perring, T.M. 1986. Feeding habits of the Tydeidae with evidence of Homeopronematus anconai (Acari: Tydeidae) predation on Aculops lycopersici (Acari: Eriophyidae). International Journal of Acarology 12: 215-221.

Leite, G.L.D., PicanÇo, M., Guedes, R.N.C. and Zanuncio, J.C. 1999. Influence of canopy height and fertilization levels on the resistance of Lycopersicon hirsutum to Aculops lycopersici (Acari: Eriophyidae). Experimental and Applied Acarology 23: 633-642.

Rob Moerkens, R. (and 6 co-authors). 2018. Binomial sampling plan for tomato russet mite (Aculopslycopersic (Tryon) (Acari: Eriophyidae) in protected tomato crops. Journal of Applied Entomology 142 820-827.

Osman, A.A. and Zaki, A.M. 1986. Studies on the predation efficiency of Agistemus exsertus Gonzalez (Acarina, Stigmaeidae) on the eriophyid mite Aculops lycopersici (Massee). Anzeiger Schadlingskunde Pflazenschutz, Umweltschutz 59: 135-136.

Rice, R.E. and Strong, F.E. 1962. Bionomics of the tomato russet mite, Vasates lycopersici (Massee). Journal of Economic Entomology 55: 431-435.

Royalty, R.N. and Perring, T.M. 1987. Comparative toxicity of acaricides to Aculops lycopersici and Homeopronematus anconai (Acari: Eriophyidae: Tydeidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 80: 348-351.