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Coprosma white erineum mite - Phyllocoptes coprosma

By N A Martin (2010, revised 2016)

Classification

Phylum:
Arthropoda
Class:
Arachnida
Subclass:
Acari
Order:
Trombidiformes
Suborder:
Prostigmata
Superfamily:
Eriophyoidea
Family:
Eriophyidae
Scientific Name:
Phyllocoptes coprosma Lamb, 1952
  • Drawing of side view of Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). The adult mite is very tiny, 0.13-0.18 mm long. Image: D. Manson  © drawing published in Fauna of New Zealand Number, 1984, volume 4, fig 337
    Drawing of side view of Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). The adult mite is very tiny, 0.13-0.18 mm long. Image: D. Manson © drawing published in Fauna of New Zealand Number, 1984, volume 4, fig 337
  • White leaf erineum induced by Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae) on the underside of a leaf of Coprosma robusta. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    White leaf erineum induced by Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae) on the underside of a leaf of Coprosma robusta. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
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Common Names

Coprosma white erineum mite
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Biostatus and Distribution

This endemic gall mite has been found in the North and South Islands of New Zealand. It occurs on host plants, Coprosma species, in city gardens and parks as well as native ecosystems. The mite induces white hairs, erineum, on the underside of leaves.

Conservation status: Widespread, not threatened.

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Life Stages and Annual Cycle

This gall mite is very tiny. Adult mites are 0.13-0.18 mm long. The adult mite is like a tiny white cow’s horn with two pairs of legs at the wide end of the horn. The female mite lays a tiny spherical egg. The larva that hatches from an egg looks like a tiny adult. The mite larva moults (changes skin) into a nymph. There is one nymphal stage that also looks like a small adult. The last juvenile stage moults into an adult mite. There are males and females.

Walking
The mite uses its legs for walking, but can also hold on to the plant with the tip of its abdomen, which appears to act as a kind of sucker.

Feeding and forming the erineum gall
The mites have pointed mouth parts that puncture the surface cells of plant leaves. They suck up the cell contents. During feeding, the mites may inject saliva into the plant. When this happens on young expanding leaves, chemicals in the saliva induce the plant to grow hairs on the leaf surface. These growths form the gall called an ‘erineum’. The mites shelter amongst the hairs and feed and breed there. The erineum protects the gall mites from predators. The gall may also maintain a high humid atmosphere around the mites.

Dispersal to new leaves and plants
When the plant grows new shoots, adult female mites disperse to the new leaves and their feeding causes a new erineum to form. It is presumed some mites walk from the old leaves to the new growths. When this gall mite colonises new plants, it is unlikely that mites walk all the way. It is possible that mites could be transferred on leaves, but it is believed that most mites are dispersed by wind. Some species of mite climb to prominent places on plants and stand waiting for a gust of wind to take them away.

  • Close-up image of white erineum on a Coprosma robusta leaf; erineum induced by Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    Close-up image of white erineum on a Coprosma robusta leaf; erineum induced by Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
  • Close-up image of white erineum on a Coprosma robusta leaf; erineum induced by Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    Close-up image of white erineum on a Coprosma robusta leaf; erineum induced by Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
  • Sections through a Coprosma robusta leaf showing the hairs of the erineum induced by Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    Sections through a Coprosma robusta leaf showing the hairs of the erineum induced by Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
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Recognition

This mite requires special procedures and taxonomic knowledge to identify specimens. However, its presence on a plant can be recognised from associated plant damage symptoms. This mite species is the only one known to induce a white erineum in Coprosma leaves. White erineum in other plants is caused by other mite. A black erineum and a brown erineum have been found on other Coprosma species; they are believed to be caused by different mite species.

  • Chlorotic (yellow) areas on the upper side and white erineum on the underside of  leaves of Coprosma grandifolia; erineum and chlorotic areas induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Chlorotic (yellow) areas on the upper side and white erineum on the underside of leaves of Coprosma grandifolia; erineum and chlorotic areas induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Black erineum on the upper surface of leaves of Coprosma areolata (or C. tenuicaulis). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Black erineum on the upper surface of leaves of Coprosma areolata (or C. tenuicaulis). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
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Natural Enemies

No natural enemies of this mite have previously been recorded, but a fly larva (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) was observed feeding on eggs of another erineum mite. Similar fly larvae were seen on young leaves with erineum. Predatory mites from several different taxonomic groups may be seen on plant leaves with erineum, and may feed on these mites. Eggs of the Steelblue ladybird, Halmus chalybeus, were found on a leaf with erineum. This ladybird is known to feed on eriophyid mites.

Table: Predators of Coprosma white erineum mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Prostigmata: Eriophyidae), from Plant-SyNZ databa se (20 December 2016). The reliability index shows the quality of evidence for the host association (0-10, 10=high quality).
Scientific NameCommon NameClassificationEnemy TypeReliability
Index
Biostatus
Bdellidae sp.Bdellid mite (Mite)Acari: Prostigmata: Bdellidaepredator5unknown
Cecidomyiidae sp. 'predators' (Fly)Diptera: Cecidomyiidaepredator5unknown
Halmus chalybeus (Boisduval, 1835)Steelblue ladybird (Beetle)Coleoptera: Coccinellidaepredator7adventive
  • Underside of Coprosma robusta leaf with white erineum caused by the coprosma white erineum gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae), the arrow points to a tiny adult mite, the red mite nearby may be a predator. Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    Underside of Coprosma robusta leaf with white erineum caused by the coprosma white erineum gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae), the arrow points to a tiny adult mite, the red mite nearby may be a predator. Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
  • Red mite belonging to the familly, Bdellidae, on the underside of Coprosma robusta leaf with white erineum caused by the coprosma white erineum gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae. The bdellid mite is probably a predator of the erineum mite. Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    Red mite belonging to the familly, Bdellidae, on the underside of Coprosma robusta leaf with white erineum caused by the coprosma white erineum gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae. The bdellid mite is probably a predator of the erineum mite. Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
  • Two white predatory gall fly larvae (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) on underside of Coprosma robusta leaf with white erineum induced by the coprosma white erineum gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    Two white predatory gall fly larvae (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) on underside of Coprosma robusta leaf with white erineum induced by the coprosma white erineum gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
  • A red predatory gall fly larva (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) on the underside of Coprosma robusta leaf where there was white erineum induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    A red predatory gall fly larva (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) on the underside of Coprosma robusta leaf where there was white erineum induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
  • Eggs of steelblue ladybird, Halmus chalybeus (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) amongst erineum induced by the coprosma white erineum gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Eggs of steelblue ladybird, Halmus chalybeus (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) amongst erineum induced by the coprosma white erineum gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Just hatched larvae of steelblue ladybird, Halmus chalybeus (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) on leaf with erineum induced by the coprosma white erineum gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Just hatched larvae of steelblue ladybird, Halmus chalybeus (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) on leaf with erineum induced by the coprosma white erineum gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
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Host Plants

White leaf erineum is found on many species of Coprosma, especially the larger leaved species. It usually occurs on the underside of leaves, though in some Coprosma species it may extend to the upper surface. In some plants, the upper side of the leaf may be chlorotic (yellow) above the site of the erineum. On larger leaved plants, the erineum is in discrete patches, but may extend over the whole leaf.

Table: Host plants of the Coprosma white erineum mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Prostigmata: Eriophyidae) from Plant-SyNZ database (3 October 2014). The reliability score shows the quality of evidence for the host association (1-10, 10=high).
Common Name(s)Scientific NameFamilyReliability IndexBiostatus
Tree coprosma, Mamangi, MamangiCoprosma arborea KirkRubiaceae9endemic
 Coprosma dumosa (Cheeseman) G.T.JaneRubiaceae9endemic
Stinkwood, Hupirau-ririki, Hupiro, Karamu, Mikimiki, Mingimingi, Naupiro, Pipiro, PiroCoprosma foetidissima J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.Rubiaceae9endemic
Kakawariki, Kanono, Kapukiore, Karamu-kueo, Kueo (fruit), Manono, Papauma, Raurekau, ToheraoaCoprosma grandifolia Hook.f.Rubiaceae9endemic
Shining karamu, Kakaramu, Kakarangu, Karamu, Karamuramu, Karangu, PatutiketikeCoprosma lucida J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.Rubiaceae9endemic
Large seeded coprosma, Kakaramu, Kakarangu, Karamu, Karamuramu, KaranguCoprosma macrocarpa CheesemanRubiaceae9endemic
Twiggy CoprosmaCoprosma rhamnoides A.Cunn.Rubiaceae9endemic
Glossy karamu, Kakaramu, Kakarangu, Karamu, Karamuramu, KaranguCoprosma robusta RaoulRubiaceae10endemic
Round-leaved coprosmaCoprosma rotundifolia A.Cunn.Rubiaceae9endemic
 Coprosma rubra PetrieRubiaceae9endemic
Wavy-leaved coprosmaCoprosma tenuifolia CheesemanRubiaceae9endemic
 Coprosma virescens PetrieRubiaceae9endemic
  • Chlorotic (yellow) areas on the upper side and white erineum on the underside of  leaves of Coprosma grandifolia; erineum and chlorotic areas induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Chlorotic (yellow) areas on the upper side and white erineum on the underside of leaves of Coprosma grandifolia; erineum and chlorotic areas induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Erineum on the upper surface of Coprosma lucida leaf induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Erineum on the upper surface of Coprosma lucida leaf induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
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Additional Information

Eriophyid gall mites belong to the superfamily Eryiophyoidea. These mites have several unusual features. For example, though most mites have four pairs of legs like spiders, Eriophyoidea mites have only two pairs of legs. Many of these mites can cause host plants to form galls, some of which may be very complex. Some species of these mites can transmit plant viruses that may cause plant diseases and plant death.

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Bug Signs

Metal outdoor signs are available for placement in reserves, Regional and National parks, urban parks and school grounds. They can be bought from Metal Images Ltd, www.metalimage.co.nz/bushbirdandbug.html. They come in two sizes, 100 x 200 mm, 194 x 294 mm. The signs can be bought ready mounted on a stand that need to be ‘planted’ in the ground, or they can be bought unmounted with holes for fixing into your own mounts.

The signs for the Coprosma white erineum mite are best placed by a bush with erineum galls. Look for a bush with yellow patches on the upper side of leaves, then check if there are patches of erineum on the underside. New erineum should be formed on young leaves every year.

  • Large Bug Sign (5002) for Phyllocoptes coprosma, Coprosma white erineum mite, 194 x 294 mm. Image: Metal Images Ltd © Metal Images Ltd & Entomological Society of New Zealand
    Large Bug Sign (5002) for Phyllocoptes coprosma, Coprosma white erineum mite, 194 x 294 mm. Image: Metal Images Ltd © Metal Images Ltd & Entomological Society of New Zealand
  • Small Bug Sign (5002) for Phyllocoptes coprosma, Coprosma white erineum mite, 100 x 200 mm. Image: Metal Images Ltd © Metal Images Ltd & Entomological Society of New Zealand
    Small Bug Sign (5002) for Phyllocoptes coprosma, Coprosma white erineum mite, 100 x 200 mm. Image: Metal Images Ltd © Metal Images Ltd & Entomological Society of New Zealand
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Information Sources

Manson DCM 1984. Eriophyoidea except Eriophyinae (Arachnida: Acari). Fauna of New Zealand 4: 1-142..

Plant-SyNZ: Invertebrate herbivore-host plant association database. plant-synz.landcareresearch.co.nz/.

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Acknowledgements

Eric Scott for helpful suggestions.

The New Zealand Plant & Food Research Institute Limited (Plant & Food Research) for permission to use photographs.

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Other Images

  • White erineum on a leaf of Coprosma arborea induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    White erineum on a leaf of Coprosma arborea induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • White erineum on a leaf of Coprosma rhamnoides induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    White erineum on a leaf of Coprosma rhamnoides induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • White erineum on a leaf of Coprosma macrocarpa induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    White erineum on a leaf of Coprosma macrocarpa induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • White erineum on a leaf of Coprosma tenuifolia induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosma (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    White erineum on a leaf of Coprosma tenuifolia induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosma (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • White erineum on a leaf of Coprosma tenuifolia induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    White erineum on a leaf of Coprosma tenuifolia induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • White erineum on the upperside of a leaf of Coprosma sp. induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae).  Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    White erineum on the upperside of a leaf of Coprosma sp. induced by the gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Red mite belonging to the familly, Bdellidae, on the underside of Coprosma robusta leaf with white erineum caused by the coprosma white erineum gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae. The bdellid mite is probably a predator of the erineum mite. Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    Red mite belonging to the familly, Bdellidae, on the underside of Coprosma robusta leaf with white erineum caused by the coprosma white erineum gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae. The bdellid mite is probably a predator of the erineum mite. Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
  • Red mite belonging to the familly, Bdellidae, on the underside of Coprosma robusta leaf with white erineum caused by the coprosma white erineum gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae. The bdellid mite is probably a predator of the erineum mite. Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    Red mite belonging to the familly, Bdellidae, on the underside of Coprosma robusta leaf with white erineum caused by the coprosma white erineum gall mite, Phyllocoptes coprosmae (Acari: Eriophyidae. The bdellid mite is probably a predator of the erineum mite. Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
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Update History

21 December 2016. NA Martin. Updated natural enemy table.

5 April 2016. NA Martin. Life Stages: juvenile stages revised. Recognition: added photos of white erineum and chlorotic areas on leaves, and photos of Steelblue ladybird eggs and larvae. Host plants: figure caption for C. grandifolia amended

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Suggested Citation

Martin NA. 2010, revised 2016. Coprosma white erineum mite - Phyllocoptes coprosma. Interesting Insects and other Invertebrates. New Zealand Arthropod Factsheet Series Number 3. http://nzacfactsheets.landcareresearch.co.nz/Index.html. Date Accessed. ISSN 1179-643X.

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