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Totara bud mite - Eriophyes totarae

By N A Martin (2017)

Classification

Phylum:
Arthropoda
Class:
Arachnida
Subclass:
Acari
Order:
Trombidiformes
Suborder:
Prostigmata
Superfamily:
Eriophyoidea
Family:
Eriophyidae
Subfamily:
Eriophyinae
Tribe:
Eriophyini
Scientific Name:
Eriophyes totarae Manson, 1984
  • Drawing of side view of the Totara bud mite, Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae). The adult mite is very tiny, 0.138-0.166 mm long. Image: Dave Manson © drawing published in Fauna of New Zealand Number, 1984, volume 5, fig 460.
    Drawing of side view of the Totara bud mite, Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae). The adult mite is very tiny, 0.138-0.166 mm long. Image: Dave Manson © drawing published in Fauna of New Zealand Number, 1984, volume 5, fig 460.
  • Bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae).  Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
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Common Names

Totara bud mite
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Biostatus and Distribution

This endemic gall mite is uncommon, but has been found in the North and South Islands of New Zealand. It occurs on its host plant, Totara, Podocarpus totara (Podocarpaceae), in city gardens and presumably in native ecosystems. Feeding by the mites induces a bud gall.

Conservation status: Widespread, not threatened.

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Life Stages and Annual Cycle

Life stages of Haloragis gall mite, Aceria victoriae (Acari: Eriophyidae).  Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Diagram modified from drawings published in Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand. 85 (3), page 462, Text-Fig. 2.
Life stages of Haloragis gall mite, Aceria victoriae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Diagram modified from drawings published in Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand. 85 (3), page 462, Text-Fig. 2.

This gall mite is very tiny. Adult mites are 0.138-0.166 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. Adult female mites lay tiny spherical eggs. 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 look a tiny small adult. The last juvenile stage moults into an adult mite. There are males and females.

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

Feeding and forming the gall
The mites have pointed mouth parts that puncture the surface cells of bud scales, tiny leaves within buds and male flower cones. They suck up the cell sap. During feeding, the mites may inject saliva into the plant. The bud scales enlarge and spaces develop between the scales in which the mites live. The mites shelter in the gall and feed and breed there. The gall protects the gall mites from predators and adverse weather.

Dispersal to new stems and new plants
When the plant grows new shoots with buds, adult female mites disperse to these and their feeding induces the formation of new galls. It is presumed some mites walk from the old galls to the new growths.

When this gall mite colonises new plants, it is unlikely that mites walk all the way. 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.

  • Bud galls on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae).  Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Bud galls on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Section through a young bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae) and with mites living between the bud scales and young leaves.  Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    Section through a young bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae) and with mites living between the bud scales and young leaves. Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
  • Section through an old bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae).  Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    Section through an old bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
  • Section through a bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae), white arrow points to spherical eggs and black arrow points to mites.  Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    Section through a bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae), white arrow points to spherical eggs and black arrow points to mites. 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 bud galls and live in male cones of totara, Podocarpus totara. A gall fly (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) also induces bud galls on Podocarpus species. It can be distinguished by the presence of fly larvae in the gall and by the bud scales remaining closed on the enlarged bud.

  • Bud galls on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae).  Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Bud galls on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Bud galls on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae).  Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Bud galls on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Section through a young bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae) and with mites living between the bud scales and young leaves.  Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    Section through a young bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae) and with mites living between the bud scales and young leaves. Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
  • Bud gall on Podocarpus laetus induced by fly larvae (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) that live between the bud scales.  Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Bud gall on Podocarpus laetus induced by fly larvae (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) that live between the bud scales. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Old bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by fly larvae (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) that live between the bud scales.  Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Old bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by fly larvae (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) that live between the bud scales. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Lateral and terminal bud galls on Podocarpus totara induced by fly larvae (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) that live between the bud scales.  Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Lateral and terminal bud galls on Podocarpus totara induced by fly larvae (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) that live between the bud scales. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
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Natural Enemies

No natural enemies of this mite have been reported.

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Host Plants

Totara bud mite has only been found on totara, Podocarpus totara G. Benn. ex D. Don (Podocarpaceae), though it may live on other Podocarpus species. The mite induces galls in vegetative buds and buds of male flower cones. The mite can also live in open cones. Mite feeding in a bud induces the bud scales enlarge and spaces develop between the scales in which the mites live.

  • Bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae).  Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Section through a young bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae) and with mites living between the bud scales and young leaves.  Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    Section through a young bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae) and with mites living between the bud scales and young leaves. Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
  • Section through an old bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae).  Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    Section through an old bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
  • Section through an old bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae).  Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    Section through an old bud gall on Podocarpus totara induced by the gall mite Eriophyes totarae (Acari: Eriophyidae). Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
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Additional Information

Eriophyid gall mites belong to the super family 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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Information Sources

Manson DCM 1984. Eriophyinae (Arachnida: Acari: Eriophyoidea). Fauna of New Zealand 5: 1-123.

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Acknowledgements

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

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Suggested Citation

Martin NA. 2017. Totara bud mite - Eriophyes totarae. Interesting Insects and other Invertebrates. New Zealand Arthropod Factsheet Series Number 82. http://nzacfactsheets.landcareresearch.co.nz/Index.html. Date Accessed. ISSN 1179-643X.

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