False spider mite

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Scientific name: Brevipalpus californicus Banks

Other name: Red flat mite










Economic importance


The false spider mite is an important acarine pest of sweetpotato. It attacks many species other than sweetpotato. High infestation occurs during the dry season.


Geographical distribution






The mites suck the sap from the petiole and leaves causing the leaves to become deformed, with a rough, thickened and shrivelled appearance.  The back of the leaf may appear scorched (turn yellowish brown) and dotted with inconspicuous whitish feeding punctures. During heavy infestation stunting occurs.




The egg is smooth, plain and elliptical. Newly laid eggs are shiny bright orange.


The newly-hatched larva is bright red-orange and ovoid. It can be identified through its three pairs of short stout legs, the first two pairs positioned anteriorly.


The protonymph has four pairs of legs and the body is ovoid. It is three times bigger than the larva and its appendages are more slender, tapering and colourless. A prominent dark reddish area appears on the dorsum while the rest of the body becomes almost colourless as it grows.


The deutonymph is similar to the protonymph but bigger and more slender.


The adult is similar to the deutonymph but bigger and the dorsal spots are brighter. The legs and chelicerae are distinct.


Biology and ecology

The preoviposition period lasts one to two days. The adult female can lay an average of 43 eggs in 20 days. Mated females lay eggs for both sexes whereas the unmated ones produce only male eggs. Incubation period is 3 days. Egg hatchability is 97%. The mite undergoes three moults which lasts 2-5 days between each moult. The total developmental period (egg to adult) is about two weeks. The male to female ratio of the progenies of the mated females is 1.0:2.82. Adult males have shorter life span (18 days) than females (21 days).

Host Range

This species feeds on a wide variety of plants including many crops and ornamentals. Pritchard and Baker (1958) listed 43 host species known from all over the world. Important crops and weeds apart from sweetpotato as alternate hosts include the following: Ipomoea spp. such as I. purpurea, I. triloba, I. aquatica, I. pes-caprae, Moringa oleifera, Solanum melonena, Glycine max, Cucurbita maxima, Lycopersicon esculentum, Manihot esculenta, Vigna sesquipedalis, Hibiscus esculenta, Ceiba pentandra, Carica papaya, Averrhoa carambola, citrus mitis, Citrus nobilis, Cocos nucifera, Commelina diffusa, Leucaena leucocephala, Ricinus communis, Stachytapheta jamaicensis, Passiflora edulis, Terminalia citrina, Costus speciosus, Acalypha spp, Capsicum frutescence, Desmodium gangeticum, Gmelina arborreaIxora longistipula, Manihot multiglandusa, Wedelia biflora and many more.


Biological control

Several species of coccinellid beetles, and phytoseiid mites [Amblysieus linearis Corpus and Amblysieus longispinosus (Evans)] prey on all stages of development.

Chemical control

Several insecticides and acaricides are available for mite control.


Amalin, D.M. and E. A. Vasquez. 1993. A handbook on Philippine sweetpotato pests and their natural enemies. International Potato Center (CIP), Los Baņos, Philippines. 82 p.

Gapud, V.P. and L.C. Raros. 1986. Guide to Philippine Flora and Fauna - Water Bugs and Mites. Vol. VII. Natural Resources Management Center , Ministry of Natural Resources and University of the Philippines. 204 p.

Jularbal, C.L. 1981. Biology of sweetpotato false spider mite, Brevipalpus californicus Banks (Tenuipalpidae, Acarina). Unpublished BSA Thesis, Visayas State College of Agriculture, Baybay, Leyte, Philippines.

Prtichard, A.E. and E.W. Baker, 1958. The false spider mite (Acarina:Tenuipalpidae). Univ. Calif. Publ. Eent. 14(3): 175-274.

Vasquez, E.A. and C.E. Sajise. 1990. Pests of sweetpotato: Insects, mites and diseases. Philippine Root Crop Information Service,  Philippine Root Crop Research & Training Center. 65 p.


Contributed by: Erlinda Vasquez and Vilma Amante


Economic importance

Geographical distribution



Biology and Ecology

Host Range



Leaves dry up when attacked by false spider mite  (E. A. Vasquez).

Adult false spider mite (D. Amalin).