The invasive spider mite Tetranychus evansi (Acari: Tetranychidae) alters community composition and host-plant use of native relatives

Autores UPV
Revista Experimental and Applied Acarology


The tomato spider mite Tetranychus evansi Baker and Pritchard (Acari: Tetranychidae), is a worldwide pest of solanaceous crops that has recently invaded many parts of the world. In the present study we examined the ecological impact of its arrival in the Mediterranean region. The spider mite and phytoseiid mite assemblages in various crop and non-crop plants in three areas of Valencia (Spain) were studied a few months before and 10 years after the invasion of T. evansi. According to rarefaction analyses, the invasion of T. evansi did not affect neither the total number of species in the mite community examined (spider mite and phytoseiid species) nor the number of species when the two communities were examined separately. However, after the invasion, the absolute and relative abundance of the native Tetranychus species was significantly reduced. Before the invasion, T. urticae and T. turkestani were the most abundant spider mites, accounting for 62.9 and 22.8 % of the specimens. After the invasion, T. evansi became the most abundant species, representing 60 % of the total spider mites recorded, whereas the abundance of T. urticae was significantly reduced (23 %). This reduction took place principally on noncrop plants, where native species were replaced by the invader. Null model analyses provided evidence for competition structuring the spider mite community on non-crop plants after the invasion of T. evansi. Resistance to acaricides, the absence of efficient native natural enemies, manipulation of the plant defenses and the web type produced by T. evansi are discussed as possible causes for the competitive displacement.