Most of the mites in the family Eriophyidae are important plant pests. However, because many of them are host specific, they are strong candidates for use as biological control agents of weeds. Recently, an eriophyid rust mite was discovered in Maryland feeding on Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop.), a noxious weed that grows in many areas of the United Sates. The mite was later found to be present throughout Maryland, its bordering states, and in two mid-northern states (Minnesota and North Dakota) (Ochoa et al. 2001). Based on examination of specimens with light and low-temperature scanning electron microscopy techniques, the mite was identified as the rust mite, Aceria anthocoptes (Nalepa). Previously, the mite was known only to exist in Europe. Preliminary investigations idicate that A. anthocoptes is specific to Canada thistle. The use of the mite to transmit diseases to Canada thistle and research on the morphology and ecology of the mite are being investigated. The results of this work will benefit biological control specialists, conservationists, and plant quarantine personnel.
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The Systematic Entomology Laboratory, Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory, and the Electron Microscopy Unit in collaboration with the University of Maryland, University of West Virginia and the Maryland State Department of Agriculture are collecting and studying several Eriophyid mites on weeds. They expect that some morphological data in association with ecological behavior will help to understand the biology of these beneficial mites. If this is the case, this research will facilitate the scientific community's ability to use them as biological control agents of important weed pests.
Aceria anthocoptes (Nal.) females; winter form (deutogyne)
center with three summer forms (protogyne) surrounding
Ochoa, W.P. Wergin, E.F. Erbe, C. Frye, and J. Lydon. 2001. The
presence of Aceria anthocoptes (Nal.) (ACARI: Eriophyidae) on Cirsium species in the United States. International Journal of Acarology. 27(3): 179-187.