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Tetranychus cinnabarinus (Boisduval)

Carmine Spider Mite
Hosts Distribution Damage Biology Behavior Management Reference


Ronald F.L. Mau, Extension Entomologist

Jayma L. Martin Kessing, Educational Specialist

Department of Entomology

Honolulu, Hawaii

Updated by: J.M. Diez April 2007


This mite attacks nearly 100 cultivated crops and weeds. It is a serious pest on beans, eggplant, pepper, tomatoes, cucurbits, and many other vegetables. It also is a pest of papaya, passion fruit, and many other fruits. The carmine spider mite also attacks many flowers and ornamental plants such as carnation, chrysanthemum, cymbidium, gladiolus, marigold, pikake, and rose. Refer to Goff (1986) for an extensive list of hosts in Hawaii.


This mite has a worldwide distribution and is present on all major Hawaiian Islands.


The carmine spider mite has the largest host range of all Tetranychidae species in Hawaii and is undoubtedly of greatest economic importance (Goff, 1986). Adults and nymphs feed primarily on the undersides of the leaves. The upper surface of the leaves becomes stippled with little dots that are the feeding punctures. The mites tend to feed in "pockets" often near the midrib and veins. Silk webbing produced by these mites is usually visible. The leaves eventually become bleached and discolored and may fall off.


The carmine spider mite normally completes a life cycle from egg to adult in about a week. All stages of this mite are present throughput the year. Reproduction is most favorable when the weather is hot and dry.


Eggs are spherical, shiny, straw colored, and hatch in 3 days. They are only about 1/254 inch in diameter. They are laid singly on the underside of the leaf surface or attached to the silken webs spun by the adults.


Larvae are slightly larger than the egg, pinkish, and have three pairs of legs. This stage lasts a short time, perhaps a day.


There are two nymphal stages, the protonymph and deutonymph. The nymphal stage differs from the larval stage by being slightly larger, reddish or greenish, and having 4 pairs of legs. This nymphal stage lasts about 4 days.


Adult females are about 1/50 inch long, reddish, and more or less elliptical. The males are slightly smaller and wedge shaped. They have a black spot on either side of their relatively colorless bodies.

The adult female may live for up to 24 days and lay 200 eggs.



The major natural predator of the carmine spider mite is a Stethorus beetle. This beetle feeds on all stages of these mites and in laboratory conditions each individual beetle consumed an average of 2,400 mites. The feeding activity of the predatory beetle is greatest in crops with smooth leaves on their undersides. There are a number of other ladybird beetles which feed on mites, but they are not as effective as Stethorus. A number of predacious mites, such as Phytoseiulus macropilis, are also effective on many crops in controlling carmine spider mites. There are also several species of predatory thrips that feed on mites.


In papaya orchards where Stethorus works effectively, it may be possible to maintain Stethorus populations and use sulfur to control red and black flat mites and broad mites, the only other serious pests of papaya in the field. Sulfur does not destroy Stethorus.


Goff, L. Spider Mites (Acari: Tetranychidae) in the Hawaiian Islands. International Journal of Acarology. 12(1): 43-49.

Hill, D.S. 1983. Tetranychus cinnabarinus (Boisd.). pp. 501-502. In Agricultural Insect Pests of the Tropics and Their Control, 2nd Edition. Cambridge University Press. 746 pages.

LaPlante, A.A. and M. Sherman. 1976. Carmine Spider Mite. Cooperative Extension Service, College of tropical Agriculture, Insect Pest Series No. 3. 2 pages.






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