December 10, 2007
SUBJECT: Detections of Red Palm Mite (Raoiella indica) in Palm Beach County, Florida
TO: STATE AND TERRITORY AGRICULTURAL REGULATORY OFFICIALS
On December 7, 2007, APHIS confirmed detections of the red palm mite (RPM), Raoiella
indica, in Palm Beach County, Florida. This is the first confirmed find of this pest in the
continental United States. In November 2006, APHIS confirmed the presence of RPM in areas
of Puerto Rico. RPM is a pest of international quarantine significance and a direct threat to the
ornamental palm and coconut industries in Florida, Alabama, Arizona, California, Hawaii,
Puerto Rico, and Texas.
Since its first detection in Puerto Rico, APHIS’ Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) program
has informed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection
(CBP) to heighten inspection vigilance of agricultural host plants during pre-departure passenger
and cargo clearance of flights destined for the mainland United States. In addition, PPQ
coordinated the formation of a technical working group (TWG) of subject matter experts to
identify methods and strategies for RPM survey, detection, identification, and management; this
TWG continues to assess new development and detections.
This outbreak of RPM in Florida is considered to be under surveillance. APHIS and the Florida
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) are conducting ongoing delimiting
surveys in the area of the detection site. Delimiting surveys are ongoing and, to date, no
detections have occurred at nurseries that ship interstate.
RPM originates from Asia and Africa. It was first detected in the Western Hemisphere on the
Caribbean Island of Martinique in 2003, and has since spread to other islands including
Dominica, Trinidad, and Guadeloupe. Wind currents and transport of infested plants and leaves
are the mode of dispersion for this mite.
For additional details on the Federal