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Behavioural responses of Varroa destructor (Acari: varroidae) to extracts of larvae, cocoons and brood food of worker and drone honey bees, Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera: Apidae)



Behavioural responses of Varroa destructor (Acari: varroidae) to extracts of larvae, cocoons and brood food of worker and drone honey bees, Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera: Apidae)



Physiological entomology 26(4): 341-350



Varroa destructor is a parasitic mite of the honey bee species Apis cerana Fabr. and A. mellifera L. Mature females reproduce on the immature stages of their hosts, producing more viable female offspring on drone hosts than on worker hosts. Thus, immature drones are more likely to be infested with mites than immature workers. To investigate the hypothesis that differences in host chemistries underlie the biased distribution of mites between worker and drone brood, the arrestment responses of mites to solvent extracts of a number of stimuli normally encountered by a mite during its life cycle were measured. Mites were arrested by cuticular extracts of worker and drone larvae obtained at 0, 24 and 48 h prior to the time when cell capping is completed. Mites were also arrested by extracts of worker and drone, brood food and cocoons, and by a blend of synthetic fatty acid esters previously shown to be active in the host acquisition process. In a wind tunnel bioassay, mites were attracted to odours from living fifth-instar worker and drone larvae, but not to volatiles from cocoons, brood food or a blend of fatty acid esters. The sex of the host was not an important factor affecting the behavioural responses of the mites in any assay. We conclude that host kairomones play a role in the host acquisition process, but we found no evidence to support the hypothesis that mites use these substances to differentiate between worker and drone brood.

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Accession: 013085384

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DOI: 10.1046/j.0307-6962.2001.00254.x


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