kleptoparasite; feeds on pollen in bee nests

Name and classification

Pneumolaelaps Berlese, 1920

Superorder Parasitiformes » Order Mesostigmata » Suborder Monogynaspida » Hyporder Dermanyssiae » Family Laelapidae » Genus Pneumolaelaps

Type species
Iphis bombicolens G. R. Canestrini, 1884


Female: Stigmata enlarged: width of stigmatic field subequal to base of tritosternum (Fig. 3); peritrematic shields extend beyond stigmata (Fig. 3); peritremes typical, extending anteriorly beyond legs II (Fig. 3). Ventral opisthosoma hypertrichous (Fig. 2). Sternal setae st3 situated on sternal shield (Figs. 2, 4) and distinctly extending beyond bases of setae st4 (Figs. 2, 4).

Similar genera

Xylocolaelaps. In Pneumolaelaps peritrematic shields extending beyond stigmata, but not extending in Xylocolaelaps (Fig. 3). In many Pneumolaelaps sternal setae st3 distinctly extending beyond bases of setae st4 (Fig. 4). In Xylocolaelaps these setae either not extending or slightly extending beyond bases of setae st4.


Holarctic, Oriental, Neotropical regions. Introduced with bumble bees to Australasian region (New Zealand).

Bee hosts

bumble bees (Bombus)

Host association level


associated exclusively with bees or their close relative, wasps; cannot live without these hosts


some life stages are associated with bees, while others are not

Facultative or opportunistic

can complete entire life cycle without bees or their close relative, wasps


Host associations, feeding, and dispersal

  • All stages live in nests of bumble bees, feeding on pollen.
  • Females disperse and overwinter on adult queen bees.


This genus is a pollen-feeding kleptoparasite in nests of bumble bees. Mites may be found in great numbers in active bumble bee colonies, moving rapidly over the nest floor, nectar pots, and brood cells where they feed on nectar and pollen. Female mites become phoretic on bumble bee queens in old nests, and overwinter with the queens in sheltered sites.

Feeding behavior of Pneumolaelaps longanalis is described in Royce and Krantz, 1989: Considerable numbers of wandering P. longanalis congregate in on the brood cells and larvae feed on pollen grains provided by the adult bumble bees. The mites strip the nectar coating applied by the foraging bee from the pollen grains, probably taking the pollenkitt with it. After feeding, the mite discards the stripped grain and quickly chooses another. Females have been found to process pollen grains twice as rapidly as males or deutonymphs. The mites may rupture the pollen grains in the feeding process and access nutrients this way as well.

Mites may also occasionally occur in beehives and in subterranean nests of small mammals.