Neocypholaelaps

 

HARMFUL | NOT HARMFUL | UNCERTAIN

generalist species kleptoparasitic; feed on provisioned pollen in honey bee nests and presumably impair bees' flight when on bees in large numbers; species associated with stingless bees (Meliponini) neutral to beneficial; feed on detritus and pollen in nests

Name and classification

Neocypholaelaps Vitzthum, 1942

Taxonomy
Superorder Parasitiformes » Order Mesostigmata » Suborder Monogynaspida » Hyporder Dermanyssiae » Family Ameroseiidae » Genus Neocypholaelaps

Type species
Laelaps ampullula Berlese, 1910

Diagnosis

Female: Dorsal shield not rugose, dorsal setae widened, and dorsal setae j1 widened and pectinate (Fig. 1). Corniculi undivided (Fig. 2). Cheliceral digits edentate or with a single subapical tooth (Fig. 8). All legs with ambulacrum and a pair of claws (Figs. 1, 2, 9, 10). Claws may be well developed (Fig. 10) or weakly developed (Fig. 9).

Distribution

Neocypholaelaps is distributed in the New and Old Worlds, but mites associated with bees or their nests have been found only in the Old World. This genus commonly occurs in the tropics and subtropics. Neocypholaelaps favus and N. apicola have been found in beehives in temperate regions (Europe and Japan) Haragsim et al., 1987; Fain and Hosseinian, 2000).

Bee hosts

honey bees (Apis), carpenter bees (Xylocopa), and other genera of apid bees (Amegilla, Thyreus, and Ctenoplectra) and stingless bees (Heterotrigona, Geniotrigona, Tetragonula, and Meliponula)

Host association level

Permanent

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

Temporary

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

Most species are facultative, while species from stingless bee nests are permanent.

Host associations, feeding, and dispersal

most species

  • All stages normally live on flowers of various plants, where they feed on pollen and nectar. Also found in bee nests, where they can probably reproduce.
  • Dispersal occurs on adult bees and other flower-visiting insects. Females (rarely males and immatures) are the phoretic stages.

species from nests of stingless bees (Neocypholaelaps phooni and N. malayensis)

  • All stages live in bee nests and feed on pollen and detritus.
  • Dispersal not documented, but female is probably phoretic on adult bees.

Biology

Pollen and nectar feeders occur on flowers of various plants and use bees and other insects (orders Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera, and Diptera) for dispersal. During a worker honey bee foraging trip, these mites can “hitch-hike” on the bee to be brought back to the colony, where the mites then feed on stored pollen (Delfinado-Baker et al., 1989). The number of Neocypholaelaps favus mites in a single colony reached up to 3,000 individuals in Japan (Ishikawa, 1968). Bees in such hives may become phoretic hosts to large numbers of mites. Up to 400 N. indica have been recorded on an individual Apis cerana (Ramanan and Swaraj, 1984). Bees carrying large numbers of phoretic mites might exhibit "discomfort" and attempt to remove the mites, and presumably their ability to fly is impaired (Eickwort, 1990).

The lifestyle decribed above is characteristic of mite species normally collected from adult honey bees (Apis), for example, Neocypholaelaps indica. Mite species found on other apid bees (Amegilla, Ctenoplectra, and Xylocopa) probably have a similar biology. Bees of the genus Thyreus that are kletoparasitic on Amegilla serve as phoretic hosts.

In contrast, some mite species (Neocypholaelaps phooni and N. malayensis) associated with stingless bees (Heterotrigona, Geniotrigona, Tetragonula, and Meliponula) develop more intimate associations with their hosts. The life cycle occurs entirely inside the bee nests, where they consume pollen and detritus, and there is no evidence of parasitism in the brood or on adults (Baker and Delfinado-Baker, 1985).

Host plant species have not been extensively studied for Neocypholaelaps, although a few records are available for some mite species. Neocypholaelaps indica, with 34 recorded host plant species (Mo, 1972), is the best studied mite in this respect.