The genus Pyemotes includes polyxenous (multi-host) or monoxenous (single-host) insect parasites. Some species of Pyemotes are natural enemies of forest insects or stored product insects. The genus is divided into two groups, scolyti and ventricosus (Cross et al., 1981).
Species of the scolyti-group are phoretic on bark beetles (Curculionidae: Scolytinae) and are not associated with bees.
Species of the ventricosus group are not known to be phoretic. At least some species possess venom. The mites inject neurotoxin-containing saliva into prey, which causes paralysis and eventual death, and enables the gravid female mites to feed on the host's hemolymph (Krczal, 1957). During feeding the female's posterior idiosoma becomes enlarged and ball-shaped (physogastry) (Figs. 3, 7), with the progeny developing inside. The host range includes a variety of hosts, and some species even attack and feed on pupae and adult insects. These mites often are dispersed by wind, and when they land on vertebrate hosts, they attempt to feed, resulting in bites. Bites of Pyemotes tritici can cause severe dermatitis on people handling infested material, such as hay. Contact with this mite can also produce asthma or nausea. Similarly, Pyemotes herfsi can bite humans, causing red, itchy, and painful wheals.
Records of Pyemotes from bees include Pyemotes ventricosus from Anthophora retusa (Apidae) in England (Newport, 1850); Pyemotes anobii Krczal, 1957 from a colony of the European honey bee, Apis mellifera (Apidae) in the United States (Cross and Moser, 1975); Pyemotes beckeri (as ventricosus) from laboratory cultures of megachilid bees (Krombein, 1967); and Pyemotes herfsi from hives of Apis cerana in India (Dinabandhoo and Dogra, 1982). In the latter case, the mites were considered pests. In Brazil, Pyemotes tritici can destroy entire colonies of stingless bees (Tetragonisca angustula, Frieseomelitta varia, Melipona subnitida, and Melipona asilvai) and cause skin irritation in beekeepers (Menezes et al., 2009; Kerr et al., 1996; and Nogueira-Neto, 1997).