probably mutualistic; feeds on harmful mites or other small arthropods in bee nests

Name and classification

Cheletophyes Oudemans, 1914

Superorder Acariformes » Order Trombidiformes » Suborder Prostigmata » Infraorder Eleutherengona » Hyporder Raphignathina » Family Cheyletidae » Genus Cheletophyes

Type species
Cheletophyes vitzthumi Oudemans, 1914


Female: Hysteronotal shield situated at posterior end of idiosoma very far from propodonotal shield (Fig. 1).

Other diagnostic characters

Female: Idiosoma rhomboid, not elongate (Fig. 1). Palptarsus with 2 comb-like setae, acm and sul (Figs. 3, 4). Palpfemur with 4 setae (vF’,vF’’,dF, l’’Ge) (Fig. 4). Seta dGe on palpgenu rod-like or filiform (not lanceolate or fan-like) (Fig. 3). Peritremes M-shaped (Fig. 3). Tarsal seta vs posterior to level of solenidion ω1 (Fig. 1). Setae se situated off propodonotal shield (Fig. 1). Setae f2 lateral, not medial (Fig. 1).

Species identification

A dichotomous key is available in Fain and Bochkov, 2001. Species described after 2001 should be identified using their original descriptions.


Oriental, Afrotropical, Australian, and Neotropical regions

Bee hosts

large carpenter bees (Xylocopa)

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 large carpenter bees (Xylocopa spp.), where they feed on small arthropods.
  • In the Old World, mite females disperse in the axillar acarinarium of adult female bees. Female mites probably disperse on the bodies of New World bees.


All stages of these mites are predators of different microarthropods that feed on provisions in the bees' nests (Eickwort, 1994). In the Old World, females of Cheletophyes disperse in mesosomal (axillar) acarinaria of adult female bees (Figs. 5, 6). Acarinaria are absent in male bees. According to the hypothesis of OConnor (1993), the relationships between Cheletophyes and their bee hosts are mutualistic, and the bees have developed mesosomal acarinaria to transfer these predaceous mites that control nest kleptoparasites. Despite the fact that the mites do not directly depend on resources provided by the bees, they are highly specific to their hosts (Klimov et al., 2006). One species, Cheletophyes panamensis, has been recorded for the Neotropical region (Klompen et al., 1984). This species has been found in the nest of its host only. Large carpenter bees from the Neotropical region lack an acarinarium. So far, phoretic specimens of Ch. panamensis have not been discovered on their host's bodies, although it is likely this species can disperse on the bodies of adult female bees.