neutral; probably feeds on pollen, mold, and beehive debris

Name and classification

Tyrophagus Oudemans, 1924

Superorder Acariformes » Order Sarcoptiformes » Suborder Oribatida » Infraorder Desmonomata » Hyporder Astigmata » Family Acaridae » Genus Tyrophagus

Type species
Acarus putrescentiae Schrank, 1781

Common synonyms
Coelognathus von Hessling, 1852 (preoccupied in Reptilia); Povelsenia Oudemans, 1924

Common names
mold mite, storage mite (Tyrophagus putrescentiae), seed mite, copra mite (Tyrophagus longior)


Adult: Setae ve situated near anterior lateral corners of prodorsal sclerite (Figs. 7, 8). Setae ve barbed, subequal with vi (Figs. 7, 8). Setae si longer than se (Fig. 8). Some hysterosomal setae (typically c1, d1, and d2) shorter than the distance to the next posterior seta (Figs. 1, 3). Genu I with solenidion σ' slightly longer than σ'' (Fig. 10). Tarsi I-II more than twice as long as basal width (Fig. 10). Proral setae (p) thinner than unguinal setae (u) but similar in length (Fig. 11). Grandjean's organ finger-like (Figs. 5, 6). Supracoxal setae of gnathosoma simple (not bi- or trifurcate at tips) (Figs. 7, 8). Coxal plate II well-developed and broad (Fig. 13).

Species identification

Dichotomous key to adults of Tyrophagus is available in Fan and Zhang, 2007. Although this key does not include all species of Tyrophagus and covers the Australasian region only, all but one known species of Tyrophagus found in associations with bees can be identified using this key. The exception is Tyrophagus debrivorus Chinniah and Mohanasundaram, 1996 (poorly described). In this key Tyrophagus putrescentiae is treated under the name "Tyrophagus communis" (junior synonym and invalid name), while for the name "Tyrophagus putrescentiae" in this key, the name Tyrophagus fanetzhangorum should be used.

Similar genera

Tyrophagus is similar to Tyroborus (not included in this tool) but differs by its simple gnathosomal supracoxal seta (bi- or trifurcated in Tyroborus) and by its broad coxal plate II (reduced and L-shaped in Tyroborus).

Tyrophagus is similar to Tyrolichus but differs by the presence of short dorsal hysterosomal setae (typically c1, d1, and d2) that are shorter than the distance to the next posterior setae (all hysterosomal setae are longer than the distance to the next posterior setae in Tyrolichus).


Cosmopolitan including Antarctica and low Earth orbit (onboard spacecraft).

Species associated with bees have been found in all zoogeographic regions but there is no data from Africa, and bees are absent from Antarctica.

Bee hosts

disperses as feeding stages on honey bees (Apis) and bumble bees (Bombus); non-phoretic feeding stages common in nests of honey bees, bumble bees, and stingless bees (Meliponini)

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

facultative for generalist species that invade bee nests

Host associations, feeding, and dispersal

Generalist species (including bee-associated mites)

  • All stages live in different peridomestic and agricultural habitats, including hives of honey bees, where they feed on various organic materials, fungi, and nematodes.
  • Phoretic deutonymphs are absent. Feeding stages disperse by active movements, air currents, or with a host (bees or other organisms).


Ten species have been recorded from bees: Tyrophagus curvipenis, T. debrivorus, T. longior, T. mixtus, T. perniciosus, T. putrescentiae, T. savasi, T. similis, T. tropicus, and T. vanheurni.

In bee nests probably feeds primarily on moldy debris and nematodes, without causing any damage to the bees. In laboratory experiments, Tyrophagus putrescentiae was able to feed on a wide range of food items: bee bread, pollen, beehive debris, dead brood bees, mold, honey, propolis, combs and wax. This species, like Carpoglyphus lactis, was able to consume royal jelly. However, another species, Tyrophagus longior, did not reproduce on this food source (Chmielewski, 1991c).

The genus Tyrophagus includes many species commonly found on various organic substances in human-related habitats, such as human dwellings, granaries, various agricultural situations, and even onboard spacecraft. Feeding stages occur on stored products, including grains, cereals, dried fruits, seeds, cheese, fresh produce, as well as animal food, insect cultures and house dust. Often attracted to moldy and wet materials. Also known as an agricultural pest that damages young plants, especially in greenhouses and nurseries. In the field can be found in soil, litter, decomposing plant materials, nests of birds, mammals, honey bees (Apis spp.), bumble bees (Bombus sp.), stingless bees (Meliponini), and solitary bees.

Most species of Tyrophagus do not form phoretic deutonymphs and may disperse as feeding stages by active movements, air currents, or by various organisms, including ground beetles and bees (Apis, Bombus).

Many species of Tyrophagus are habitat generalists. However, one lineage, Tyrophagus formicetorum and related species, is restricted to ant nests and has not been found anywhere else, indicating that this lineage is specialized to ants. Species in this lineage do form phoretic deutonymphs.

Tyrophagus causes allergic reactions and dermatitis in sensitive individuals. Multiple cases of severe anaphylaxis have been reported after ingesting mite-infested food (pancake syndrome, okonomiyaki syndrome, or oral mite anaphylaxis) (reviewed in Sanchez-Borges and Fernandez-Caldas, 2015).