probably not harmful; non bee-associated mites feed on decomposing organic materials and mold, but feeding habits of bee-associated species unknown

Name and classification

Saproglyphus Berlese, 1890

Superorder Acariformes » Order Sarcoptiformes » Suborder Oribatida » Infraorder Desmonomata » Hyporder Astigmata » Family Winterschmidtiidae » Genus Saproglyphus

Type species
Saproglyphus neglectus Berlese, 1890

Common synonyms
Calvolia Oudemans, 1911 (in part, synonymy by B. OConnor, unpublished)


Adults: Condylophores fused into a V-shaped sclerite in base of ambulacral stalk (Fig. 11) and idiosoma with 4-5 pairs of setae longer than the width of the body, these setae borne on angular protuberances (Fig. 8).

Other diagnostic characters

Phoretic deutonymph: Setae ba I-II and aa I absent (Fig. 6). Pretarsal ambulacrum and empodial claw present on legs I-II (Fig. 6). Empodial claws I-III borne on long condylophores (often poorly visible), encompassed by elongated membranous ambulacra (Figs. 6, 7). Tarsus I with solenidia closely associated, usually in the basal half of the tarsus (Fig. 6). Tarsi I-II with 7 setae (e, f, d, p', la, ra, wa), of which 4 foliate (ra, la, f, p') (Fig. 6). Tibiae I-II with 1 ventral seta (gT I-II present, hT I-II absent) (Fig. 6). Empodial claws I-III small and simple (Figs. 6, 7). Empodial claw IV absent (Fig. 7). Leg IV shorter than leg III (Fig. 7). Tarsus IV with 2-4 long apical setae (none foliate) (Fig. 7). Coxal apodemes III fused together (Fig. 2). Ocelli present on anterior apex of propodosoma with separate lenses and pigment spots (Fig. 4).

Adults: Pretarsal ambulacrum not greatly expanded, empodial claws present (Fig. 11). Prodorsum with external vertical setae (ve) absent (Fig. 10). Supracoxal gland opening not associated with large sclerite. Internal vertical setae (vi) at anterior edge of propodosoma (Fig. 10). Tibiae I-II with 1 ventral seta (Fig. 11). Genu III with a dorsal solenidion (Fig. 12). Femur IV with 1 ventral seta (Fig. 9). Tarsi long, at least three times as long as wide (Figs. 8, 11, 12). Male without obvious striation pattern on hysterosoma.

Species identification

This genus needs a revision. An older key, including the two described species found on bees (Saproglyphus hagensis and Saproglyphus reticulatus), is available in Zachvatkin, 1941. Notes: in this key (i) phoretic deutonymphs are given under the name Calvolia; (ii) membership of Calvolia reticulata in Saproglyphus needs to be verified; and (iii) Saproglyphus hagensis is included, but not illustrated; it has been illustrated and described based on type specimens in Fain, 1972.


Palaearctic and Holarctic (only for species of Saproglyphus found in associations with bees).

Bee hosts

Bee hosts include Hylaeus, Osmia, Hoplitis, and Apis.

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 (Saproglyphus hagensis); may be permanent but uncertain (Saproglyphus reticulatus).

Host associations, feeding, and dispersal

  • Feeding stages live in decomposing organic materials, under bark, or on fungi, feeding primarily on mold. Several species show some degree of specificity (e.g., mites associated with bark beetles). It is unknown whether some species can live temporarily or permanently in bee nests.
  • Phoretic deutonymphs disperse on different animals, including bees.


Phoretic deutonymphs are most common on bark beetles, but they have also been found on dung beetles, longhorn beetles, leaf beetles (Aphthona), earwigs, flies, springtails, and rodents. Feeding stages of Saproglyphus are found in decomposing organic materials, including fungi, or under bark, feeding primarily on fungi. Generalist species live in a variety of habitats and use different animals for dispersal. Saproglyphus hagensis is an example of a generalist species, a fewphoretic deutonymphs of which have been found dispersing on the bee Hylaeus nivalis (Kuhlmann, 1998).

Several species of Saproglyphus show some degree of specificity (e.g., mites associated with bark beetles). A few species (Saproglyphus reticulatus from Hoplitis, and an undescribed species from the USA from Osmia) may be specific to bees, although it is unknown whether their feeding stages live only in bee nests or in other habitats as well. It is possible that these deutonymphs opportunistically attach to bees that come in close proximity to their principal habitat.

Finally, a single deutonymph of an unidentified species of Saproglyphus was found in a beehive of Apis mellifera (Haragsim et al., 1987). This is probably an accidental record. It is impossible to evaluate the degree of specificity of this species.