may be harmful; consumes provisioned pollen in nest; phoretic mites may be irritating

Name and classification

Afrocypholaelaps Elsen, 1972

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

Type species
Neocypholaelaps africana Evans, 1963


Female: Dorsal shield not rugose (Figs. 1, 3, 6), with 29 pairs of setae (Fig. 3); setae j1 simple (Figs. 3, 6); setae J5 absent (Fig. 3). Corniculi undivided, surrounded by transparent membrane (Fig. 8). All legs with well developed ambulacrum (Figs. 2, 9), claws reduced (Fig. 9). Spermathecal ducts (rami) fused above spermatheca (Fig. 10).

Species identification

A dichotomous key is available in Ho et al., 2010, but Afrocypholaelaps ewae was omitted. Note that Afrocypholaelaps dalyi Elsen, 1974 should be placed in the genus Hattena.

Similar genera

Similar to Hattena. Can be distinguished by the presence of 29 pairs of setae on the dorsal shield (25 or fewer pairs in Hattena) and by the fused spermathecal rami (separate in Hattena).


Tropics of the Old World and Oceania; includes Africa, Australia, Taiwan, Hawaii, and Saint Helena Island.

Bee hosts

Mites of the genus Afrocypholaelaps live on various tropical flowers and use insect hosts merely as transport. Hence there is no specificity to a particular insect host. These mites are most common on European honey bee Apis mellifera (Afrocypholaelaps africana, A. analicullus). In addition, Afrocypholaelaps africana has been found on a variety of flower-visiting bees: Meliponula (a stingless bee), Ceratina (Apidae), Hylaeus pubescens (Colletidae), as well as wasps in the genus Chlorion (Sphecidae).

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 normally live on flowers of various plants where they feed on pollen and nectar.
  • Dispersal occurs on adult bees and other flower-visiting insects. Female is the phoretic stage.


Observations on feeding and phoretic biology are available in Seeman and Walter, 1999. On the honey bee Apis mellifera, most Afrocypholaelaps africana mites occur at the base of the mouthparts on foraging bees, while on non-foraging bees they have been found on the mesosoma or metasoma. These bees, unlike foraging bees, attempted to remove the mites. Foraging bees may tolerate or be unaware of phoretic mites, but attempt to groom the mites off when they return to the hive. Grooming may cause the mites to move to another position on the bee.

Plant hosts have not been extensively studied for Afrocypholaelaps, although Afrocypholaelaps africana has been found in very large numbers on flowers of the river mangrove Aegiceras corniculatum in Australia (Seeman and Walter, 1999).