neutral to beneficial; feeds on decomposing organic matter in nest cells

Name and classification

Glycycometus Pillai, 1957

Superorder Acariformes » Order Sarcoptiformes » Suborder Oribatida » Infraorder Desmonomata » Hyporder Astigmata » Family Aeroglyphidae » Genus Glycycometus

Type species
Glycycometus travancoricus Pillai, 1957

Common synonyms
Austroglycyphagus Fain et Lowry, 1974, Coleochaeta Volgin and Akimov, 1975


Adult: Prodorsum with external vertical setae (ve) present, anterior to vi (Fig. 4). Ventral subcapitulum without external ridges (Fig. 3). Opisthosoma with rows of small, closely spaced microtrichiae (small hair- or tooth-like processes) extending between the bases of most lateral body setae (Figs. 5, 7, 8). Most dorsal setae elongate and heavily barbed, except for c1, which is elongate but smooth (Fig. 5). Pretarsal ambulacra short, relatively simple (Figs. 10, 11). Empodial claws reduced or absent (Figs. 10, 11). Anus positioned near posterior margin of body (Figs. 2, 6). Tarsi I-IV with an elongate scale-like basal seta (Fig. 10, 11). Males with a sclerotized plate posterior to aedeagus, bearing setae ps3 (Fig. 9).


Palaearctic, Afrotropical, Neotropical, Oriental, and Australian regions. This genus is more common in the tropics. Records from bees are from the Afrotropical regions (Tanzania and Rwanda) and Oriental regions (India, Thailand, and The Philippines).

Bee hosts

Colonies of these mites have been found in nests of honey bees Apis mellifera, Apis cerana, and Apis florea, and large carpenter bee Xylocopa nigrita. Feeding stages may disperse on mammals and various insects, including bees (Apis mellifera and Apis cerana).

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 various habitats, including house dust, stored products, bat guano, and beehives. Three species have been found only in bee nests so far and may be bee-specialists.
  • This genus does not form phoretic deutonymphs.
  • Feeding stages disperse on adult bees and probably by active movements.


Mites of this genus have been found in bird nests, stored food, house dust, bat guano, bracket fungi (Polyporus), and bee nests (Apis spp., and Xylocopa). Dispersing mites have been found on Galagoides demidovii (Prince Demidoff's bushbaby), large flying fox Pteropus vampyrus (a bat), Trirhithrum coffeae (fruit fly of the family Tephritidae), and honey bees (Apis spp.).

Many species found in honey bee nests are generalists also found in other habitats: Glycycometus malaysiensis, Glycycometus molitor, and Glycycometus thailandicus. However, some species have so far been found only in bee nests where they feed on decomposing organic matter in nest cells: Glycycometus geniculatus sensu Vitzthum, Glycycometus rwandae, and Glycycometus combus.

In India, Glycycometus molitor, G. thailandicus, and G. 'orientalis' (nom. nud) have been found in vacated combs, hive debris, brood combs, and dead bees in nests of Apis mellifera and A. cerana. Phoresy on worker bees has been detected in all three species (Sumangala and Haq, 2001). Glycycometus malaysiensis and G. thailandicus have been classified as saprophagous in beehives (Malabanan and Corpuz-Raros, 1998). Glycycometus combus was isolated from stored, damaged comb of Apis florea; these mites were observed to feed actively and reproduce well on the comb material (Chinniah and Mohanasundaram, 1996).