Carpoglyphus lactis is a relatively common species in beehives, occurring in the debris on the bottom boards of beehives, honeycombs, dead bees, honey, and especially on the bee bread (bee pollen with added honey and bee secretions that is stored in brood cells). This mite can penetrate the brood cells and make burrows in the stored pollen, consuming it and causing the pollen and the debris to spill from the cells. The infested bee bread, mixed with large quantities of dead and live mites, turns to a golden-brown or yellow powdery material covering honeycombs and bottom boards of beehives. The mite damage is especially severe in stored overwintering nests. For example, 250 honeycombs were destroyed by these mites over one winter in a single storage area in Germany (Zander, 1947). A similar case was reported in the USA (Alabama), where stored honeycombs were found heavily infested after winter storage (Baker and Delfinado, 1978). Weak bee colonies are more susceptible to mite attacks (Zander, 1947), while healthy bee colonies usually can clean up the infested pollen (Baker and Delfinado, 1978).
Furthermore, a case of collapse of a managed colony of a stingless bee, Tetragonula iridipennis, was reported in India (Vijayakumar et al., 2013). Although the mite illustrated in this paper belongs to the family Cheyletidae, the yellowish carpet of dust on the bottom of the nest (Figs. 2A,B) may represent an astigmatid mite (Carpoglyphus).
Aside from beehives, Carpoglyphus lactis is also found in old honeycombs, wine barrels in cellars, dried sweet fruits, canned fruits, fruits preserved in sugar, fermenting pulp, dairy products (milk and cheese), and stored honey. It often infests products following substantial development of yeast. In the field, this species is found in fermenting tree sap flows, burrows of moles, and as phoretic deutonymphs on butterflies, moths, and scarabaeid beetles (e.g., Gnorimus).
When large numbers of C. lactis mites are ingested with infested food or beverages, they can cause dysentery. These mites also cause dermatitis to handlers of infested materials, such as dried plums (O'Donovan, 1922), and occupational allergies in the biological pesticide industry (Krop et al., 2012). However, they may be beneficial in the wine industry, as mite alarm pheromones enhance the aroma of pale and dry wines aged under flor yeasts (Marin et al., 2009).
The second mite species found in beehives, Carpoglyphus munroi, is relatively rare and has been recorded from beehives from the Czech Republic.