at least one pest species; feeds on pollen stored in honeycombs, honey, royal jelly, and other nest materials; may cause colony collapse

Name and classification

Carpoglyphus Robin, 1869 (sometimes, the year is cited as 1860, however, Carpoglyphus Robin, 1860 is not an available name; Robin, 1860 cites some collective characters for "Carpoglyphus" and other genera of mites, which does not constitute a valid description, and, thus, the name Carpoglyphus Robin, 1860 (nom. nud.) is unavailable (ICZN Art. 12.1)).

Superorder Acariformes » Order Sarcoptiformes » Suborder Oribatida » Infraorder Desmonomata » Hyporder Astigmata » Family Carpoglyphidae » Genus Carpoglyphus

Type species
"Carpoglyphus passularum (Robin, 1869 ex Hering, 1838)" (=Acarus passularum sensu Robin, 1869 non Hering, 1838; =Acarus lactis Linnaeus, 1767).

Common synonyms
Dichotomiopus Fain and Camerik, 1978 (OConnor, unpublished synonymy, types studied)

Common names
prune mite, dried fruit mite, driedfruit mite, sugar mite; all names apply to Carpoglyphus lactis


Phoretic deutonymph: Empodial claws arising from membranous ambulacra I-IV (not from tarsal apices) (Figs. 4, 5). Leg IV with empodial claw present (Fig. 5). Leg IV generally similar in form to leg III (Figs. 2, 5). Posterior median ventral apodeme absent (Fig. 2). Ocelli present, widely separated on propodosoma (Fig. 3).

Adult: Prodorsum with setae ve absent (Fig. 8). Prodorsal sclerite absent (Fig. 8). Setae vi situated about half-way between anterior edge of propodosoma and setae si (Fig. 8). Ocelli present (Fig. 8). Supracoxal gland opening not associated with a large sclerotized region (Fig. 8). Tarsi I-II elongate (Fig. 11). Pretarsi similar on all legs (Fig. 11). Pretarsi with long, thin condylophores (Figs. 11, 13). Empodial claws present (Figs. 11, 13). Dorsal setae smooth, not heavily barbed (Fig. 6). Males without paranal suckers or sucker-like setae on tarsus IV (Fig. 13). Coxal apodemes I fused medially with coxal apodemes II closing coxal fields I in both sexes (Fig. 9). Condylophores asymmetrical in male (Fig. 12). Male with genital setae (g) and coxal setae 4b present (Fig. 10).

Species identification

A dichotomous key to adults (males and females) is available in Fain and Rack, 1987. This key can be used to identify the two species found in associations with bees: Carpoglyphus lactis and Carpoglyphus munroi. One non bee-associated species, Carpoglyphus wardleorum, was described later (Clark, 2010).


Cosmopolitain. Mites from honey bees have been reported from the Holarctic, Oriental, and Australian regions.

Bee hosts

Feeding stages live in beehives of honey bees (Apis) and probably in nests of 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


Host associations, feeding, and dispersal

  • These mites live in a variety of habitats that often consist of sugary and fermenting materials. In honey bee hives, they feed on various components, including pollen stored in honeycombs (bee bread or bee pollen), plant pollen, honey, and nest debris.
  • Phoretic deutonymphs disperse on adult insect hosts to suitable habitats. Phoresy is known on Lepidoptera and Coleoptera but not on bees.


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.