mostly neutral generalists that may live in hives and disperse on bees; feed on honey and pollen stored in honeycombs

Name and classification

Glycyphagus Hering, 1838

Superorder Acariformes » Order Sarcoptiformes » Suborder Oribatida » Infraorder Desmonomata » Hyporder Astigmata » Family Glycyphagidae » Genus Glycyphagus

Type species
Glycyphagus prunorum Hering, 1838 (=Acarus domesticus De Geer, 1778, synonymized in Samšiňák, 1965, but this synonymy has not been accepted by all).

Common synonyms
Lepidoglyphus Zachvatkin, 1936 (as a genus; here considered a subgenus of Glycyphagus)

Common names
Glycyphagus domesticus: furniture mite, grocer's itch mite, hairy grain mite, house mite; Glycyphagus destructor: storage mite, hay mite, fodder mite


Adult: Prodorsum with external vertical setae ve absent (Figs. 6, 7). Internal vertical setae (vi) situated distinctly posterior to the anterior margin of the propodosoma, long, barbed (Figs. 6, 7). Scapular setae (si, se) arranged in a trapezoid or rectangle (Figs. 6, 7). Prodorsal sclerotization called a crista metopica (Fig. 7), a widened sclerite or absent (Fig. 6). Some dorsal setae long and heavily barbed (Fig. 1). Anus positioned near posterior margin of body (Fig. 8). Subcapitulum with a distinct pattern of ventral ridges (Fig. 5). Tibiae I-II with 2 ventral setae (Figs. 10, 11). Claws simple, small (Figs. 11, 12). Female usually with a short external copulatory tube (Fig. 8). Males without paranal suckers and tarsal suckers on tarsus IV (Fig. 4). Without a subtarsal scale (Glycyphagus (Glycyphagus)) (Figs. 4, 11) or with a subtarsal scale Glycyphagus (Lepidoglyphus) (Fig. 9, 10, 12).

Species identification

A dichotomous key is available in Hughes, 1976, which can be used to identify all species recorded from bees and bee nests.


Cosmopolitan. Found in association with bees in the Palaearctic and Oriental regions.

Bee hosts

The following bees have been recorded to harbor Glycyphagus in their nests: honey bees (Apis) (a very common host), bumble bees (Bombus), and large carpenter bees (Xylocopa). Phoresy of feeding stages of mites on adult bees has been reported.

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

  • Species of Glycyphagus are habitat generalists; all stages live in various habitats, including bee nests, where they feed on various organic materials.
  • Phoretic deutonymphs are absent. Feeding stages disperse on hosts (including bees) by active movements or by air currents.


These are generalist species occurring in a variety of habitats: rodent and bird nests, stored products (as a pest), house dust, grass and hay, and others. These mites have also been found in nests of social insects, including bees. Glycyphagus causes dermatitis, gastritis, and allergies in humans.

These mites are common in beehives, especially on debris from bottom boards. Infestation rates have been reported ranging from 20% (Grobov, 1978), to 98.8% (Chmielewski, 1991c), to 100% (Vitzthum, 1936). Often there are hundreds of thousands of mites in a single beehive. They feed on decomposing organic matter, stored pollen, beehive debris, and honey, but often prefer dead bees. Glycyphagus (Glycyphagus) domesticus and Glycyphagus (Lepidoglyphus) destructor are the most common and abundant species, while other species are much more rare [Glycyphagus (Glycyphagus) ornatus, Glycyphagus (Lepidoglyphus) privatus, and Glycyphagus (Lepidoglyphus) michaeli]. In Poland, Glycyphagus domesticus has been found to be the most common species of all mites, occurring in 98.8% of samples (Chmielewski, 1991c), while G. destructor was found only in 4.9% of samples. In German beehives, these two species occurred at nearly the same frequency (Homann, 1933).

Under laboratory conditions, Glycyphagus domesticus preferred bee bread, pollen, mold, and beehive debris, followed by combs and wax, honey, propolis, and dead bees; no reproduction occurred on royal jelly. In contrast, G. destructor preferred dead brood bees, mold, and beehive debris (Chmielewski, 1991c).