Invasive Species Compendium

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Tropilaelaps

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Datasheet

Tropilaelaps

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 14 July 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Vector of Animal Disease
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Tropilaelaps
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Chelicerata
  •         Class: Arachnida
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Tropilaelaps is a genus of mites that parasitise the brood of Asian honey bees; they spread to the European honey bee (Apis mellifera) after it was introduced to Asia. These mites are very damaging pes...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Tropilaelaps sp. (Asian bee mites); mites on European honey bee larvae and pupa (Apis mellifera), and a deformed bee (arrowed). Tropilaelaps is a genus of mites that parasitise the brood of Asian honey bees; they spread to the European honey bee (Apis mellifera) after it was introduced to Asia.
TitleMites on European honey bee larvae and pupa
CaptionTropilaelaps sp. (Asian bee mites); mites on European honey bee larvae and pupa (Apis mellifera), and a deformed bee (arrowed). Tropilaelaps is a genus of mites that parasitise the brood of Asian honey bees; they spread to the European honey bee (Apis mellifera) after it was introduced to Asia.
Copyright©Dr Denis Anderson/CSIRO-scienceimage - CC BY 3.0
Tropilaelaps sp. (Asian bee mites); mites on European honey bee larvae and pupa (Apis mellifera), and a deformed bee (arrowed). Tropilaelaps is a genus of mites that parasitise the brood of Asian honey bees; they spread to the European honey bee (Apis mellifera) after it was introduced to Asia.
Mites on European honey bee larvae and pupaTropilaelaps sp. (Asian bee mites); mites on European honey bee larvae and pupa (Apis mellifera), and a deformed bee (arrowed). Tropilaelaps is a genus of mites that parasitise the brood of Asian honey bees; they spread to the European honey bee (Apis mellifera) after it was introduced to Asia.©Dr Denis Anderson/CSIRO-scienceimage - CC BY 3.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Tropilaelaps Delfinado & Baker, 1961

Summary of Invasiveness

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Tropilaelaps is a genus of mites that parasitise the brood of Asian honey bees; they spread to the European honey bee (Apis mellifera) after it was introduced to Asia. These mites are very damaging pests of A. mellifera throughout Asia; so far they have not spread significantly beyond Asia and neighbouring areas (such as New Guinea), but they are considered damaging enough, and likely enough to be spread to new regions, to be a significant emerging threat to world apiculture.

Tropilaelaps infestation is on the list of diseases notifiable to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Chelicerata
  •                 Class: Arachnida
  •                     Subclass: Acari
  •                         Order: Parasitiformes
  •                             Suborder: Mesostigmata
  •                                 Family: Laelapidae
  •                                     Genus: Tropilaelaps

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Tropilaelaps is a genus in the mite family Laelapidae. This datasheet covers four species: Tropilaelapsclareae, Tropilaelaps koenigerum, Tropilaelaps thaii and Tropilaelaps mercedesae. T. clareae was previously thought to be ubiquitous in Asia, but has now been found to be two species: following a genetic and morphological study, Anderson and Morgan (2007) redefined T. clareae as containing haplotypes that parasitise native Apis dorsata breviligula and introduced A. mellifera in the Philippines, and native A.dorsata binghami on Sulawesi Island in Indonesia. The new species T. mercedesae (previously mistaken for T. clareae) was defined as including haplotypes that parasitise native A. dorsata dorsata and introduced A. mellifera in mainland Asia and Indonesia (except Sulawesi), as does the already known species T. koenigerum. T. mercedesae and another new species, T. thaii, were also recorded as attacking A. laboriosa [A. dorsata laboriosa] in mountainous Himalayan regions.

A study by Luo et al. (2011) analysed mitochondrial DNA to determine which species of Tropilaelaps were present in China. Samples were collected from Apis mellifera in 72 locations in 25 provinces; all were found to be T. mercedesae.

Distribution

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T. clareae was first discovered on Apis mellifera in the Philippines (Delfinado and Baker, 1961), but Tropilaelaps are found throughout much of Asia (Anderson and Morgan, 2007) and infest a range of honeybee species (Bailey and Ball, 1991; Schmid-Hempel, 1998). Apart from a doubtful record from Kenya in the early 1990s, Tropilaelaps mites have not yet been found outside Asia and bordering areas (Anderson and Roberts, 2013). Glinski and Kostro (2001) mention T. clareae as being a problem in South Africa, but no other evidence of this is apparent.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

History of Introduction and Spread

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Tropilaelaps mites are found throughout much of Asia (Anderson and Morgan, 2007). They were introduced to New Guinea in the 1980s in colonies of Apis mellifera imported from Java, and have become a damaging pest there. Although there is considered to be a risk of Tropilaelaps spreading and becoming a pest in other places beyond its native range, it has so far remained restricted to Asia and bordering regions. A record from Kenya in the early 1990s has not been verified and may well have resulted from a false identification (Anderson and Roberts, 2013). Glinski and Kostro (2001) mention T. clareae as being a problem in South Africa, but no other evidence of this is apparent.

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Irian Jaya Java 1980s Yes Anderson and Roberts (2013) Introduced in Apis mellifera colonies

Risk of Introduction

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Tropilaelaps mites are mobile and can easily move between bees and within a hive; however, they require adult bees to move between colonies and are therefore spread over longer distances via the natural processes of drifting, robbing and swarming (bees abandoning a severely infested hive may help to spread the mites). They can also be spread on equipment or via the usual practices of beekeepers. The main and most rapid means of spread is the movement of infested Apis mellifera colonies to new areas by beekeepers (Defra, 2005; FERA, 2013).

The fact that Tropilaelaps mites can survive for only a few days without access to bee brood and are found on adult bees only in small numbers has probably helped to limit their spread, as it is usually adult bees that are transported from country to country by humans. However, the risk of introduction to new countries is by no means negligible. Experience in the cooler highland regions of New Guinea suggests that the mites can survive in temperate climates provided they have year-round access to honey bee brood, which is the case in significant parts of the world (for example as far north as the southern UK – Defra, 2005). These facts, together with the significant damage that they can cause to bee colonies, makes them a serious threat to world beekeeping that deserves the immediate attention of the global research community (Anderson and Roberts, 2013).

Pathogen Characteristics

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Tropilaelaps mites are reddish brown, approximately 1 mm long and 0.6 mm wide, and have a similar life cycle to Varroa destructor (see datasheet on V. destructor). They are free-moving ectoparasites of honey bees and move rapidly over combs. They feed on brood and their mouthparts are unable to pierce the membranes of adult bees (Defra, 2005; FERA, 2013). They hold their first pair of legs upright, resembling antennae (Anderson and Roberts, 2013).

Males of T. thaii have not yet been discovered; those of the other three species are slightly smaller than females, and can be distinguished by their smaller and pointed epigynial thoracic plates and the presence of a sperm transfer organ (Anderson and Roberts, 2013).

The nymphal stages of all four species are brilliant white and easily observed (Anderson and Roberts, 2013).

Host Animals

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Animal nameContextLife stageSystem
Apis ceranaDomesticated host, Wild hostOther: Juvenile
Apis dorsataWild hostOther: Juvenile
Apis dorsata binghamiWild hostOther: Juvenile
Apis dorsata breviligulaWild hostOther: Juvenile
Apis dorsata dorsataWild hostOther: Juvenile
Apis dorsata laboriosaWild hostOther: Juvenile
Apis floreaWild hostOther: Juvenile
Apis melliferaDomesticated host, Wild hostOther: Juvenile

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Donovan and Paul (2005) suggested that restoring appropriate species of pseudoscorpions (i.e. Ellingsenius fulleri and E. indicus) to bee colonies could help save bees from problems such as Tropilaelaps sp..

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
HitchhikerOn bees or beekeeping equipment moved for apicultural purposes. Yes Yes Defra, 2005

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Host and vector organisms Yes Yes Defra, 2005
Machinery and equipment Yes Yes Defra, 2005

Economic Impact

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Honeybee mites are major limiting factors in beekeeping, and Tropilaelaps can causes 50-100% loss of bee colonies (Hosamani et al., 2006). High infestations of A. mellifera brood often result in adult bees with deformed wings and reduced body weight; untreated infestations rapidly increase to high levels and invariably lead to the death of entire colonies (Anderson and Roberts, 2013). Honey bees are important to the agricultural and horticultural sectors as pollinators, so any disease causing decline in bee populations will have a significant impact on their role in these industries.

Dainat et al. (2009) investigated T. mercedesae as a vector of honeybee viruses. They sampled worker bees and T. mercedesae mites from three A. mellifera colonies exhibiting symptoms of deformed wing virus (DWV). They analysed samples for DWV, Black queen cell virus (BQCV), Sacbrood virus (SBV), Kashmir bee virus (KBV), Acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV) and Chronic bee paralysis virus (CBPV). Only DWV was found, but evidence indicated virus replication. The authors concluded that T. mercedesae may be a biological vector of DWV, indicating a route for virus spread in A. mellifera.

Bee decline caused by Tropilaelaps and other problems will have a significantly negative affect on pollination by bees. The value of pollination is estimated to exceed the value of products from beehives many-fold (Delaplane and Mayer, 2000).

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

Bee decline caused by Tropilaelaps and other problems will have a significant negative affect on pollination by bees in habitats where such pollination may be important.

Impact on Biodiversity

Any decline in native bees due to infestation by Tropilaelaps would have a negative effect on bee biodiversity (although so far the main negative impacts have been on A. mellifera in areas to which it has been introduced).

Social Impact

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The effect of Tropilaelaps infestations on honeybee health will also have a significant impact on the livelihood of beekeepers who rely on their industry for income.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Has high reproductive potential
Impact outcomes
  • Host damage
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
Impact mechanisms
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Parasitism (incl. parasitoid)
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
  • Difficult/costly to control

References

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Anderson DL; Morgan MJ, 2007. Genetic and morphological variation of bee-parasitic Tropilaelaps mites (Acari: Laelapidae): new and re-defined species. Experimental and Applied Acarology, 43(1):1-24. http://springerlink.metapress.com/content/q426136l7374g615/?p=b8a21b93466846ffaccced5cefeb1e17&pi=0

Anderson DL; Roberts JMK, 2013. Standard methods for Tropilaelaps mites research. Journal of Apicultural Research, 52(4):article 21. http://dx.doi.org/10.3896/IBRA.1.52.4.21

Arun K; Sharma SK, 2003. Evaluation of sulfur application methods against Tropilaelaps clareae Delfinado and Baker in Apis mellifera L. colonies. Uttar Pradesh Journal of Zoology, 23(2):159-160.

Bailey L; Ball BV, 1991. Honey bee pathology, Ed. 2. Sidcup, Kent, UK: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, vii + 193 pp.

Cuthbertson AGS; Brown MA, 2009. Issues affecting British honey bee biodiversity and the need for conservation of this important ecological component. International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, 6(4):695-699. http://www.ceers.org/ijest

Dainat B; Ken T; Berthoud H; Neumann P, 2009. The ectoparasitic mite Tropilaelaps mercedesae (Acari, Laelapidae) as a vector of honeybee viruses. Insectes Sociaux, 56(1):40-43. http://www.springerlink.com/content/1420-9098

Defra, 2005. Tropilaelaps: parasitic mites of honey bees. London, UK: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 14 pp. http://adlib.everysite.co.uk/adlib/defra/content.aspx?doc=139796&id=139797

Delaplane KS; Mayer DF, 2000. Crop pollination by bees. Wallingford, UK: CABI Publishing, xv + 344 pp. http://www.cabi.org/CABeBooks/default.aspx?site=107&page=45&LoadModule=PDFHier&BookID=26

Delfinado MD; Baker EW, 1961. Tropilaelaps, a new genus of mite from the Philippines (Laelapidae: Acarina). Fieldiana Zoology, 44(7):53-56.

Delfinado-Baker M; Baker EW, 1982. A new species of Tropilaelaps parasitic on honey bees. American Bee Journal, 122(6):416-417.

Delfinado-Baker M; Underwood BA; Baker EW, 1985. The occurrence of Tropilaelaps mites in brood nests of Apis dorsata and A. laboriosa in Nepal, with descriptions of the nymphal stages. American Bee Journal, 125(10):703-706.

Donovan BJ; Paul F, 2005. Pseudoscorpions: the forgotten beneficials inside beehives and their potential for management for control of varroa and other arthropod pests. Bee World, 86(4):83-87.

FERA (Food and Environment Research Agency), 2013. Tropilaelaps - parasitic mites of honey bees. Sand Hutton, UK: Food and Environment Research Agency, 24 pp. https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/downloadDocument.cfm?id=18

Forsgren E; Miranda JR de; Isaksson M; Wei S; Fries I, 2008. Deformed wing virus associated with Tropilaelaps mercedesae infesting European honey bees (Apis mellifera). Experimental and Applied Acarology, 47(2):87-97.

Glinski Z; Kostro K, 2001. New parasitic diseases affecting honeybees. (Nowe parazytozy pszczoy miodnej.) Annales Universitatis Mariae Curie-Skodowska. Sectio DD, Medicina Veterinaria, 56:49-58.

Hosamani RK; Rachna Gulati; Sharma SK, 2006. Bioecology and management of honeybee mite, Tropilaelaps clareae Delfinado and Baker - a review. Agricultural Reviews, 27(3):191-199.

Hosamani RK; Rachna Gulati; Sharma SK; Rishi Kumar, 2007. Efficacy of some botanicals against ectoparasitic mite, Tropilaelaps clareae (Acari: Laelapidae) in Apis mellifera colonies. Systematic and Applied Acarology, 12(2):99-108. http://www.acarology.org

Koeniger G; Koeniger N; Anderson DL; Lekprayoon C; Tingek S, 2002. Mites from debris and sealed brood cells of Apis dorsata colonies in Sabah (Borneo) Malaysia, including a new haplotype of Varroa jacobsoni. Apidologie, 33(1):15-24.

Laigo FM; Morse RA, 1968. The mite Tropilaelaps clareae in Apis dorsata colonies in the Philippines. Bee World, 3:116-118 pp.

Le Minh Hoang; Pham Khac Hieu, 2002. Study on the invasion and reproduction of Varroa jacobsoni and Tropilaelaps clareae in honey bees (Apis mellifera) in Daklak province. Khoa Hoc Ky Thuat Thu Y (Veterinary Sciences and Techniques), 9(1):42-45.

Lee B, 1995. Mites, bees, and plagues that are and might be. Partners in Research for Development, No. 8:2-9.

Luo QiHua; Zhou Ting; Wang Qiang; Dai PingLi; Wu YanYan; Song HuaiLei, 2011. Identification of Tropilaelaps mites (Acari, Laelapidae) infesting Apis mellifera in China. Apidologie, 42(4):485-498. http://www.springerlink.com/content/xp8511w151449300/

Maung Maung Nyein; Zmarlicki C, 1982. Control of mites in European bees in Burma. American Bee Journal, 122(9):638-639.

OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health), 2013. Manual of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals. Paris, France: World Organisation for Animal Health. http://www.oie.int/en/international-standard-setting/terrestrial-manual/access-online/

OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health), 2013. Terrestrial Animal Health Code, edition 22. Paris, France: Office International des Epizooties. http://www.oie.int/international-standard-setting/terrestrial-code/access-online/

Owen IL, 2011. Parasites of animals in Papua New Guinea recorded at the National Veterinary Laboratory: a catalogue, historical review and zoogeographical affiliations. Zootaxa, 3143:1-163. http://www.mapress.com/zootaxa/2011/f/z03143p163f.pdf

Padhi J; Rath LK, 2012. Seasonal incidence of ectoparasitic mite Tropilaelaps clareae Delfiando and Baker and effect of their varied infestation levels on brood and adult bees of Apis mellifera L. Journal of Plant Protection and Environment, 9(2):32-35.

Raffique MK; Rashid Mahmood; Muhammad Aslam; Ghulam Sarwar, 2012. Control of Tropilaelaps clareae mite by using formic acid and thymol in honey bee Apis mellifera L. colonies. Pakistan Journal of Zoology, 44(4):1129-1135. http://zsp.com.pk/pdf44/1129-1135%20_33_%20PJZ-914-12%20Control%20of%20Tropilaelaps%20clareae%20Mite%20by%20Using%20Formic%20Acid%20and%20Thymol%20in%20Honey%20Bee%20Apis%20mellifera%20L.pdf

Rashid Mahmood; Wagchoure ES; Shazia Raja; Ghulam Sarwar; Muhammad Aslam, 2011. Effect of thymol and formic acid against ectoparasitic brood mite Tropilaelaps clareae in Apis mellifera colonies. Pakistan Journal of Zoology, 43(1):91-95.

Schmid-Hempel P, 1998. Parasites in social insects. Princeton, USA: Princeton University Press, xi + 409 pp.

Schotman CYL, 1989. Plant pests of quarantine importance to the Caribbean. RLAC-PROVEG, No. 21:80 pp.

Sharma SD; Kashyap NP; Desh Raj, 2003. Efficacy of some acaricides against ectoparasitic mite Tropilaelaps clareae infesting European honey bee Apis mellifera. Indian Journal of Agricultural Research, 37(1):60-63.

Vongpakorn M; Neramitmansook W, 2003. A survey of parasitic diseases in honey bee in Thailand. Journal of the Thai Veterinary Medical Association, 54(3):19-27.

Wilkins S; Brown MA; Cuthbertson AGS, 2007. The incidence of honey bee pests and diseases in England and Wales. Pest Management Science, 63:1062-1068.

Woo KS; Lee JH, 1997. Current status of honey bee mites in Korea. Honeybee Science, 18(4):175-177.

Yu YuSheng; Zhang ZuYun; Lu HuanXian; Zhao HongMu; Zhang XueWen, 2011. Control effect of sublimed sulfur paired with acaricide on bee mites. Agricultural Science & Technology - Hunan, 12(2):241-243. http://www.hnagri.com

Organizations

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World: IBRA, International Bee Research Association, Unit 6, Centre Court, Main Avenue, Treforest, RCT, CF37 5YR, UK, www.ibra.org.uk

World: OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health), 12, rue de Prony, 75017 Paris, France, http://www.oie.int/

UK: British Beekeepers’ Association, National Beekeeping Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, CV8 2LG, UK, www.britishbeekeepers.com

Contributors

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23/03/2012: Original text by:

Dr Claire Beverley, CABI, Nosworthy Way, Wallingford, OX10 8DE.

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