Zach Huang’s research gives new insight into the destructive Varroa mite

MSU researcher Zachary Huang is working hard to gain insight into the reproductive secrets of one of the world’s tiniest and most destructive parasites – the Varroa mite.

June 24, 2016

MSU researcher Zachary Huang is working hard to gain insight into the reproductive secrets of one of the world’s tiniest and most destructive parasites – the Varroa mite.

“If you know your enemies better, you can come up with new ways of controlling them,” said Huang, whose research explores the fertility of the notorious mite, a pest that is devastating honey bee populations worldwide. The mite sucks the blood of honeybees and transmits deadly viruses.

The Varroa mite’s lifecycle consists of two phases: one where they feed on adult bees, called the phoretic phase, and a reproductive phase that takes place within a sealed honeycomb cell, where the mites lay eggs on a developing bee larva.

The MSU-led study, published in the current issue of Scientific Reports, shows that the mites clearly prefer to infest adult bees at mid-age, or during the nurse phase of a bee’s lifecycle when they take care of larvae, rather than during the younger (newly-emerged) or older (forager) phases of an adult bee. The study also found that the physiological type of a host bee had significant effects on the mite’s reproductive fitness and success later on.

“Our study clearly demonstrated that Varroa mites preferred nurses over the older and younger bees,” said Huang, the study’s lead author. “Further, we showed that feeding on different hosts gave them different reproductive outputs.”

To read more about the Varroa mite and Huang’s research, read the MSU Today story: Bee Vampire Picks the Right Host to Suck.

Michigan State University Michigan State University Close Menu button Menu and Search button Open Close