Biology of the Bee Mite Genus Sancassania (Ctenocolletacarus)
All stages of mites complete breeding cycle occurs in the hosts' sealed brood cells, except for the phoretic deutonymphs, which can leave the cells and disperse on their bee hosts. The deutonymphs are usually phoretic in specialized circular metasomal pouches on the lateral margins of metasomal terga 3 and 4 (acarinaria). Phoretic deutonymphs are found on 70-90% of four species of female bees. The mites and their hosts are univoltine. One or a few deutonymphs dismount from nesting females into each new blood cell and rapidly transform through non-mobile tritonymphs to males and females. Female mites oviposit on the ceiling of the cell during the host larva's early instars, producing hundreds of larvae and then protonymphs by the time the host larva has completed feeding. Large numbers of mites (nearly 300) develop in each host cell, with no obvious deleterious effects on the developing bee. Larvae and protonymphs aggregate on the host bee larva, possibly to avoid being ingested, and perhaps feeding only on pollen adhering to the lateral surfaces and mouthparts of the bee larva, probably this feeding activity helps the developing bee to keep its integument clean and pathogen free. The mites also convert the pasty feces to a firmer, drier state, which makes it less prone to fungal growth. Non-deutonymphal stages feed upon pollen, host larval feces, and an amorphous substance that may originate from the bee larva's surface or from its feces (after Houston, 1987).
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