Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Journal of Insect Physiology




103950 (8 pg.)


Feeding behaviors and biomechanics of female Varroa destructor mites are revealed from AC-DC electropenetrography (EPG) recordings of mites feeding from Apis mellifera honey bee pupae and histology of mite internal ingestion apparatus. EPG signals characteristic of arthropod suction feeding (ingestion) were identified for mites that fed on pupae during overnight recordings. Ingestion by these mites was confirmed afterwards by observing internally fluorescent microbeads previously injected into their hosts. Micrographs of internal ingestion apparatus illustrate the connection between a gnathosomal tube and a pharyngeal lumen, which is surrounded by alternating dilator and constrictor muscles. Inspection of EPG signals showed the muscularized mite pharyngeal pump operates at a mean repetition rate of 4.5 cycles/s to ingest host fluids. Separate feeding events observed for mites numbered between 23 and 33 over approximately 16 h of recording, with each event lasting ~10 s. Feeding events were each separated by ~2 min. Consecutive feeding events separated by either locomotion or prolonged periods of quiescence were grouped into feeding bouts, which ranged in number from one to six. Statistical analyses of EPG data revealed that feeding events were prolonged for mites having lower pharyngeal pump frequencies, and mites having prolonged feeding events went unfed for significantly more time between feeding events. These results suggest that mites may adjust behaviors to meet limitations of their feeding apparatus to acquire similar amounts of food. Data reported here help to provide a more robust view of Varroa mite feeding than those previously reported and are both reminiscent of, as well as distinct from, some other acarines and fluid-feeding insects.


© 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license.

Original Publication Citation

Li, A. Y., Cook, S. C., Sonenshine, D. E., Posada-Florez, F., Noble, N. I. I., Mowery, J., . . . Bauchan, G. R. (2019). Insights into the feeding behaviors and biomechanics of Varroa destructor mites on honey bee pupae using electropenetrography and histology. Journal of Insect Physiology, 119, 103950. doi:10.1016/j.jinsphys.2019.103950


0000-0001-9370-918X (Sonenshine)