Free access
Volume 35, Number 4, July-August 2004
Page(s) 351 - 357
Apidologie 35 (2004) 351-357
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2004024

Patterns of parasitism by tracheal mites (Locustacarus buchneri) in natural bumble bee populations

Michael Christopher Otterstattera and Troy Lorne Whiddenb

a  Department of Zoology, University of Toronto, 25 Harbord St., Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 3G5
b  Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, T2N 1N4

(Received 1st August 2003; revised 22 August 2003; accepted 4 September 2003)

Abstract - Parasitic mites are among the most destructive enemies of social bees. However, aside from mites of honey bees, virtually nothing is known about the prevalence and effects of parasitic mites in natural bee populations. In this paper, we report on parasitism of bumble bees (Bombus spp.) by the tracheal mite Locustacarus buchneri Stammer in south-western Alberta, Canada. Parasitism of bumble bees by L. buchneri occurred at many sites and in several host species. However, L. buchneri appears to be relatively host-species specific as it was found primarily in bumble bee species belonging to the subgenus Bombus sensu stricto. Furthermore, bumble bees containing tracheal mites had significantly reduced lifespans in the laboratory. Implications of parasitism on bumble bee life history are discussed.

Key words: Bombus / Locustacarus buchneri / parasitism / Podapolipidae / Psithyrus

Corresponding author: Michael Christopher Otterstatter

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2004