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The chemical ecology of host-parasite interaction as a target of Varroa destructor control agents

Plettner, Erika, Eliash, Nurit, Singh, Nitin K., Pinnelli, Govardhana R., Soroker, Victoria
Apidologie 2017 v.48 no.1 pp. 78-92
Varroa destructor, acaricides, breeding programs, chemical control, chemical ecology, ectoparasites, honey, honey bees, host-parasite relationships, mites, semiochemicals
Honey bees and their ectoparasite Varroa destructor communicate through chemical signals among themselves, but they also eavesdrop on each other’s chemical cues. We summarize semiochemicals of honey bees and Varroa, and their roles in honey bee-Varroa interactions. We also give an overview of current Varroa control methods, which can be classified into three categories: (1) chemical control methods with acaricides, (2) biotechnical intervention, and (3) bee breeding programs. Widely used synthetic chemical acaricides are failing due to the emergence of resistant mites. Therefore, new methods are being sought for Varroa control, and methods that target the semiochemical interactions between bees and mites are among the candidates. We review our discovery of compounds that alter the host choice of Varroa mites (from nurse to forager) in laboratory tests. Any semiochemical-based methods are still in the experimental stage and need validation in the field.