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Asian bee mites

Scientific Name
Tropilaelaps mercedesae
Scientific Author
Anderson and Morgan, 2007
(Arachnida: Acari: Dermanyssoidea: Laelapidae)
Exotic species - absent from Australia

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Diagnostic Notes

Mites in the genus Tropilaelaps (Acari: Laelapidae) are ectoparasites of the brood of honeybees (Apis spp.).

Tropilaelaps mites can easily be recognised and separated from the Varroa mite. The body of the Varroa mite is wider than it is long and it moves slowly, whereas the body of Tropilaelaps is
elongated, with a heavily sclerotised holoventral or similar shield and it is a fast-running mite.

Different Tropilaelaps subspecies were originally described from Apis dorsata, but a host switch occurred to the Western honey bee, Apis mellifera, for which infestations can rapidly lead to colony death. Tropilaelaps is now considered more dangerous to A. mellifera than the parasitic mite Varroa destructor.

The Asian mites, known as Tropilaelaps, are also potentially serious new threats to beekeeping. The mites have spread from their original host, the giant honey bee, Apis dorsata, to the European honey bee, A. mellifera. There are four species documented in the literature with only two (Tropilaelaps clareae and Tropilaleaps mercedesae), currently considered harmful for Apis mellifera.


Small (< 1mm long), elongated, light brown, fast moving and hold their first pair of legs upright resembling antennae.

There are 4 currently known species can be morphologically and biogeographically separated as such:

   Average length x width of dorsal shield

                Length               Width

T. mercedesae -

Female:     0.978mm            0.542mm
Male:         0.920mm            0.523mm

T. clareae -

Female:      0.881mm           0.485mm
Male:          0.856mm           0.501mm

T. thaii -

Female:      0.890mm           0.491mm
Male:         male unknown

T. koenigerum -

Female:       0.693mm          0.427mm
Male:           0.575mm          0.384mm

   Female Epigynial plate shape

T. mercedesae - Bluntly pointed to sharply pointed apex; parallel to flanged sided
T. clareae - Bluntly pointed apex, almost parallel sided
T. thaii - Bluntly pointed apex, slightly bell shaped sided
T. koenigerum - Rounded apex, pear shaped sided

   Female chelicerae shape

T. mercedesae - Subapical tooth present
T. clareae - Subapical tooth present
T. thaii - Lacks subapical tooth
T. koenigerum - Subapical tooth present

   Male chela spermo dactyl shape

T. mercedesae - Long and attenuate with distal spirally coiled apex
T. clareae - Long and attenuate with distal spirally coiled apex
T. thaii - Male unknown
T. koenigerum - Short and with pig-tailed-like end loop

   Known hosts

T. mercedesaeApis dorsata dorsata; A. mellifera; A. laboriosa (?); A. cerana
T. clareae - A. dorsata breviligula; A. d. binghami; A. mellifera
T. thaii - A. laboriosa
T. koenigerum - A. dorsata dorsata; A. laboriosa (?)

   Known localities

T. mercedesae - Mainland Asia and Indonesia except Sulawesi; mountains near Himalayas; New Guinea
T. clareae - Philippines and Sulawesi (except Palawan Island), Luzon Island
T. thaii - Only known to date from Vietnam
T. koenigerum - Sri Lanka, Mainland Asia and Indonesia except Sulawesi

The genus is distinguished by the shape of the epigyinal and anal plates, chelicerae, size and differences in gene sequences of the adult female.


Genetic and morphological variation of bee-parasitic Tropilaelaps mites (Acari: Laelapidae) and new and redined species.

Anderson, D.L. & M. J. Morgan

Exp Appl Acarol. 2007 43: 1-24

See weblink:

Key to the mite genera of the Family Laelapidae

More Information
Specimen Contact
CSIRO - ANIC Canberra
Ken Walker & Graham Brown
26/11/2008 11:41 AEST
Last Updated
01/06/2009 15:08 AEST
Ken Walker & Graham Brown (2008) Asian bee mites (Tropilaelaps mercedesae) Updated on 6/1/2009 3:08:51 PM Available online: PaDIL -
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