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New Zealand Plant Protection 65 (2012): 290

Rearing of chelifers for potential biocontrol of varroa mites

S. Read, B.G. Howlett, B.J. Donovan, W.R. Nelson, R.F. van Toor and G. Leung


Honeybee colonies infested with the varroa mite (Varroa destructor) usually collapse unless they have been treated with acaracides. Resistance to the most commonly used acaracides is increasing and no biological control options are yet available. Chelifers (pseudoscorpions) are generalist predators and may have potential as a biological control agent. This poster describes an attempt to establish breeding populations of native chelifers, which have been shown to actively feed on varroa, with the ultimate aim of testing their ability as a biological control of varroa. Two species of chelifers (Nesochernes gracilis and Heterochernes novaezealandiae) collected from honeybee hives and in leaf litter near apiaries at Katikati (Bay of Plenty) are being maintained in the laboratory. They are surviving on a variety of different food sources such as Drosophila sp. larvae (fruit fly), aphids (Acyrthosiphon pisum) and moth larvae (Helicoverpa armigera, Spodoptera litura and Plodia interpunctella). With little known about raising these chelifers in captivity, their diet preferences and feeding periods are being obtained as a first step to obtaining the basic information necessary for potential commercial propagation of chelifers for varroa control in honeybee hives.

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