Toxicological Analysis of Acaricides for Varroa Mite Management

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Virginia Tech

The varroa mite is a primary driver behind periodical losses of honey bee colonies. The mite requires bees for food and reproduction and, in turn, elicits physiological deficiencies and diseases that compromise bee colony health. The mite nervous system is a target site for existing acaricides. These acaricides not only have adverse health effects on bees, but resistance limits their use to reduce mites and diseases in bee colonies. Voltage-gated chloride channels are involved in the maintenance of nerve and muscle excitability in arthropod pests, which suggests that these channels might be exploited as targets for acaricides. Apistan® (the pyrethroid tau-fluvalinate), Checkmite+® (the organophosphate coumaphos), and Apivar® (the formamidine amitraz) are control products for mite management. The effectiveness of these chemistries has diminished as a result of the increasing incidence resistance in mite populations. I report a toxicological analysis of stilbene products against acaricide-susceptible and -resistant mites. My results find a significant increase in metabolic detoxification enzyme activities in acaricide-resistant mites compared to susceptible mites. Acetylcholinesterase of coumaphos-resistant mites was significantly less sensitive to the toxic coumaphos metabolite compared to susceptible mites, which suggests target-site insensitivity as a mechanism of acaricide resistance. The stilbene product DIDS had significantly higher field efficacy to acaricide-resistant mites compared to Apistan®- and CheckMite+®. These data suggest that DIDS, and other stilbene products, might serve as candidate chemistries to continue field efficacy testing of alternative acaricides for Apistan® and CheckMite+® resistant mites.

Honey bee pest, varroa mite management, resistance-breaking chemistries