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Environment & Climate Change

Scientists find holes in armor of major honey bee pest

Varroa mites attached to honey bees.
Zachary Huang
/
MSU
Varroa mites attached to honey bees.

Varroa mites are considered the worst pest of honey bees worldwide. The mites suck blood from the bees and transmit viruses to them.

Researchers have identified six genes in the mites that could be used to attack them.

Zachary Huang is an associate professor of entomology at Michigan State University.

“We found four genes that would reduce their reproduction and two genes that would kill them pretty fast, so those would be used for their control later, perhaps,” he says.

Varroa mites (Varroa destructor) on a drone pupa that was removed from its cell.
Credit Zachary Huang / MSU
Varroa mites (Varroa destructor) on a drone pupa that was removed from its cell.

He says right now, pesticides are the main way to control mites, but the mites have developed resistance to some pesticides. So he says attacking the genes of varroa mites could be another tool to help honey bees.

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