Location: Chemistry Research Unit
Title: Semiochemical based attraction of Small Hive Beetle: a window into evolution and invasive biology Authors
Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 2, 2012
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Insect behavioral preferences are tied to individual experience and evolutionary history. The Small hive beetle, Aethina tumida, is seemingly an anomaly among Nitidulids because members of the genus commonly feed on fruit and decaying material in association with fungi but the small hive beetle thrives in honey bee hives feeding on pollen and bee brood. However, we observed small hive beetle attraction to. fruits in the field and compared this attraction with previous laboratory studies establishing attraction to chemical cues from bee hives and a symbiotic yeast fermenting pollen. Bioassays established that ripe fruits: Kei apples, cantaloupe and pears, were all more attractive than fermenting pollen dough, the attractant for small hive beetle attraction identified from honey bee colonies. The fruit produced compounds and ratios responsible for attraction of the beetle had many similarities and some differences to bee hive odors, associated with attraction. In Africa, fruit hosts are only seasonally available, while bee hives offer a more continuous and nutrient rich habitat particularly in seasonal times of drought when fruit are not available. The commonality among attractive volatiles between hosts, along with reproductive success on fruit indicate that the attractive preferences of the small hive beetle do indeed represent an evolutionary link in a poorly resolved clade. These overlapping preferences show a fruit feeding ancestry, but the beetle's physical and behavioral derived characteristics indicate how it has branched into a new habitat niche.