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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Ellis, James
item Hepburn, Randall
item Luckman, Barry
item Elzen, Patti

Submitted to: Environmental Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/30/2003
Publication Date: 8/1/2003
Citation: Ellis, J.D., Hepburn, R., Luckman, B., Elzen, P.J. 2003. The effects of soil type, moisture, and density on pupation of aethina tumida murray (coleoptera: nitidulidae). Environmental Entomology.

Interpretive Summary: The small hive beetle is native to sub-Saharan Africa. We found that pupation of larval beetles was significantly greater in moist soils rather than in dry soils. Soil type did not, however, affect the length of time pupae spent developing. Soil type, as effecting successful pupation rates may be a factor in why the beetle is an economic pest in some locations, while only a minor pest in other locations.

Technical Abstract: We tested the effects of six different soil types (soils A-F), two moisture extremes ("wet" and "dry"), and two soil densities ("packed" and "tilled") on the pupation success of Aethina tumida Murray (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae, small hive beetles). We further determined the effect of soil type and A. tumida sex on the time spent pupating. A total of 3000 A. tumida larvae were placed in the moist soil treatments (wet/packed and wet/tilled), of which 2746 eclosed. Additionally, 3000 larvae were placed in the dry soil treatments (dry/packed and dry/tilled), of which none eclosed. In only 1 soil (soil D) were eclosion rates different from those in other soils; eclosion rates in all other soils were similar. For every soil, there were significantly more eclosing A. tumida in the wet treatments than in the dry ones. Eclosion rates of larvae burrowing into moist soils ranged between 92-98%. Female A. tumida pupated faster than male A. tumida but only by an average of less than half a day. Soil type did affect the length of time A. tumida spent pupating despite which, average eclosion occurred within a tight range. The data suggest that biological requirements of A. tumida may limit/exacerbate their reproductive potentials in various soil environments, suggesting additional reasons they are not generally a problem to honey bee (Apis mellifera L., Hymenoptera: Apidae) colonies in their native range but can be in their introduced ones.

Last Modified: 10/16/2017
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