Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Publications » Publications at this Location

Research Project: Insect, Nematode, and Plant Semiochemical Communication Systems

Location: Chemistry Research

Title: Small Hive Beetle (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) attraction to a blend of fruit volatiles.

Author
item Stuhl, Charles

Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/6/2021
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The Western honey bee plays a crucial role for pollination of agricultural crops in the United States and is responsible for pollinating approximately one third of US agriculture. Pollinators are critical to food security, environmental health, and the economy by contributing more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops annually, as well as providing a foundation to ensure our diets are plentiful with fruits, nuts, and vegetables. The honey bee population has been in decline over the past decade, this is due in part to a major pest of the honey bee, the small hive beetle, Aethina tumida (Coleoptera: Nititulidae), which has a major impact on pollinator health in North America. Adult small hive beetles and larvae cause destruction by consuming honey bee eggs, brood, pollen and honey. Beetles can live for many months and lay an abundance of eggs in their lifetime. Odors collected from overripe fruit provide for an effective attractant for both sexes of the small hive beetle. USDA-ARS scientists at the Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, FL performed trapping studies using ripe fruit and a fruit-based attractant containing ethanol, ethyl butyrate, acetic acid, ethyl acetate and acetaldehyde. Results indicated that the synthetic fruit blend captured at the same rate as the cut fruit, which is important for an effective trapping system as a good attractant. The isolated fruit volatiles show promise as an effective attractant for control and monitoring of small hive beetle, and protection of honey bees.

Technical Abstract: Small hive beetle Aethina tumida (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) belongs to a family of beetles know as sap beetles. As an agricultural pest they feed upon damaged, overripe fruit and vegetables, such as strawberries, corn, melons, tomatoes and raspberries. The small hive beetle is a major parasite of honey bee hives worldwide. The beetle lives in the honey bee hive and feeds on honey, pollen and honey bee brood. Fruit volatiles collected from overripe fruit provide for an effective attractant for both sexes of the small hive beetle. A laboratory trapping assay was performed using ripe fruit and a fruit-based attractant containing ethanol, ethyl butyrate, acetic acid, ethyl acetate, and acetaldehyde. Results indicated that the synthetic fruit blend captured at the same rate as the cut fruit. The blend with the highest concentration had significantly more beetles captured (F=32.95, df=2, p<0.0001). The key to an effective tapping system is a good attractant. The isolated fruit volatiles show promise as an effective attractant for control and monitoring of small hive beetle, and protection of honey bees.