Comprehensive Description

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General Description of the Bee Mite Genus Pneumolaelaps

Species of the genus Pneumolaelaps are common inhabitants of nests of bumblebees. They may also occasionally occur in beehives and in subterranean nests of small mammals (Bregetova, 1977; Haitlinger, 1983; Crozier, 1989). The mites may be found in great numbers in active bumblebee colonies, moving rapidly over the nest floor, nectar pots, and brood cells where they feed on nectar and pollen. Female mites become phoretic on bumblebee queens in old nests, and overwinter with the queens in sheltered sites. Feeding behavior is only known for Pneumolaelaps longanalis. This genus is known from the Holarctic, Oriental and Neotropical regions (Eguaras et al. 1997; Evans and Till, 1966; Hunter and Husband, 1973; Karg, 1982, 1984; Rosario, 1981; Royce and Krantz, 1989).
There are, at present, no comprehensive definitions of this genus. Many authors consider it as a subgenus of the genus Hypoaspis (Bregetova, 1977; Evans and Till; 1966; Karg, 1982) while others consider it as a distinct genus (Casanueva, 1993). According to Evans and Till (1966), this taxon has the following apomorphic character states: the stimata are large and peritremes broad, the opistogaster is usually hypetrichous, and there are two ventral setae on genu IV. Karg (1982) defines it based on the following characters: the idiosomal setae filiform, without extreme difference in lengths, unpaired setae frequently present on the posterior part of the dorsal shield; tectum smooth; rows of the hypognathal groove usually with 2 to 6 denticles; the epigynial shield with one pair of setae; 1-2 pairs of setae between the epigynial and anal shields. The latter concept allows the inclusion of free-living species, making the genus, in our opinion, artificial. We accept the point of view of the former authors restricting the genus only to bumblebee-associated species. With the absence of a robust phylogeny of the genusHypoaspis and proofs of the Pneumolaelaps monophyly, this is highly speculative, however.
Qinghailaelaps marmotae, the type species of the genus Qinghailaelaps Gu and Yang, 1984 has been described from Marmota himalayana (Hodgson, 1841) (Rodentia: Sciuridae); another species of this genus, Qinghailaelaps gui Bai, 1992, was found phoretic on a bumblebee (Bombus). Because the genus-level characters of Qinghailaelaps correspond to those of Pneumolaelaps, we consider the former as a junior synonym. The following new combinations are proposed: Pneumolaelaps cavicolous (Gu, Liu et Niu, 1997) from Qinghailaelaps ("cave of bird" in China); Pneumolaelaps gui (Bai, 1992), comb. n. from Qinghailaelaps; Pneumolaelaps marmotae (Gu et Yang, 1984), comb. n. from Qinghailaelaps; Pneumolaelaps qinghaiensis (Li, Yang et Wang, 1998), comb. n. from Qinghailaelaps.

Old World species of Pneumolaelaps associated with bumble bees (Bombus spp.)
Pneumolaelaps bombicolens (Canestrini, 1884) (Poland, former USSR, England, Italy, New Zealand, China)
Pneumolaelaps breviseta (Evans and Till, 1966) (England, New Zealand)
Pneumolaelaps fuscicolens (Oudemans, 1903) (Western Europe, former USSR)
Pneumolaelaps colomboi (Evans & Till 1966) (England, Poland, former USSR)
Pneumolaelaps groenlandicus (Trägårdth, 1904) (Greenland, Russia, Canada)
Pneumolaelaps hyatti (Evans & Till, 1966) (Greenland, England, former USSR, China)
Pneumolaelaps marginepilosus (Sellnick, 1938) (England, Austria, Iceland, Poland, former USSR)
Pneumolaelaps minutissima (Evans and Till, 1966) (England)
Pneumolaelaps qinghaiensis (Li, Yang et Wang, 1998), comb. nov. from Qinghailaelaps (China, ex Bombus)


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Source: Bee-Associated Mites of the World

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