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Varroa Mite Parasite Kills Honeybees by Mimicking Their Smell • Mirror Daily

The Varroa Mite parasite is responsible for a 42 percent bee mortality rate.

White House officials have declared themselves worried as the Varroa Mite parasite kills honeybees by mimicking their smell. A new study claims the Varroa Mite parasite is responsible for almost 42% deceased honeybees determining authorities to take measures for the protection of the honey-producing insects.

The honeybee population in America is now threatened by a powerful parasite, based on the findings of a recent research conducted by the Michigan State University. According to the experts who have carried out the experiment, a new parasite, named Varroa Mite, has the ability to infiltrate itself among bee swarms and silently kill them.

Science professors at the University of Michigan have carefully analyzed the behavior of the said parasite and were thus, able to identify the strategy that the insects use to smoothly kill bees and other insects. Based on the data presented in the journal of Biologic Letters, the honeybee ectoparasite is capable of changing its cuticular hydrocarbons and reproduce certain specific traits of their victims.

Honey bees are incredibly sensitive to smell. They rely on this particular sense to find flowers and to engage in the pollination process of the respective plant. Smell is also frequently used by honey bees in order to distinguish themselves from the rest of the insects.

The Varroa Mite parasite has found the soft spot of the bees and is using it to destroy bee swarms. Around 42 percent of the U.S. bee population has been killed since the beginning of the year, as scientists were not able to effectively fight against the parasite.

Scientists have used parasites collected from populations of European bees and transplanted them among Asian bees in order to observe the modification process. They have noticed that the Varroa Mites began changing their cuticular hydrcarbons as soon as they were inserted in the new group.

More specifically, the European microorganisms began mimicking the smell of the Asian honey bees to successfully mingle themselves within their group. The group of pollinating insects has been fooled into thinking that the invaders were legitimate members of their ‘society’. Once infiltrated, the parasites began killing bees from inside their group.

The mimicking behavior of the Varroa destructors is all the more alarming for scientists as these microorganisms also develop physical resemblances with their victims. Researchers did not manage to find effective solutions to prevent the parasite from spreading.

Future studies and experiments will most likely focus on the natural and artificial ways experts may use to stop Varroa mites from multiplying. They will most likely rely on the techniques that have been used during past pest threats.

The Asian bee populations have been the most affected by the deceiving parasites. During the 1940s and the 1950s, the killing bugs were also found among the European populations of honey bees. The parasite was first identified in the U.S. in 1987, but their presence is now more threatening as many honey bees die each year as a result of the Varroa Mite attacks.

The White House has become directly involved in the fight against the killing microorganisms. The new national strategy that officials proposed in the month of May aims to reduce honey bee mortality to 15 percent.
Image Source: Lazy BFarm

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