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Varroa destructor (Mesostigmata: Varroidae) electrophysiological activity towards common yarrow (Asteraceae) essential oil and its components

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 November 2020

Michael Light
Department of Biology, Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, B4P 2R6, Canada
Nicoletta Faraone
Department of Chemistry, Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, B4P 2R6, Canada
Dave Shutler
Department of Biology, Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, B4P 2R6, Canada
G. Christopher Cutler
Department of Plant, Food, and Environmental Sciences, Dalhousie University, Truro, Nova Scotia, B2N 5E3, Canada
N. Kirk Hillier
Department of Biology, Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, B4P 2R6, Canada


Essential oils produced by plants are a rich source of metabolites that can have toxic or behaviour-modifying effects on arthropods. Some essential oils have shown promise in management of the mite Varroa destructor Anderson and Trueman (Mesostigmata: Varroidae), a parasite of western honey bees, Apis mellifera Linnaeus (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Essential oil and its components from common yarrow, Achillea millefolium Linnaeus (Asteraceae), are reported to have both insecticidal and repellent properties for other arthropod pests and may have activity against V. destructor. Here, we evaluate responses of V. destructor towards common yarrow essential oil using gas chromatography paired with electrotarsal detection. We identified 38 essential oil components that elicited electrophysiological responses from V. destructor. Components of common yarrow essential oil identified as electrophysiologically active in this study are reported elsewhere as active components of other management strategies for V. destructor infestations (e.g., thyme oil; Thymus sp. (Lamiaceae)). Pending behavioural assessment, the efficacy of common yarrow essential oil in honey bee colonies infested by V. destructor should be explored in field conditions.

Research Papers
© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Entomological Society of Canada

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Present address: Department of Forestry, University of Toronto, Daniels Faculty of Architecture and Design, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3B3, Canada

Subject editor: Maya Evenden


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