Testing new compounds for efficacy against Varroa destructor and safety to honey bees (Apis mellifera)

Pest Manag Sci. 2021 Aug 31. doi: 10.1002/ps.6617. Online ahead of print.


Background: Varroa destructor is among the greatest threats to honey bee health worldwide. Acaricides used to control Varroa are becoming increasingly ineffective due to resistance issues, prompting the need for new compounds that can be used for control purposes. Ideally, such compounds would exhibit high toxicity to Varroa while maintaining relatively low toxicity to bees and beekeepers. We characterized the lethal concentrations (LC50 ) of amitraz, matrine, FlyNap®, the experimental carbamates 2-((2-ethylbutyl)thio)phenyl methylcarbamate (1) and 2-(2-ethylbutoxy)phenyl methylcarbamate (2), and dimethoate (positive control) for Varroa using a glass vial assay. The test compounds also were applied to honey bees using an acute contact toxicity assay to determine the adult bee LD50 for each compound.

Results: Amitraz was the most toxic compound to Varroa, but carbamate 2 was nearly as active (within 2-fold) and the most selective due to its lower bee toxicity, demonstrating its promise as a Varroa control. While carbamate 1 was less toxic to honey bees than was amitraz, it was also 4.7-fold less toxic to the mites. Both matrine and FlyNap® were relatively ineffective at killing Varroa and were moderately toxic to honey bees.

Conclusion: Additional testing is required to determine if carbamate 2 can be used as an effective Varroa control. As new chemical treatments are identified, it will be necessary to determine how they can be utilized best alongside other control techniques as part of an integrated pest management program.

Keywords: Apis mellifera; FlyNap; Varroa destructor; amitraz; carbamate; matrine.