BEIJING, April 12 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese study showed that the greater wax moths, one of the main pests to honeybees, sense but ignore the warning signals honeybees release, providing insight into pest control.
Wax moths are a common problem for beekeepers. The greater wax moth is one of the two species of wax moths, with the other being the lesser wax moth.
They are tan in color and eat the comb in beehives. They lay eggs in the wax and the larvae burrow through the frame of comb as they eat whatever is in their path.
Researchers from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Anhui Agricultural University studied whether female greater wax moths could sense honeybee alarm pheromones to find a safer place or avoid a risky site to lay eggs.
Best known in insects, alarm pheromones are chemical substances that animals produce and release to warn of impending danger.
Published in the journal Insects, the study said that female greater wax moths showed physiological responses to four bee alarm pheromones, even in a low concentration.
However, the behavior of the greater wax moths showed no significant preference or avoidance in orientation and selection of sites to lay eggs.
After the greater wax moths successfully invade the beehive and reproduce in bee combs, they can sense alarm pheromones released by honeybees but ignore them. Honeybees are not able to expel them, losing the arms race, the scientists concluded.
They said the findings offered new perspectives on the chemical signal exchange between greater wax moths and honeybees, laying theoretical foundations for developing new pest control technologies.