Aethina tumida Murray (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) is an invasive parasite species in populations of honey bees, Apis mellifera L. Aiming toward substitution of chemical control, we here identified a naturally occurring fungal pathogen of adult A. tumida from its endemic range in South Africa [Metarhizium anisopliae (Metschnikoff) Sorokin variety anisopliae strain FI-203]. The susceptibility of adult beetles (n = 400) to this fungus and to three other generalist entomopathogenic fungal isolates [Metarhizium anisopliae, Beauveria bassiana (Balsamo) Vuillemin, and Hirsutella illustris Minter & Brady] was assessed using spore suspension bioassays. The data revealed significantly increased mortality in the B. bassiana (74.00 ± 8.94%) and M. anisopliae variety anisopliae (28.00 ± 16.43%) tests but not in the H. illustris (2.00 ± 4.47%) and M. anisopliae (12.00 ± 8.37%) groups. The results indicate a potential for entomopathogenic fungi as an alternative control of A. tumida.
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Vol. 99 • No. 1