Experimental & Applied Acarology

, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 259–273 | Cite as

Food and water resources used by the Madagascan hissing-cockroach mite, Gromphadorholaelaps schaeferi

  • J. A. Yoder
  • J. C. BarcelonaJr.


We determined the food source and water balance properties of the hissing-cockroach mite, Gromphadorholaelaps schaeferi. The food source for mites was identified using Evans blue dye by direct injection into a fasting host cockroach, Gromphadorhina portentosa, or by incorporation into cockroach food. No coloration was observed in mites on dye-injected cockroaches, but coloration was present in mites when only the food for the cockroaches had been stained. Thus, the mites are scavengers of cockroach food, and are not parasitic as previously thought. Our results demonstrate that the mites can absorb water from the air anywhere between 0.84 and 0.93 a v (%RH/100), and wax-block experiments revealed that the mouth is the site of uptake. The mites are normally clumped together on the host, typically in between the cockroach's legs and around the spiracles. Water loss rates for mites in groups (0.16% h-1) were far lower than for isolated mites (0.30% h-1), suggesting a ‘group effect’ with regard to water balance. Above the transition temperature of 30°C rate of water loss was rapid. The sites occupied by mites on the cockroach's body seem to be highly specific for feeding and absorption of water vapour.

Key words

Food source water resources cockroach 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arlian, L.G. 1975. Water exchange and effect of water vapour activity on metabolic rate in the house dust mite, Dermatophagoides. J. Insect Physiol. 21: 1439–1442.Google Scholar
  2. Arlian, L.G. and Ekstrand, I.A. 1975. Water balance in Drosophila pseudoobscura, and its ecological implications. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 68: 827–832.Google Scholar
  3. Arlian, L.G. and Veselica, M.M. 1979. Water balance in insects and mites. Comp. Biochem. Phys., 64: 191–200.Google Scholar
  4. Bruce, W.A. and Needham, G.R. 1994. Effects of temperature and humidity on the water balance of Varroa jacobsoni (Acari: Varroidae). In Acarology IX: proceedings, G.R. Needham, D.J. Horn and R. Mitchell (eds.). Ohio Biological Survey, Columbus, in press.Google Scholar
  5. Denlinger, D.L. 1994. The beetle tree. Am. Entomol. 40: 168–171.Google Scholar
  6. Grassé, P.P. and Chauvin, R. 1944. L'effet de groupe et la survie des neutres dans les sociétés d'insects. Rev. Sci. 82: 461–464.Google Scholar
  7. Hadley, N.F. 1994. Water Relations of Terrestrial Arthropods. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  8. Hair, J.A., Sauer, J.R., and Durham, K.A. 1975. Water balance and humidity preference in three species of ticks. J. Med. Entomol. 12: 37–46.Google Scholar
  9. Johnson, C.G. 1940. The maintenance of high atmospheric humidities for entomological work with glycerol-water mixtures. Ann. Appl. Biol. 27: 295–299.Google Scholar
  10. Knülle, W. 1962. Die Abhängigkeit der Luftfeuchtreaktionen der Mehlmilbe (Acarus siro) vom Wassergehalt des Körpers. Z. Vergl. Physiol. 45: 233–246.Google Scholar
  11. Knülle, W. and Rudolph, D. 1982. Humidity relationships and water balance in ticks. In Physiology of ticks, F.D. Obenchain and R. Galun (eds.), pp. 43–70. Pergamon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  12. Lees, A.D. 1947. Transpiration and the structure of the epicuticle in ticks. J. Exp. Biol. 23: 379–410.Google Scholar
  13. Machin, J. and Lampert, G.J. 1989. Energetics of water diffusion through the cuticular water barrier of Periplaneta: the effect of temperature, revisited. J. Insect Phys. 5: 437–445.Google Scholar
  14. Needham, G.R. and Teel, P.D. 1991. Off-host physiological ecology of Ixodid ticks. Ann. Rev. Entomol. 41: 232–237.Google Scholar
  15. Noble-Nesbitt, J. 1970. Water uptake from subsaturated atmospheres: its site in insects. Nature 225: 753–755.Google Scholar
  16. O'Donnell, M.J. and Machin, J. 1988. Water vapour absorption by terrestrial organisms. Adv. Comp. Environ. Phys. 2: 47–90.Google Scholar
  17. Roth, L.M. and Willis, E.R. 1960. The biotic associations of cockroaches. Smithsonian Misc. Collect. 141: 1–470.Google Scholar
  18. Schaefer, C.W. and Peckham, D.B. 1968. Host preference studies on a mite infesting the cockroach Gromphadorhina portentosa. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 61: 1475–1478.Google Scholar
  19. Schmidt, G.D. and Roberts, L.S. 1981. Foundations of Parasitology. C. V. Mosby, St Louis.Google Scholar
  20. Schmidt-Nielsen, K. 1984. Scaling: Why is Animal Size so Important? Cambridge University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  21. Seethaler, H.W., Hnülle, W. and Devine, T.L. 1979. Water vapour intake and body water (3HOH) clearance in the housemite (Glycyphagus domesticus). Acarologia 21: 440–450.Google Scholar
  22. Sigal, M.D. and Arlian, L.G. 1982. Water balance of the social insect Formica exsectoides (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and its ecological implications. Phys. Zool. 55: 355–366.Google Scholar
  23. Sigal, M.D., Machin, J. and Needham, G.R. 1991. Hyperosmotic oral fluid secretion during active water vapour absorption and during desiccation-induced storage-excretion by the unfed tick Amblyomma americanum. J. Exp. Biol. 157: 585–591.Google Scholar
  24. Sokal, R.R. and Rohlf, F.J. 1981. Biometry. W.H. Freeman, New York.Google Scholar
  25. Till, W.M. 1969. A new laelapine mite from the Madagascar hissing-cockroach, Gromphadorhina portentosa (Schaum). Acarologia 11: 515–523.Google Scholar
  26. Toolson, E.C. 1978. Diffusion of water through the arthropod cuticle: thermodynamic consideration of the transition phenomenon. J. Therm. Biol. 3: 69–73.Google Scholar
  27. Wharton, G.W. 1985. Water balance of insects. In Comprehensive insect physiology, biochemistry and pharmacology, Vol. 4, G.A. Kerkut and L.I. Gilbert (eds.), pp. 565–603. Pergamon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  28. Wharton, G.W. and Kanungo, K. 1962. Some effects of temperature and relative humidity on water balance in females of the spiny rat mite, Echinolaelaps echidninus (Acarina: Laelaptidea). Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 55: 483–492.Google Scholar
  29. Winston, P.W. and Bates, D.S. 1960. Saturated solutions for the control of humidity in biological research. Ecology 41: 232–237.Google Scholar
  30. Yoder, J.A. and Denlinger, D.L. 1992. Water balance in flesh fly pupae and water vapour absorption associated with diapause. J. Exp. Biol. 157: 273–286.Google Scholar
  31. Yoder, J.A. and Spielman, A. 1993. Differential capacity of larval deer ticks (Ixodes dammini) to imbibe water from subsaturated air. J. Insect Phys. 38: 863–869.Google Scholar
  32. Yoder, J.A., Denlinger, D.L. and Wolda, H. 1992a. Aggregation promotes water conservation during diapause in the tropical fungus beetle, Stenotarsus rotundus. Entomol. Exp. Appl. 63: 203–205.Google Scholar
  33. Yoder, J.A., Dennis, M.W., Denlinger, D.L. and Kolattukudy, P.E. 1992b. Enhancement of diapausing flesh fly puparia with additional hydrocarbons and evidence for alkane biosynthesis by a decarbonylation mechanism. Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol. 22: 237–243.Google Scholar
  34. Yoder, J.A., Rivers, D.B. and Denlinger, D.L. 1994. Water relationships in the ectoparasitoid Nasonia vitripennis during larval diapause. Phys. Entomol. 19: 373–378.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Chapman & Hall 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. A. Yoder
    • 1
  • J. C. BarcelonaJr.
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryLouisiana CollegePinevilleUSA
  2. 2.Independent Study Program in BiologyLouisiana CollegePinevilleUSA

Personalised recommendations