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A new species of jewel beetle (Coleoptera, Buprestidae, Agrilus) triggers the production of the Brazilian red propolis


Red propolis is a substance produced by bees by mixing resins from plants with wax, oils, and other secretions to protect the hive against natural enemies. Dalbergia ecastaphyllum (L.) Taub. (Fabaceae) is the primary botanical source of the Brazilian red propolis, where bees Apis mellifera L. collect a reddish resin from the stems to produce propolis. This species occurs in coastal dune and mangrove ecosystems, where local beekeepers install their beehives for propolis production. The induction of propolis production was virtually unknown. Previous reports and field evidence suggested that the reddish resin available in D. ecastaphyllum stems was not produced spontaneously but induced by the presence of a parasitic insect that feeds on the plant’s stems. Research in the apiaries of the beekeepers’ association of Canavieiras, Bahia, Brazil, led to the capture of a jewel beetle of an unknown species of the genus Agrilus Curtis (Buprestidae). It was confirmed that this jewel beetle is a red propolis production inductor. The adult and immature of this new species, Agrilus propolis Migliore, Curletti, and Casari sp. nov. are here described and illustrated. Behavioral information on the biology and chemical ecology confirms that the reddish resin of D. ecastaphyllum is directly related to the beetle attack and only occurs when Agrilus propolis sp. nov. adults emerge from the plant stem. This information is very important for Brazilian propolis producers interested in expanding red propolis production, which can have favorable effects on the economy of mangrove communities, promoting income generation, creating new business opportunities, and helping to sustain local communities and families.

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To Prof. Dr. Milton Groppo (FFCLRP-USP) for the identification of Dalbergia ecastaphyllum (L.) Taub. Thanks to the two anonymous reviewers for comments and suggestions on the manuscript, and to Alaina Eckert for proofreading.


This research was funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP, grants #2017/04138-8, #2017/26252-7 and #2018/13700-4 to JKB, GVCC, and JJAM), Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES 88882.378128/2019-01 to LJM), the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), and University of São Paulo Support Foundation (FUSP 3587 - ITV/MZ to GB).

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Correspondence to Letizia J. Migliore or Gari V. Ccana-Ccapatinta.

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Migliore, L.J., Ccana-Ccapatinta, G.V., Curletti, G. et al. A new species of jewel beetle (Coleoptera, Buprestidae, Agrilus) triggers the production of the Brazilian red propolis. Sci Nat 109, 18 (2022).

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  • Bee
  • Beetle
  • Description
  • Ecological relationships
  • Larva
  • Parasitism