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Pestic Biochem Physiol. 2016 Jul;131:60-79. doi: 10.1016/j.pestbp.2015.12.009. Epub 2015 Dec 31.

Acarine attractants: Chemoreception, bioassay, chemistry and control.

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Department of Entomology, North Carolina State University, Campus Box 7647, Raleigh, NC 27695-7647, USA.
Department of Entomology, North Carolina State University, Campus Box 7647, Raleigh, NC 27695-7647, USA. Electronic address:


The Acari are of significant economic importance in crop production and human and animal health. Acaricides are essential for the control of these pests, but at the same time, the number of available pesticides is limited, especially for applications in animal production. The Acari consist of two major groups, the mites that demonstrate a wide variety of life strategies, i.e., herbivory, predation and ectoparasitism, and ticks which have evolved obligatory hematophagy. The major sites of chemoreception in the acarines are the chelicerae, palps and tarsi on the forelegs. A unifying name, the "foretarsal sensory organ" (FSO), is proposed for the first time in this review for the sensory site on the forelegs of all acarines. The FSO has multiple sensory functions including olfaction, gustation, and heat detection. Preliminary transcriptomic data in ticks suggest that chemoreception in the FSO is achieved by a different mechanism from insects. There are a variety of laboratory and field bioassay methods that have been developed for the identification and characterization of attractants but minimal techniques for electrophysiology studies. Over the past three to four decades, significant progress has been made in the chemistry and analysis of function for acarine attractants in mites and ticks. In mites, attractants include aggregation, immature female, female sex and alarm pheromones; in ticks, the attraction-aggregation-attachment, assembly and sex pheromones; in mites and ticks host kairomones and plant allomones; and in mites, fungal allomones. There are still large gaps in our knowledge of chemical communication in the acarines compared to insects, especially relative to acarine pheromones, and more so for mites than ticks. However, the use of lure-and-kill and lure-enhanced biocontrol strategies has been investigated for tick and mite control, respectively, with significant environmental advantages which warrant further study.


Attractants; Bioassay; Chemical communication; Control; Mites; Ticks

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