The Varroa destructor parasite is the main obstacle to the survival of honey bee colonies. Pest control mainly involves the use of synthetic drugs which, used with the right criteria and in rotation, are able to ensure that infestation levels are kept below the damage threshold. Although these drugs are easy to use and quick to apply, they have numerous disadvantages. Their prolonged use has led to the emergence of pharmacological resistance in treated parasite populations; furthermore, the active ingredients and/or their metabolites accumulate in the beehive products with the possibility of risk for the end consumer. Moreover, the possibility of subacute and chronic toxicity phenomena for adult honeybees and their larval forms must be considered. In this scenario, eco-friendly products derived from plant species have aroused great interest over the years. In recent decades, several studies have been carried out on the acaricidal efficacy of plant essential oils (EOs). Despite the swarming of laboratory and field studies, however, few EO products have come onto the market. Laboratory studies have often yielded different results even for the same plant species. The reason for this discrepancy lies in the various study techniques employed as well as in the variability of the chemical compositions of plants. The purpose of this review is to take stock of the research on the use of EOs to control the V. destructor parasite. It begins with an extensive discussion of the characteristics, properties, and mechanisms of action of EOs, and then examines the laboratory and field tests carried out. Finally, an attempt is made to standardize the results and open up new lines of study in future.
Bava, Roberto;Castagna, Fabio;Palma, Ernesto
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