Mite on White

I found this velvet mite at Shaw Nature Reserve (Franklin Co.) in east-central Missouri on a trail through mesic upland forest. At 4 mm in length, this member of the superfamily Trombidioidea is a downright honker compared to most other mites. I suspect it belongs to the nominate family, but comments at BugGuide suggest a lateral view of the palps are necessary for a conclusive ID to family. Regardless of its identity, its screaming red color made it ideally suited to be photographed on a white background. On the other hand, its small size and refusal to ever stop crawling made it a frustrating subject to track through a 65mm lens (all photos shown uncropped).


Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2011

32 thoughts on “Mite on White

  1. Great shots! They are tiny, but stand out so well on the forest floor. These photographs make them look like a large soft toy 😀

    • Good question – from what I gather most species overwinter as adults and lay eggs in the spring, so maybe they’re plump in the fall and shrivel up as they use energy over the winter. On the other hand, maybe differences in sculpturing are normal inter- or intraspecific variation.

  2. You sure this isn’t one of your daughters’ plush toys?
    These have to be the cutest arachnids of all, though the baby salticid that’s been making the rounds lately is right up there, too:

  3. I was finding little florescent-orange/red specks in my dung beetle traps, and thought they were dried flakes from the orange surveyor flags I use to mark the traps. Finally picked out a few, and put them under the scope. VERY cool mites!!!!

  4. This guy is indeed from the nominate family Trombidiidae. In answer to a previous question, I’ve found they swell up more due to water than food… but a proper diet, water, and whether the specimen is gravid all contribute to the fullness of a specimen. Nice photos!

    • Hi, I sell Zootermopsis Angusticollis in a home desktop habitat. I have questions about the mites that I am observing in my colonies. I would love to get info on how to identify these species. Could you give a hand?
      Best,
      chris Poehlmann

  5. I am amazed to come across the picture of these beautiful mite. I lived in Goa India about 25 yrs ago and I remember seeing these mites. As a child I saw these mites come out during the early monsoon. I used to collect them and line them up for a race (kids stuff) keep in mind there were no electronic. The soft velvet coat and the bright red color always fascinated me.

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