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

About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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31 Responses to Mite on White

  1. Gunnar says:

    Aren’t the palps pretty lateral in the downmost picture? Great shots of a difficult subject!

  2. hi ted! fantastic photo! or shall I say, “Art!”

  3. Ani says:

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

  4. Laura says:

    They look like fluffy pillows!

  5. tim eisele says:

    It looks kind of deflated. Do they puff up when they get hold of a good meal?

    • 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.

  6. Marvin says:

    Great photos of a difficult subject.

  7. James C. Trager says:

    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:

  8. LOVE velvet mites! Great shots of them! You capture their pure adorableness perfectly. 🙂

  9. Alex Wild says:

    Whoa- those are *uncropped*? That thing must be huge!

  10. The Ozarkian says:

    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!!!!

  11. Wow! I know how hard these guys are to photograph. Your shots turned out much better than my first attempt. Very nice.🙂

  12. Ray Fisher says:

    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!

  13. Greta says:

    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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