A Velvet Mite

A fiery Velvet mite.

I was camping at the The Narrows Provincial Recreation Area in Alberta when I found this mite. It was under the bark of a fallen aspen tree – a bright-red eye-catcher among the decaying duff below the bark. This mite is in the family Trombidiidae which are known to feed on small invertebrates and their eggs. The red color is caused by carotenoids which may provide UV protection and it could also indicate to predators that it is distasteful (aposematism). Larvae of this mite can be found clinging to larger invertebrates such as grasshoppers and daddy long-leg spiders and are said to feed upon the body fluids of the host.

Late addition: Heather Proctor at the University of Alberta has indicated that, based on the photograph,  the I.D. can only be determined as Parasitengona: Trombidioidea: Trombidiidae, and without more knowledge of the details of the “…number of setae on the palp tibia, shape of prodorsal sclerite, fine details of dorsal body setae, and even the shape of the chelicera“, the genus cannot be found. The post has been corrected to show this.

Visit the UK Wildlife Blog to see a velvet mite feeding on an aphid.

(Information from Wikipedia)

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This entry was posted in Acari, Alberta, Arachnid, macro, photography, Trombidiidae and tagged , , , , , .

2 Comments

  1. Ted C. MacRae 23 May, 2010 at 8:54 PM #

    The Palearctic Trombidium holosericeum? Is it an import?

    Nice image.

    • Adrian Thysse. 23 May, 2010 at 10:51 PM #

      If I have the ID right it must be an import…but I’m sure Dave will straighten me out if I have it wrong.
      P.S… reduced to just a Trombidium sp. until I am sure….

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