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A General Introduction.
Terrestrial Mites.

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Red spider mite.
A red spider mite on rocks covered with lichen and moss.

  Terrestrial Mites.

Mites are members of the subclass Acari in the class Arachnida, which class includes spiders, mites, ticks and scorpions. There are about 20,000 mite species found living in soil, in fresh and brackish water, on and in plants, and as parasites of many animals.

House dust mite. This is a house dustmite. They live in the carpets, bedding and furniture of our houses, and have been in the news in recent years in connection with the increased incidence of asthma and other allergic reactions in humans.
They live in those areas of the house which offer a humid microclimate, particularly bedding, as they are very prone to death by dessication.
Their main food is the skin flakes shed by humans and their domestic animals.
It is not so much the mites as their dried faeces, circulating in household dust, which produce the allergic reactions in humans.
Darkfield, x200.
Dustmite animation. This link leads to an animation (920KB) of a house dustmite moving over the surface of a pink nylon bedsheet. It was one of a sequence of shots of dustmites in the home which were used in the 1992 BBC Natural History TV series "Lifesense". An account of the shooting of these sequences will be the subject of a forthcoming article.
It will take about three minutes to load.
Darkfield, x200.
Red spider mite. A red spider mite. These are common, free living mites, and this one was found foraging on a rock surface which was covered with growths of lichen and moss.
It was shot with a portable field microscope setup, and is seen in the characteristic mode of moving as rapidly as possible away from the microscope light-source. Mites in general do not like bright lights.
Incident light: x60.

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