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{{other uses}}{{good article}}{{Paraphyletic group| name = Mites| image = Peacock mite, Tuckerella sp.jpg| image_alt = Peacock mite ("Tuckerella" sp.), false-colour SEM, magnified 260×
Tuckerella sp.), false color Scanning electron microscope>SEM, magnified 260×| auto = yes| parent = Acari| includes = }}Mites are small arthropods belonging to the class Arachnida and the subclass Acari (also known as Acarina). The term "mite" refers to the members of several groups in Acari but it is not a clade as it spans two different groups of arachnids; it also excludes the ticks, order Ixodida. Mites and ticks are characterised by the body being divided into two regions, the cephalothorax or prosoma (there is no separate head), and an opisthosoma. The scientific discipline devoted to the study of ticks and mites is called acarology.Most mites are tiny, less than {{convert|1|mm|in|2|abbr=on}} in length, and have a simple, unsegmented body plan. Their small size makes them easily overlooked; some species live in water, many live in soil as decomposers, others live on plants, sometimes creating galls, while others again are predators or parasites. This last group includes the commercially important Varroa parasite of honey bees, as well as the scabies mite of humans. Most species are harmless to humans but a few are associated with allergies or may transmit diseases.

Evolution and taxonomy

File:Yellow mite (Tydeidae) Lorryia formosa 2 edit.jpg|thumb|upright|The microscopic mite Lorryia formosa (TydeidaeTydeidaeThe mites are not an exact taxon, but the name is used for members of several groups in the subclass Acari. The phylogeny of the Acari has been relatively little studied, but molecular information from ribosomal DNA is being extensively used to understand relationships between groups. The 18 S rRNA gene provides information on relationships among phyla and superphyla, while the ITS2, and the 18S ribosomal RNA and 28S ribosomal RNA genes, provide clues at deeper levels.BOOK, Dhooria, Manjit Singh, Fundamentals of Applied Acarology,weblink 2016, Springer, 978-981-10-1594-6, 176,


The third edition (2009) of the standard textbook A Manual of Acarology uses a system of six orders, grouped into three superorders:BOOK, A Manual of Acarology, 3rd, Gerald W. Krantz, D. E. Walter, 2009, Texas Tech University Press, 978-0-89672-620-8,
  • Superorder Opilioacariformes – a small order of large mites that superficially resemble harvestmen (Opiliones), hence their name
  • Superorder Parasitiformes – ticks and a variety of mites
  • Superorder Acariformes – the most diverse group of mites
    • Trombidiformes – plant parasitic mites (spider mites, peacock mites, gall mites, red-legged earth mites, etc.), snout mites, chiggers, hair follicle mites, velvet mites, water mites, etc.
    • Sarcoptiformes
      • Oribatida – oribatid mites, beetle mites, armored mites (also cryptostigmata)
      • Astigmatina – stored product, fur, feather, dust, and human itch mites, etc.

Fossil record

File:Milbe cf Glaesacarus rhombeus.jpg|thumb|Mite, cf Glaesacarus rhombeus, fossilised in Baltic amber, Upper EoceneUpper EoceneMost fossil acarids are no older than the Tertiary (up to 65 mya).JOURNAL, de la Fuente, José, The fossil record and the origin of ticks (Acari: Parasitiformes: Ixodida), Experimental and Applied Acarology, 29, 3/4, 2003, 331–344, 10.1023/A:1025824702816, Earlier fossils are too few to enable mite phylogeny to be reconstructed from palaeontological evidence, but in 2002 an oribatid mite (Brachypylina) from the Early Ordovician (c. 480 mya) was found in Oland, Sweden.BOOK, Bernini, F., Nannelli, R., Nuzaci, G., de Lillo, E., An Early Ordovician oribatid mite (Acari: Oribatida) from the island of Oland, Sweden, Bernini, F., Carnevale, G., Bagnoli, G., Stouge, S., Acarid Phylogeny and Evolution: Adaptation in Mites and Ticks. Proceedings of the IV Symposium of the European Association of Acarologists, 2002, Springer, 978-94-017-0611-7, 45–47, The first find of Parasitiformes from the Mesozoic was of an argasid tick larva in Cretaceous amber (90–94 mya) from New Jersey.JOURNAL, Klompen, Hans, Grimaldi, David, First Mesozoic Record of a Parasitiform Mite: a Larval Argasid Tick in Cretaceous Amber (Acari: Ixodida: Argasidae), Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 94, 1, 2001, 10–15, 10.1603/0013-8746(2001)094[0010:FMROAP]2.0.CO;2, Other fossils including the first opilioacariform mite are preserved in Baltic amber of Eocene age (44 mya).JOURNAL, Dunlop, Jason A., Wunderlich, Jörg, Poinar, George O., The first fossil opilioacariform mite (Acari: Opilioacariformes) and the first Baltic amber camel spider (Solifugae), Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh: Earth Sciences, 94, 3, 2007, 261–273, 10.1017/S0263593300000663,


Members of the superorders Opilioacariformes and Acariformes (sometimes known as Actinotrichida) are mites, as well as some of the Parasitiformes (sometimes known as Anactinotrichida).WEB,weblink Acari: The mites, Walter, David Evans, Krantz, Gerald, Lindquist, Evert, 13 December 1996, Tree of Life Web Project, 6 October 2017, Recent genetic research has caused a change in the naming scheme, however, and recent publications have changed the superorder Parasitiformes to an order.JOURNAL, S.C., Barker, A., Murrell, 2004, Systematics and evolution of ticks with a list of valid genus and species names, Parasitology, 129, 7, S15–S36, 10.1017/S0031182004005207, yes, Other recent research has suggested that Acari is polyphyletic (of multiple origins), with ticks and spiders more closely related than ticks and mites.JOURNAL, Sanggaard, Kristian W., Bechsgaard, Jesper S., Fang, Xiaodong, Spider genomes provide insight into composition and evolution of venom and silk, Nature Communications, 6 May 2014, 5, 3765, 10.1038/ncomms4765, 24801114, 4273655, 2014NatCo...5.3765S, The cladogram is based on Dabert et al 2010, which used molecular data. It shows the Acariformes sister to the Solifugae (camel spiders), while the Parasitiformes are sister to the Pseudoscorpionida.JOURNAL, Dabert, Miroslawa, Witalinski, Wojciech, Kazmierski, Andrzej, Olszanowski, Ziemowit, Dabert, Jacek, Molecular phylogeny of acariform mites (Acari, Arachnida): Strong conflict between phylogenetic signal and long-branch attraction artifacts, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 56, 1, 2010, 222–241, 10.1016/j.ympev.2009.12.020, 20060051, {{barlabel|size=5
label1="Acari" (mites and ticks)|cladogram={{clade|label1=part of Arachnida|1={{cladex
|1=False scorpions (File:Pseudoscorpion - Soil Fauna Diversity.jpeg|70px)
|1=Ixodida (ticks) (File:Tick_male_(aka).jpg|50px)
|2=Parasitic mites, inc. Varroa (File:5-Varroa destructor on head bee pupa by Gilles San Martin.jpg|50px)
|1=Trombidiformes (chiggers, velvet mites, etc) (File:Trombidium holosericeum (aka).jpg|50px) 
|2=Sarcoptiformes (dust & fur mites, etc) (File:Plateremaeoidea.jpg|50px)
|label2=Solifugae |barend1=red
|2=Camel spiders (File:MojaveSolifugid.JPG|50px)



Mites are tiny members of the class Arachnida; most are in the size range {{convert|250|to|750|µm|in|2|abbr=on}} but some are larger and some are no bigger than {{convert|100|µm|in|3|abbr=on}} as adults. The body plan is similar to that of ticks in having two regions, a cephalothorax (with no separate head) or prosoma, and an opisthosoma or abdomen. Segmentation has almost entirely been lost and the prosoma and opisthosoma are fused, only the positioning of the limbs indicating the location of the segments.(File:Acarine anatomy and morphology.png|thumb|right|upright=1.6|1 Chelicerae, 2 Palps, 3 Salivary glands, 4 Gut, 5 Excretory (Malpighian) tubules, 6 Anus, 7 Ovary or testes, 8 Air-breathing tubes (tracheae), 9 Central ganglion, 10 Legs, 11 Hypostome.Balashov, Y.S. (1972). Bloodsucking Ticks - Vectors of Diseases of Man and Animals. Miscellaneous Publications of the Entomological Society of America, 8: 161–376.)At the front of the body is the gnathosoma or capitulum. This is not a head and does not contain the eyes or the brain, but is a retractable feeding apparatus consisting of the chelicerae, the pedipalps and the oral cavity. It is covered above by an extension of the body carapace and is connected to the body by a flexible section of cuticle. The mouthparts differ between taxa depending on diet; in some species the appendages resemble legs while in others they are modified into chelicerae-like structures. The oral cavity connects posteriorly to the mouth and pharynx.Most mites have four pairs of legs, each with six segments, which may be modified for swimming or other purposes. The dorsal surface of the body is clad in hardened tergites and the ventral surface by hardened sclerites; sometimes these form transverse ridges. The gonopore (genital opening) is located on the ventral surface between the fourth pair of legs. Some species have one to five median or lateral eyes but many species are blind, and slit and pit sense organs are common. Both body and limbs bear setae (bristles) which may be simple, flattened, club-shaped or sensory. Mites are usually some shade of brown, but some species are red, orange, black or green, or some combination of these colours.


Mites have a typical arachnid digestive system, although some species lack an anus: they do not defecate during their short lives.WEB, Yong, Ed, You Almost Certainly Have Mites On Your Face,weblink National Geographic, 23 November 2017, 27 August 2014, The circulatory system consists of a network of sinuses and lacks a heart, movement of fluid being driven by the contraction of body muscles. Gas exchange is carried out across the body surface, but many species additionally have between one and four pairs of tracheae, the spiracles being located in the front half of the body. The excretory system includes a nephridium and one or two pairs of Malpighian tubules.

Reproduction and life cycle

File:Harvest mite cycle.svg|thumb|(Harvest mite]] (Trombiculidae) life cycle: the larvae and nymphs resemble small adults, though the larvae have only 6 legs.)The sexes are separate in mites; males have a pair of testes in the mid-region of the body, each connected to the gonopore by a vas deferens, and in some species there is a chitinous penis; females have a single ovary connected to the gonopore by an oviduct, as well as a seminal receptacle for the storage of sperm. In most mites, sperm is transferred to the female indirectly; the male either deposits a spermatophore on a surface from which it is picked up the female, or he uses his chelicerae or third pair of legs to insert it into the female's gonopore. In some of the Acariformes, insemination is direct using the male's penis.The eggs are laid in the substrate, or wherever the mite happens to live. They take from two to six weeks to hatch, and the first stage larvae have six legs. After three moults, the larvae become nymphs, with eight legs, and after a further three moults, they become adults. Longevity varies between species, but the lifespan of mites is short as compared to many other arachnids.



File:Rust Mite, Aceria anthocoptes.jpg|thumb|Russet mite, Aceria anthocoptes is found on the invasive weed Cirsium arvense, the Canada thistle, across the world. It may be usable as a biological pest control agent for this weed.JOURNAL, Biljana D. Magud, Ljubiša Ž. Stanisavljević, Radmila U. Petanović, 2007, Morphological variation in different populations of Aceria anthocoptes (Acari: Eriophyoidea) associated with the Canada thistle, Cirsium arvense, in Serbia, Experimental and Applied AcarologyExperimental and Applied AcarologyMites occupy a wide range of ecological niches. For example, Oribatida mites are important decomposers in many habitats. They eat a wide variety of material including living and dead plant and fungal material, lichens and carrion; some are predatory, though no oribatid mites are parasitic.JOURNAL, Arroyo, J., Keith, A.M., Schmidt, O., Bolger, T., 2013, Mite abundance and richness in an Irish survey of soil biodiversith with comments on some newly recorded species, Ir. Nat. J., 33, 19–27, Mites are among the most diverse and successful of all invertebrate groups. They have exploited a wide array of habitats, and because of their small size go largely unnoticed. They are found in fresh and salt water, in the soil, in forests, pastures, agricultural crops, ornamental plants, thermal springs and caves. They inhabit organic debris of all kinds and are extremely numerous in leaf litter. They feed on animals, plants and fungi and some are parasites of plants and animals.BOOK, Jeppson, L.R., Keifer, Hartford H., Baker, Edward William, Mites Injurious to Economic Plants,weblink 1975, University of California Press, 978-0-520-02381-9, 1–3, Some 48,200 species of mites have been described,BOOK, Nature and human society: the quest for a sustainable world : proceedings of the 1997 Forum on Biodiversity, Peter H. Raven, Tania Williams, National Academies, 2000, Global Diversity of Mites, 192–212, R. B. Halliday, B. M. OConnor & A. S. Baker,weblink but there may be a million or more species as yet undescribed.BOOK, Invertebrate Zoology, 7th edition, Ruppert, Edward E., Fox, Richard, S., Barnes, Robert D., 2004, Cengage Learning, 978-81-315-0104-7, 590–595, The tropical species Archegozetes longisetosus is one of the strongest animals in the world, relative to its mass (100 μg): It lifts up to 1,182 times its own weight, over five times more than would be expected of such a minute animal.JOURNAL, Michael Heethoff, Lars Koerner, yes, 2007, Small but powerful – the oribatid mite Archegozetes longisetosus Aoki (Acari, Oribatida) produces disproportionate high forces, Journal of Experimental Biology, 210, 17, 3036–3042, 10.1242/jeb.008276, 17704078, A mite also holds a speed record: for its length, Paratarsotomus macropalpis is the fastest animal on Earth.WEB,weblink Mite sets new record as world's fastest land animal, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), 27 April 2014, Featured Research, ScienceDaily, 23 November 2017, JOURNAL, Rubin, Samuel, Young, Maria Ho-Yan, Wright, Jonathan C., Whitaker, Dwight L., Ahn, Anna N., 2016, Exceptional running and turning performance in a mite, Journal of Experimental Biology, 219, 5, 676–685, 10.1242/jeb.128652, 26787481,


Many mites are parasitic on plants and animals. One family of mites, Pyroglyphidae, or nest mites, live primarily in the nests of birds and animals. These mites are largely parasitic and consume blood, skin and keratin. Dust mites, which feed mostly on dead skin and hair shed from humans instead of consuming them from the organism directly, evolved from these parasitic ancestors.WEB, Erickson, Jim, Genetic study of house dust mites demonstrates reversible evolution,weblink Michigan News, 31 May 2014, 2013-03-08, Parasitic mites sometimes infest insects. Varroa destructor attaches to the body of honey bees, and Acarapis woodi (family Tarsonemidae) lives in their tracheae. Hundreds of species are associated with other bees, mostly poorly described. They attach to bees in a variety of ways. For example, Trigona corvina workers have been found with mites attached to the outer face of their hind tibiae.DOCUMENT, Stingless bees (Meliponidae) of the Western Hemisphere : Lestrimelitta and the following subgenera of Trigona : Trigona, Paratrigona, Schwarziana, Parapartamona, Cephalotrigona, Oxytrigona, Scaura, and Mourella. Bulletin of the AMNH ; v. 90, Schwarz, Herbert Ferlando, Bacon, Annette, Louise, 2246/1231, 1948, Some are thought to be parasites, while others are beneficial symbionts. Mites also parasitize some ant species, such as Eciton burchellii.JOURNAL, Berghoff, S.M., Wurst, E., Ebermann, E., Sendova-Franks, A.A.B., Rettenmeyer, C.W., Franks, N.R., Symbionts of societies that fission: Mites as guests or parasites of army ants, Ecological Entomology, 34, 6, 684, 2009, 10.1111/j.1365-2311.2009.01125.x,weblink File:Eriophyes tiliae tiliae.JPG|thumb|upright|Lime nail galls on Tilia × europaea, caused by the mite Eriophyes tiliaeEriophyes tiliaePlant pests include the so-called spider mites (family Tetranychidae), thread-footed mites (family Tarsonemidae), and the gall mites (family Eriophyidae).BOOK, Fenemore, P.G., Plant Pests and Their Control,weblink 2016, Elsevier, 978-1-4831-8286-5, 112, Among the species that attack animals are members of the sarcoptic mange mites (family Sarcoptidae), which burrow under the skin. Demodex mites (family Demodicidae) are parasites that live in or near the hair follicles of mammals, including humans.BOOK, Hall, John C., Hall, Brian J., Skin Infections: Diagnosis and Treatment,weblink 2009, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-89729-7, 260,


Being unable to fly, mites need some other means of dispersal. On a small scale, walking is used to access other suitable locations in the immediate vicinity. Some species mount to a high point and adopt a dispersal posture and get carried away by the wind, while others waft a thread of silk aloft to balloon to a new position.BOOK, Capinera, John L., Encyclopedia of Entomology,weblink 2008, Springer Science & Business Media, 978-1-4020-6242-1, 2425, Parasitic mites use their hosts to disperse, and spread from host to host by direct contact. Another strategy is phoresy; the mite, often equipped with suitable claspers or suckers, grips onto an insect or other animal, and gets transported to another place. A phoretic mite is just a hitch-hiker and does not feed during the time it is carried by its temporary host. These travelling mites are mostly species that reproduce rapidly and are quick to colonise new habitats.

Relationship with humans

File:Stefania Lanza and her soft toy Scabies Mite.jpg|thumb|upright|Public health worker Stefania Lanzia using a soft toy scabies mite to publicise scabiesscabiesMites are tiny, almost invisible, and apart from those that are of economic concern to humans, little studied. The majority are beneficial, living in the soil or aqueous environments and assisting in the decomposition of decaying organic material, or consuming fungi, plant or animal matter, as part of the carbon cycle.

Medical significance

{{further|Acariasis}}The majority of mite species are harmless to humans and domestic animals, but a few species can colonize mammals directly, acting as vectors for disease transmission, and causing or contributing to allergenic diseases. Mites which colonize human skin are the cause of several types of itchy skin rashes, such as gamasoidosis,JOURNAL, Schulze, Keith E., Cohen, Philip R., 1994, Dove-associated gamasoidosis: A case of avian mite dermatitis,weblink Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, English, 30, 2, 278–280, 10.1016/S0190-9622(08)81930-5, 0190-9622, rodent mite dermatitis,JOURNAL, Theis, Jerold, 1981-06-01, Tropical Rat Mite Dermatitis, Archives of Dermatology, en, 117, 6, 341–3, 10.1001/archderm.1981.01650060031018, 7247425, 0003-987X, grain itch,BOOK, James, William D., Berger, Timothy G., Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology, Saunders Elsevier, 2006, 454, 978-0-7216-2921-6, grocer's itch, and scabies; Sarcoptes scabiei is a parasitic mite responsible for scabies, which is one of the three most common skin disorders in children.JOURNAL, Andrews RM, McCarthy J, Carapetis JR, Currie BJ, Skin disorders, including pyoderma, scabies, and tinea infections, Pediatr. Clin. North Am., 56, 6, 1421–40, December 2009, 19962029, 10.1016/j.pcl.2009.09.002, Demodex mites, which are common cause of mange in dogs and other domesticated animals, have also been implicated in the human skin disease rosacea, although the mechanism by which demodex contributes to the disease is unclear.BOOK, Whitehead, Joanne, Barrows, Brady, Journal of the Rosacea Research & Development Institute: Volume 1 Number 1, 2010,weblink 2010, Universe, 978-1-4502-0344-9, 47, File:Robert Hooke, Micrographia, mites; eggs Wellcome L0000180.jpg|thumb|upright|Mites and their eggs, drawn by Robert Hooke, MicrographiaMicrographiaChiggers are known primarily for their itchy bite, but they can also spread disease in some limited circumstances, such as scrub typhus.DETECTION OF ORIENTIA TSUTSUGAMUSHI (RICKETTSIALES: RICKETTSIACEAE) IN UNENGORGED CHIGGERS (ACARI: TROMBICULIDAE) FROM OITA PREFECTURE, JAPAN, BY NESTED POLYMERASE CHAIN REACTION>AUTHOR1=PHAM, X.D.
AUTHOR3=SUZUKI, H. JOURNAL=JOURNAL OF MEDICAL ENTOMOLOGY ISSUE=2 PAGES=308–311, 11296840house-mouse mite is the only known vector of the disease rickettsialpox.20666166 LAST1=DIAZ TITLE=ENDEMIC MITE-TRANSMITTED DERMATOSES AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES IN THE SOUTH VOLUME=162 PAGES=140–145, 147–149, House dust mites, found in warm and humid places such as beds, cause several forms of allergic diseases, including hay fever, asthma and eczema, and are known to aggravate atopic dermatitis.HTTP://WWW.NETDOCTOR.CO.UK/HEALTH_ADVICE/FACTS/ALLERGYHOUSEDUSTMITE.HTM > TITLE=HOUSE DUST MITE ALLERGYAUTHOR1=PAUL KLENERMAN ACCESSDATE=FEBRUARY 20, 2008, Among domestic animals, sheep are affected by the mite Psoroptes ovis which lives on the skin, causing hypersensitivity and inflammation.JOURNAL, Van den Broek, A., 2000, Cutaneous and systemic responses during primary and challenge infestations of sheep with the sheep scab mite, Psoroptes ovis, Parasite Immunology, 22, 8, 407–414, 10.1046/j.1365-3024.2000.00318.x,

In beekeeping

The mite Varroa destructor is a serious pest of honey bees, contributing to colony collapse disorder in commercial hives. The mite is an obligate external parasite, able to reproduce only in bee colonies. It directly weakens its host by sucking up the bee's fat, and can spread RNA viruses including deformed wing virus. Heavy infestation causes the death of a colony, generally over the winter. Since 2006, over 10 million beehives have been lost.JOURNAL, Ernesto Guzmán-Novoa, Leslie Eccles, Yireli Calvete, Janine Mcgowan, Paul G. Kelly, Adriana Correa-Benítez, yes, 2009,weblink Varroa destructor is the main culprit for the death and reduced populations of overwintered honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies in Ontario, Canada, Apidologie, 10.1051/apido/2009076, 41, 4, 443–450, NEWS,weblink London, The Guardian, Alison, Benjamin, Fears for crops as shock figures from America show scale of bee catastrophe, 2 May 2010,

In culture

Mites were first observed under the microscope by the English polymath Robert Hooke. In his 1665 book Micrographia, he stated that far from being spontaneously generated from dirt, they were "very prettily shap'd Insects".BOOK, Marren, Peter, Mabey, Richard, Bugs Britannica,weblink 2010, Chatto & Windus, 978-0-7011-8180-2, 122–125, The world's first science documentary featured cheese mites, seen under the microscope; the short film was shown in London's Alhambra music hall in 1903, causing a boom in the sales of simple microscopes. A few years later, Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a satirical poem, Parable, with the conceit of some cheese mites disputing the origin of the round Cheddar cheese in which they all lived.

See also




External links


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