This is a Red Velvet Mite also known as the Santa Claus bug by kids. I came across these in my backyard a few years back right after some rain we had gotten . I had never seen them before and did not know what they were until later when I looked them up. Below you will find some info on them if you are interested.

This was taken in my backyard in Odessa, Texas Usa with a Panasonic FZ50

FEATURES and CHALLENGE WINS and TOP 10 PLACES

1. This was Featured in…The World As We See It Or As We Missed it Group ! 02/20/2011
2. This was Featured in the…Little Bit Of Everything Group! 02/22/2011
3. This was Featured in the… You Got It, We Want It Group! 02/26/2011

Red Velvet Mites

Red Velvet Mite
Ruby lord of the love garden
( info found on Google )

At first glance, the minute red critter dancing across the earth is stunning. A closer look under the microscope announces it to be breathtakingly beautiful.

Can this really be said of one of nature’s hairy eight-legged arthropods? Absolutely, if it’s a red velvet mite. Long a favorite of biologists and children, these ruby gems of the family Trombidiidae are most often sighted on the woodland floors of the world, with millions inhabiting the woods of the Chicago Wilderness region.

“Under the microscope they are beautiful!” says Liam Heneghan, an ecosystem ecologist at DePaul University. “They look like a thumbprint.” Most red velvet mites are egg-shaped and less than a millimeter in length. Fine decorative hairs, some of which may serve as feelers, give the creatures their lush red velvet appearance.

Though lovely to the eye, red velvet mites are disliked by the palate: their color may warn predators to the mites’ unpleasant taste. “There are stories about biologists popping them into their mouths,” says George Hammond, a University of Michigan graduate student who studies velvet mites. Other than ill-advised scientists, however, he knows of no natural enemies of these arachnids: “I’ve put them on an anthill and no ant would touch them.”

Heneghan describes red velvet mites as chelicerates. This means that they have tiny lobster-like claws that serve as mouthparts, a feature that relates them closely to spiders, scorpions, and harvestmen.

Sensitive to humidity and apt to dry out easily, red velvet mites make their home in the litter layer of woodlands and forests. They live from one to several years, Hammond says, depending on the species. As larvae, they attach themselves to a variety of arthropods and feed parasitically. They will suck blood from a gnat or grasshopper, for instance, sometimes hitching a ride with several other mites. When red velvet mites become nymphs and then adults, they take to the soil to devour much smaller prey, including other mites and their eggs, the eggs of insects and snails, and primitive wingless insects. Unlike their brethren the chigger and the tick, the velvets keep their mouthparts off of humans.

The presence of red velvet mites is extremely important to the environment. “These mites are part of a community of soil arthropods that is critical in terms of rates of decomposition in woodlands and in maintaining the structure of the entire ecosystem,” says Heneghan. “By feeding on insects that eat fungi and bacteria, they stimulate the decomposition process. And when they are removed from the area, many critical processes in the soil go much slower.”

Hammond and Heneghan say they’ve studied the red velvet mite mating dance, and it’s not to be missed. The males release their sperm on small twigs or stalks, in areas that Heneghan likes to refer to as “love gardens.” Hammond likens them to an array of tiny golf balls on tees.

That ritual is followed by the male laying down an intricate silken trail to the sperm. Females spot these “artistic” trails, then seek out the individual artist. If he’s to her liking, she sits in the sperm. But, warns Heneghan, it’s a brutal world out there. If another male spots one of these love gardens, he’ll promptly trounce it and lay his own.

The planet is home to millions upon millions of mites. Biologists believe there may be thousands of species of red velvet mite alone. Mites remain an under-researched enigma, says Heneghan. “I think we have no real idea what their role is,” he continues. “We’ve only come to realize the importance of the food web in the soil in the last 15 to 20 years. It is the great undiscovered frontier.”

— Lori Rotenberkhttp://www.redbubble.com/people/puffkitty3/art/...

Tags

bugs, red velvet mites, santa claus bugs, red, arthropods, trombidiidae, carla jensen, microartbypuffkitty, natureartbypuffkitty, featuredartbypuffkitty

Photography to me is a way to preserve the astounding wonders of our world. It is a way of bringing life to lifelessness, to stir our emotions upon seeing something fantastic.
Hope you enjoyed viewing through my eyes.

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Comments

  • Wendy Brusca
    Wendy Bruscaover 3 years ago

    I am incredibly itchy now, Carla :) What an amazing shot!

  • LOL LOL Sorry…Thanks so very much…Wendy!!for the fabulous comment, my friend!!

    – Carla Jensen

  • trish725
    trish725over 3 years ago

  • WOW! Thanks so very much…Trish and The World As We See It Or As We Missed it Group !!!! for the Fabulous Honor Of being Featured with in Ya’lls Group!!!! WoooHooooooooo!!!!!!!!!! =D

    – Carla Jensen

  • a~m .
    a~m .over 3 years ago

    ahhh… i was inspecting one of these on the grass only yesterday (here in Sydney, Au) and wondered what on EARTH it was… camouflage not being one of it’s talents!!!! – but it was so bright and busy and beautiful… thanks so much for this post and info..and great picture too.. given i know how tiny they really are… LOL… ?

  • No they standout like a sore thumb don’t they …lol I to had no idea what they were the first time I seen one either and that bright red is what caught my eye even on these very very small bugs!! and I just taking the garbage out when I spotted them out of the corner of my eye and I was like what in the world is that..and ran in to get my camera..lol Thanks so very much…a~m for both the fabulous comment and for swinging by!! both are very much appreciated , my friend!!

    – Carla Jensen

  • hastypudding
    hastypuddingover 3 years ago

  • Many Thanks…hastypudding and the Lumix Lovers Group!

    – Carla Jensen

  • hastypudding
    hastypuddingover 3 years ago

    “Suck blood from a mite.” wow they are really small…terrific photo and wonderful information!

  • Good Morning, Hastypudding…Thanks so very much, my friend!! So glad you enjoyed viewing these little furry red guys! lol

    – Carla Jensen

  • Judi Rustage
    Judi Rustageover 3 years ago

  • Wow!! Thanks so very much…Judi and the Little Bit Of Everything Group!!!! for the Fabulous Honor of being Featured with in ya’lls group!!! WooooHoooooo!!!!! =D

    – Carla Jensen

  • Carla Wick/Jandelle Petters
    Carla Wick/Jan...over 3 years ago

    EXCELLENT info on this little creature! I often come across these here in Kansas and have argued MANY times when people say they ‘bite humans’. I HAD read somewhere though, when still in the juvenile stage…they can bite and release juices in the human skin which causes the severe rashes that people relate to as the ‘chigger’…?

  • Thanks so very much…Carla!!! for both the fabulous comment and for swinging by!! both are very much appreciated!! I have been bitten by chiggers and that is not a fun thing to go through at all!! so it is Good to know that the little ones may bite and will be careful not to see if this is true or not …lol

    – Carla Jensen

  • James Gibbs
    James Gibbsover 3 years ago

    Excellent title and capture!

  • Thanks so very much…James!! for both the fabulous comment and for swinging by!! both are very much appreciated!! =D

    – Carla Jensen

  • Kim  Calvert
    Kim Calvertover 3 years ago

    I have never seen anything like these little guys..the red is incredible..but gotta agree with Wendy, now I am itchy..lol..fantastic close up Carla

  • LOL LOL…Thanks very much, my friend!! Its great to see you around again!

    – Carla Jensen

  • Ann Warrenton
    Ann Warrentonover 3 years ago

    February 26,2011

  • Wow! Thanks so very much…FlowersEtc. and the You Got It, We Want It Group!!! for the Fabulous Honor of being Featured with in ya’lls Group!!!!! WoooHoooooooooo!!!!!!! =D

    – Carla Jensen

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