Tag Archives: Mites

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We've never discussed arachnids in detail here at Bug of the Week. Let's find out what we've been missing.

Spiders and their relatives belong to the class Arachnida. How can you tell whether a creature belongs to this group? Arachnids have two body regions called the prosoma (part with eyes and legs) and opisthosoma (rear section). Arachnids have eight legs and they do not have antennae, although they do have two short appendages in front called pedipalps that sometimes may be mistaken for antennae.

wolf-spider-1

Although almost anyone can recognize a spider, there are a number of related arachnids that are less well known.

Scorpions (Order Scorpiones)

scorpion-anatomy

Scorpions have are pincer-like pedipalps  and their opisthosoma is elongated into a relatively thick tail with a stinger on the end.

Like most other arachnids, scorpions are nocturnal. They come out at night to catch insects and other arthropods.

Related posts:

Psuedoscorpions

(Public domain photograph by Alex Wild)

These tiny creatures have pinchers like scorpions (red in this photograph), but have no tail and no stinger. They are often found in compost heaps where they feed on even smaller insects and mites.

Wind Scorpions or Sunspiders

sunspider1These desert arachnids have large chelicerae or jaws that they use for catching insects. They can also use their jaws to stridulate, or make a noise. They don't have a tail.

Related post:  Sunspiders

Whip Scorpion or Vinegaroon

giant-vinegaroon

Unlike all other arachnids, the whip scorpions have a thin tail at the end of the opisthosoma. The pedipalps are robust. In contrast the first pair of legs are thin and have a sensory function similar to antennae.

Vinegaroons have vinegar in their names because they can spray high concentrations of acetic acid if threatened.

Never seen one before? BBC Earth Unplugged has a video of one spraying.

 

Mites and Ticks (Order Acarina)

mite-red-closeThe two body regions are difficult to see in mites and ticks. Their bodies are unsegmented, like small blobs. Also, their legs tend to be quite short relative to their body size.

Certain kinds of mites are among the few arachnids that feed on plants. The red mite in the photograph is an insect predator.

Daddy Long-legs or Harvestman (Order Opiliones)

daddy-long-legLike the mites, the harvestman have what looks like a single oval body region. Unlike the mites, they have long thread-like legs.

Harvestmen differ from spiders by possessing fewer eyes, having only two rather than six or eight. They also lack both venom and silk glands.

Some species of harvestmen are omnivores or scavengers rather than true predators.

Want to learn more?

A few spider identification basics

Check out our growing list of children's books about spiders

spider-books-for-kids

What would you like to know about arachnids?

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Did you flip a rock today? Below are photographs of what I discovered. As soon as I get linked up with Wanderin' Weeta, I will post a list of the participants so you can see what everyone found.

The rocks:

A pile of what we call "river rocks" used to stabilize a drainage area. This particular area is mowed grass, so it is irrigated often.

You would expect to find an isopod (also called rolypoly or pillbug), after all there's one on the International Rock Flipping Day badge.

But what is that with the isopod?

What is that brownish coiled object in the lower right of the photograph?

It is a tiny snail! There's another with its head out.

It's blurry, but definitely a snail. Finding snails is amazing in this hot, dry climate.

The snail wasn't the only one carrying it's house.

What is the gray object that looks like a small tube of mud? It is moving!

There is some sort of insect larva inside.

I think it is a beetle larva carrying a case. It is most likely a member of the leaf beetle family (Cryptocephalinae). It probably got washed to the drainage area during a recent storm.

Another tiny beetle scurries away.

Mites were common. Here's a brightly colored one.

Spiders were also abundant. This tiny jumping spider seems to have its eyes on something.

Maybe it was trying to catch one of these Indian house cricket nymphs.I don't envy any predator that hunts these.

I know I had trouble capturing them with my camera. The springtails that were everywhere were even worse. I never did get a photograph of them.

Finally, I did find some ants. I posted those results at Wild About Ants.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of creatures I found. And in addition to finding different kinds, I also learned a little bit more about my neighbors that live under rocks.

Did you flip any rocks this weekend? What did you find?

For more information about the creatures featured here try:

Isopods

Indian house crickets

Jumping spiders

Mites

Snails and raising snails