Bright Red Furry Tiny (mite?)
Location: Sonoita Arizona
July 8, 2011 9:44 pm
Sonoita, Arizona, found on cow pie at Patagonia Lake. Really Tiny
Signature: ptosis

Velvet Mite

Dear ptosis,
Tiny, like huge, is a relative adjective.  We believe this is a Velvet Mite in the family Trombidiidae, and as Mites go, Velvet Mites are relatively large.  They are often found in arid environments immediately following rain, when they become quite conspicuous because of their bright coloration.  Adult Velvet Mites feed on insect eggs and larvae are parasites on a variety of insects and and arachnids according to BugGuide.  According to Charles Hogue in his book Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, Velvet Mites prey upon Grasshoppers.  Why your Velvet Mite was on a cow pie is a mystery, unless it was feeding on eggs of flies or other insects that might be attracted to fecal matter.

Thank you very much for you informative answer. It has been very dry for months until recently. There was a downpour in this area a couple of days before this picture. The cattle here are all white and eat some cactus so it’s still brown – I heard from a friend  near Tuscon where the only thing to eat is cactus and that the cow poop is a very bright green.
Thank you again!

Location: Arizona

2 Responses to Velvet Mite

  1. bmoc says:

    The proper spelling of the mite family is “Trombidiidae”. Some authors incorrectly add an “h”.

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