Red Velvet Mite (Trombidiidae)

Look at the cuddly red fluffy pillow! Don't you just want to scope in snuggle and wiggle? This little monstrosity is tiny, reaching a maximum size of 2cm, but in other sense, they're huge! 100 times bigger than any other mites!

Red Velvet Mites are members of subphylum Chelicerata, a group of critters that have tiny lobster-like claws that serve as mouthparts, a feature that relates them closely to spiders, scorpions, and harvestmen. Red velvet mites make their home in the litter layer of woodlands and forests. They live from one to couple of years, depends on the species. 

The Red Velvet Mites are 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 ecosystem. By feeding on insects that eat fungi and bacteria, they stimulate the decomposition process. However still, in larvae stage, they attach themselves to a variety of arthropods and feed parasitically. Technically suck blood from a gnat or grasshopper. When red velvet mites become nymphs and then adults, they take to the soil to devour much smaller prey, including other mites and thier eggs, the eggs of insects and snails, and primitive wingless insects.

Red Velvet Mites- Larvae host on a Bark Louse

Due to their parasitism in larval stage, and appetite in their mature stage, they also play an important role in pest control. Such tiny organism plays such a massive part in maintaining healthy ecosystem.

The Tiny Treasure of the Forest Floor