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Harvestman (with parasitic red mites)

Leiobunum bimaculatum / Tetranychinae sp,


6 mm long body harvestman with red mites. The mites do not kill their host just feed & then move onto another host.


Semi rural wildlife habitat.

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theridula 9 years ago

Nice find! The mites are ectoparasitic larvae of the genus Leptus (Erythraeidae). They are certainly not spider mites (Tetranychidae), which are herbivorous. After engorging on their host, the mites drop off and "pupate" into a nymph, then later pupate again into an adult. The nymphs and adults of the common species parasitizing harvestmen in your area are quite colorful, often dark purple with white spots.

Although they certainly don't kill adult harvestmen, it should be noted that we don't know what effect the parasitism has on the host. For nearly every parasitengone (the group of mites that erythraeids are a part of) that has been investigated, even moderate levels of parasitism can affect longevity and fecundity. So even though they don't kill the host, there are still major effects. That said, these parasites aren't "bad" and instead play a valuable role in controlling host populations. I hope this info is helpful!

KarenL 10 years ago

Thanks Gilma!

So very interesting. I love it here, I learn so much all of the time. Thank you so much.

Jacob Gorneau
Jacob Gorneau 11 years ago

Thanks for those facts, Martin! Very interesting!

KarenL 11 years ago

Thanks for the info Martin!

MartinL 11 years ago

Commenting on a question below by J.
Parasites live on a host and feed on it, usually with minimal harm. Any species that routinely kill their hosts are called parasitoids and usually time their life cycle to leave (eg, pupate) as the host dies.

KarenL 11 years ago

Oneng, harvestmen (Opiliones) are member of the same family, the arachnids, but unlike spiders that have a separate abdomen & cephalothorax (head & thorax), they have a single body section.

OnengDyah 11 years ago

Fabulous........what it is..spider..this is a frist time I see it.

KarenL 11 years ago

Thats a great comment Larry!

LarryGraziano 11 years ago

chun commented that the mites are akin to pimples on your face....especially distressing if you are a teenager.

KarenL 11 years ago

Thank you Sachin!

Sachin Zaveri
Sachin Zaveri 11 years ago


KarenL 11 years ago

Thanks Ashish!

Ashish Nimkar
Ashish Nimkar 11 years ago

Great spotting Karen... I learnt about this spotting when finding what I spotted about my own spotting...!!

KarenL 11 years ago

I feel kind of sorry for the harvestman - I don't know if arachnids feel pain but it can see the mites which presumably must be distressing at the very least.

TinaMorrow 11 years ago

Creepy man!

KarenL 11 years ago

Thanks Jacob! I don't know why except that it probably isn't in their interest - if they stay on the host until it dies they would lose their food source. I guess by moving around they avoid that happening.

Jacob Gorneau
Jacob Gorneau 11 years ago

Amazing! Do you know why the mites don't kill the host?

KarenL 11 years ago

Thank you Gerardo, Leanne, & Chantell!

Chantell 11 years ago

Wow, creepy. Great pict!

LeanneGardner 11 years ago

Wow! Great spot!

Gerardo Aizpuru
Gerardo Aizpuru 11 years ago

Wow poor guy but is a great shot:)

Spotted by

Franklin, Tennessee, USA

Spotted on Jun 28, 2012
Submitted on Jun 29, 2012

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