Attraction and Repulsion (Velvet mite)

velvet mite

A fuzzy bright red velvet mite has its feelers out.

(EDIT: I have left the original text as is below, but I have been informed by a helpful Flickr member that this is NOT a true velvet mite, but rather a Leptus sp. (family Erythraeidae). The more you know!

In between the bold butterflies and beautiful beetles, underneath the bright warnings of wasps and bristly backs of flies, there are other even smaller creatures that fit in, around, and sometimes directly on, their larger, more notable, let’s call them, colleagues. Mites are arachnids, sharing an Order with spiders, daddy-longlegs, and scorpions among others. Usually they are a nuisance if they are noticed at all, but one particular kind of mite is hard not to notice for purely aesthetic reasons. Velvet mites (Family Trombidiidae) exhibit a showstoppingly bright red coloration; combined with their eponymoously fuzzy, soft bodies, there is something squeezable about them. Part of me wants to give them a hug, essentially. The other part however looks at their shape and thinks of a rather large pustule, for which a hug would be about the worst thing ever. It’s an odd vacillation between attraction and repulsion for me and the velvet mite. They lack of prominent eyes or ocelli gives them a “growth-with-legs” appearance and does not help on the repulsion side. They are eye-grabbing either way, and in my experience typically move around a lot, making them difficult subjects to photograph.

Bonus link: here’s a humorous and informative illustration/comic about the mating habits of red velvet mites. (Note: be advised, mature themes.)

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