Red Spider Mite

Mites and Ticks, belong to a group of invertebrates kin to spiders. Mites are tiny (0.4 to 3 mm); ticks are slightly larger (generally between 3 and 29 mm). Some species of mites live on land, other species are waterborne. Some are considered agricultural pests, feeding plant matter (including human crops and the leaves of fruit trees). Some carry disease laden microorganisms; one species is responsible for mange in vertebrates. Other species are beneficial, preying on aphid eggs and nematode worms. Ticks live on land, mostly in wooded areas and pastures. Ticks are bloodsucking parasites that can carry blood-borne disease-producing organisms, which they transmit to other animals through bites in the skin.

Most species of mites and ticks lay eggs, but some species give birth to live young. The mite usually lays its eggs in wounds it causes in an animal’s skin or on the eterior of a plant. Females of some species lay eggs on plant leaves in loose webs, which they spin with silk produced in glands near the mouth. Tick eggs are laid on the ground. The eggs of mites and ticks develop into larvae, which have six legs.

The larvae develop into nymphs, which have eight legs, and the nymphs then develop into the adults. Adult mites and ticks have saclike bodies, with no visible separation between the head, thorax, and abdomen. Piercing mouthparts are adapted for sucking juices from plants and for penetrating bites to animal skin.

When a mite or tick bites, its entire head enters the bite wound. An anchoring structure below the jaws holds it firmly in place. In the mite this structure is smooth, and the mite is easily brushed off. In the tick this structure is toothed; ticks can be removed from the skin with tweezers, but care must be taken to be sure to remove the head with the body.

Common mites include the chigger (or jigger), chicken mite, cheese mite, itch mite, and the red spider mite, a common garden pest. The wood tick  and dog tick are common ticks that suck blood from humans, dogs, rodents, among other mammals; these ticks are capable of  spreading diseases such as tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Ticks of the genus Ixodes, including the deer tick, carry Lyme disease, an inflammatory human disease. The aptly named Texas fever tick carries Texas fever, a disease among cattle. A genus of ticks called soft ticks transmits a disease called relapsing fever, which also affects humans.  The sheep tick, or sheep ked, is not a tick, but a wingless fly that spreads trypanosomiasis (a sleeping sickness) and other diseases of sheep.

The itch mite is Sarcoptes scabiei; chicken mite, Dermanyssus gallinae; cheese mite, Acarus siro; red spider mite, Tetranychus telarius; dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis; wood tick, D. andersoni; deer tick, Ixodes dammini; Texas fever tick, Boophilus annulatus. Soft ticks belong to the genus Ornithodoros. All belong to the order Acarina of the class Arachnida. The sheep tick is Melaphagus ovinus of the family Hippoboscidae, order Diptera.

What Is A Tick?

A tick is an arachnid. It is similar to a mite, only larger. You do not need any magnification to see most ticks.

All ticks are parasites. They feed on the blood of other animals. Most live in fields and wooded areas. Ticks lie among fallen leaves or on plants that grow low to the ground. When an animal brushes against the plant, the tick will leap onto it’s body. The tick begins to suck the host’s blood until its own body swells like a balloon. Then the tick falls off and molts. Teh tick then waits for another host to come by to feed again.

Most ticks are “harmless” to animals and humans, but some spread disease (i.e. Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, and relapsing fever).

Which “Spider” Is Really A Mite?

Don’t let the red spider’s name fool you. The red spider is a mite. It looks like a spider. And it is not always red. Red spider mites can also be green, yellow, or orange.

The red spider mite eats plants, sometimes destroying them. The mite uses its sharp mouthparts to rip open leaf cells. This damages to the leave can cause death for the plant.

A red spider is approximately the size of a grain of salt. Because the mites are so small, they are usually first detected by the damage they cause.