Saturday, June 11, 2005


mite-on-Frosti, originally uploaded by tardigrade.

This Cicindela frosti from Mugu Lagoon in Southern California, has a mite attached to its elytra (the arrow points to the shiny spot). Tiger and other beetles are targeted by mites because they are very mobile larger animals and can transport the mites to new areas.

The mites are usually in the hypopus stage where the mite's life cycle is truncated and its organs have altered. Hypopi do not have mouth parts and usually have incomplete guts. However, when the larger animal is weakened by lack of water, food, or is advanced in age or hurt in some way, the mite transforms into a eating, growing and reproducing machine.

In some ways, the mite not only hitches a ride to new places but may actually be waiting for its important meal to die. The question remains, do the attachments of the mites cause the host to loose vitality and to succumb more quickly?

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