The Velvet Mite

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Happily pottering around the allotment part of the meadows this afternoon planting Mangetout seeds, I noticed a bright red something in the soil. Positively scarlet in fact:

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I hoiked it out so that I could get a jolly good look at it and get my macro lens on it. It turns out that it is a Velvet Mite (Trombidium holosericeum) because of fine hairs on its body giving it a velvet appearance. This is an 8-legged adult who spends its time wandering round the soil looking for smaller insects to prey upon.

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However, in its larval stage, it has an entirely different modus operandi and attaches itself to larger insects such as grasshoppers and drinks their body fluids although doesn’t seriously harm them. Here is an internet photo as an example of this:

velvetmite

This Velvet Mite is a close relative of the Harvest Mite (Trombidium autumnalis) which attaches itself to mammals and can be a problem for dog owners in the late summer in the UK – but mammals have nothing to fear from this chap, the Velvet Mite, and I returned him to the allotment to continue about his business.

Moving on from mites, this is a photo from today that caught my eye:

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Although I knew that magpies had long tails, I never before realised that they are quite this long.

A whole blog post and I haven’t once mentioned badgers….

 

 

 

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