Friday, October 24, 2008

Red Velvet Mite - to Please You!

As the North East Monsoon brings rain showers, here in South India, we see now a beautiful crawling creature. It is seen after each shower, moving on with its legs softly on the fine sand brought out by the storm water. It has velvety shining skin with dimples on its back. It is so soft that you are tempted to touch on its back. This is the
Red Velvet Mite of Trombidium species! (It is called as 'Paappaathee Poochee' or 'Pattu Poochee' in Tamil language). It usually comes out of soil just after the rains, in sunshine, as do also the mushrooms at this time. As children we used to collect these mites in match boxes, with tiny bits of grass added as its diet! But I have seen these mites as predators too, preying on Flying Termites ( 'Eiesel' in Tamil) that also come out of the earth at this time of monsoon.

These Red Velvet Mites live in the layer of fallen leaves in wood lands or farm wastes. They eat small insects, and eggs of other mites and insects. The females get fertilized as they sit on the ‘Love Garden’ made by the male with its semen! The larvae of them live as parasites on other insects like Grasshoppers. The mites live for more than a year.

It is a wonder mite that wondered children and is wondering all the children every year at this time of monsoon here! If you have anything to say about this mite you can share it here by clicking on the Comments.

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