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Velvet Mite Anystis baccarum

Probably the Velvet Mite is the best known mite, for they can be seen easily and are very common. You can see them -just- without magnifying glass. And the bright red colour makes them striking animals indeed. It also helps they move about a lot. Many people though believe they are looking at spiderlings. Velvet Mites are everywhere, including gardens and parks. The various species of Velvet Mites are very hard to tell apart from oneanother, except for this one. Anystis baccarum is a giant. Among mites that is. It measures 1 tot 1.5 mm. In Europe all other red Velvet Mites are well under 1 mm.

When you see one, you are always looking at a female, for this species has no males. Females are reproductive by themselves (parthogenically). You can see them almost all year around, but there is a peak in spring and early summer. The animals are ferocious hunters, hunting for thrips, spring tails and other very small animals. From a human perspective they are very useful indeed, for they eat a lot of harmful creatures. So people have been trying to breed them for use as biological pest control. There is little progress made, for Anystis baccarum is highly cannabilistic. It is yet unknown whether this occurs in laboratory conditions only, or whether this is also the case in the wild.

This Velvet Mite is sometimes also called the Whirligig Mite.