Saturday, 2 August 2008

Phoretic Mites

I took this shot of the Sexton beetle Nicorophorus vespilloides when it flew into me as I was photographing moths at light:

Eagle-eyed readers will have already spotted the Phoretic mites on the elytra (and one at the back of the head):
The mites are not parasitic on the beetle, but are carnivorous, eating fly larvae that could be a threat to the beetle larvae. They use the beetle as transport, so we have a good symbiotic relationship, here.

I also coincidentally photographed this Harvestman with phoretic mites on the same day:


Aynia said...


Helena said...

Harvestman- aaarrghhhh!!!!!!

Gill said...

"as I was photographing moths at light" did you mean "at night"? Or "at the light?" - fantastic shot. I think it's fascinating that apart from the one on the head the mites have carefully arranged themselves on the coloured patches on the elytra even though it's dark.

What does "phoretic" mean?

Stuart said...

>did you mean "at night"? Or "at the light?"

Moths which had been attracted to light at night. Flash either way.

Maybe the mites jumped abourd during the daytime, but I had certainly noted their placement.

Phoretic = non-parasitic, but not necessarily beneficial.

Gill said...

"Flash either way." That the built-in camera flash or special kit? You've managed to avoid that harsh "flashy" look - tissue over the flash?

Aynia said...

Stuart, perhaps a blog entry about your kit and methodology? I'd definitely read it.