Image Credit: Image copyright www.InsectIdentification.org; No Reproduction Permitted
Image Credit: Andy Y.
The Giant Red Velvet Mite is actually quite tiny and often overlooked while it hunts along stone walls, sidewalks and decks.
Mites are not actually insects; they are members of the arachnid order, which explains the eight legs. Mites are not spiders though, just distantly related to them. Its bright red color make the Giant Red Velvet Mite easy to spot. Among the world of mites, it is a relative behemoth despite seeming incredibly small to humans. Its short hairs have a sheen, giving it a velvety appearance. This particular mite has a slightly tapered 'waist'. The Giant Red Velvet Mite is usually found in the U.S. Southwest and Mexico though it has been spotted in states as far east as New Jersey.
Giant Red Velvet Mites usually appear in large numbers after summer rains. Most of the year, however, they hibernate underground in silk-lined caverns. When active, they hunt for ants and termites as adults. As larvae, they eat the eggs of other insects and other small arthropods. When seen above ground, they are typically walking on the tops and sides of benches and deck rails, or along pavement or stone paths.
Scientific Name: Dinothrombium sp.
Mite or Tick
Size (Adult; Length): 3mm to 17mm (0.12in to 0.66in)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.