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Fort Bragg, Cumberland County, North Carolina, USA
June 20, 2005
Size: around 2 mm
It looks like it's eating a gall.

Found out through many people's help that it is probably eating a red ground pearl See comparison image here.

Ground Pearls
Link below broken. Here is a new one.

A little random, but I think I found out what the large red "mite" is. I was taking a look at P.J. Gullan & P.S. Cranston's The Insects: An Outline of Entomology, Second Edition, and on page 200 came across a round insect with large "fangs" and tiny little thoracic legs. I though immediately "I've seen this before!" and went in search of this picture. After looking at the picture, I'm pretty sure that this is indeed what the illustration describes, a "ground pearl" of the family Margarodinae, Order Hemiptera (I think Hemiptera is current now for Heteroptera and the two divisions of Homoptera...). It says that there are several genera in Margarodinae, including Margarodes, Neomargarodes, Porphyrophora, and Promargarodes, that have immature larvae called ground pearls, because of their globose shape and pearly luster. They don't have the fangs like this one, but the adult females do. Males are extremely rare. The "fangs" are actually the enlarged femurs of the forelegs, the other black spines are thoracic legs. These are apparently pests of grasses in the United States. I'll do a little more digging, but we may want to move a copy of this one elsewhere!

Image of Margarodes

Very interesting
and weird. Thanks to both of you for the info.

One more note to this mystery is that this red thing was attached to a tree leaf (or large bush leaf) that was probably 3 or so feet off the ground. Doesn't quite fit the "ground" pearl description?

Hi Lynette. Have no idea about the red mite, but the springtail is an entomobryid. It is not eating the mite. More probably it is the reverse... if it is a mite. Mites are common predators of springtails. If the socalled fangs are really its claws, one can see a pair of much smaller claws at the mid of the red body, then the mite is piercing the springtail with its mouthparts, sucking it empty... The mite is lying on its back then. Weird shot...

for the info on the spingtail. As far as the mite theory...I don't know if it's a mite or not. The red thing never moved, and the two springtail that were on the leaf certainly seemed to be eating the red thing. The springtails were very active, crawling off and on and around the red thing. I wonder if a springtail would eat a dead mite?

I still don't know what to make of this,
however, I just noticed that there is another, smaller "fang" protruding from the same sort of orangish mound or cone as the larger fangs arise from. Using descriptors for an upsidedown octaplegic mite, it is on the right side of its underbelly. I see nothing else to suggest this is a mite, so it must be a gall that sprouts wicked-looking hooks, perhaps to ward off birds.

How about arachnid?
Take a look at those curved fangs protruding from your "gall" and I think you might agree with me that we're looking at an octaplegic red mite.

That thing
is a red mite??? I saw the spikes....but why was it attached to the leaf and why was the springtail "eating" it.

Got me
Actually, I have no idea what a red mite's fangs look like, but I've never heard of a gall with fangs. Why something would eat the legs off a mite and leave the body stuck to a leaf is beyond me, but so is a red gall poised to bite. I'm eager to see what ideas others may have about this image.

btw, that's one of the best images of a springtail I've seen!

Eating legs
Not much nutrition in the drumstick of a mite, I know, but I once saw a Rove Beetle break the legs off a May Beetle, one by one. Once the poor Scarab was legless it wasn't able to put up much of a struggle.

Great photo, Lynette!


Stephen Cresswell
Buckhannon, WV

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