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tick nymph or mite?  - Amblyomma

tick nymph or mite? - Amblyomma
Donalds, Abbeville County, South Carolina, USA
August 4, 2011
Size: < 1mm
upon returning from a walk in the woods/field today found scads of these climbing my pant legs. I generally use the term "chigger" as a catchall for these biting irritants but it'd be nice to have an ID on this guy.

Moved from Hard Ticks.

Amblyomma sp
Probably Amblyomma americanum, though it could be A. maculatum. Hard to say in the larvae


This is a tick, not a chigger... the coxae are visible, gnathosoma is tick-like, festoons are apparent, body is flattened, and it isn't red. At first, I was really confused how this could be confused with a chigger, which look completely different in almost every way (for example, see Dave Walter's SEM of a chigger here). Then, I checked out the Wikipedia article for T. alfreddugesi and it was obvious... the photo on Wikipedia also depicts a tick larva, not a trombiculid larva. Mystery solved :)

Unfortunately, I'm not a tick guy... so I can't ID beyond family. I'll move it there for now...

Curse Wikipedia! :)
Well, that'll teach me to trust Wikipedia when looking up a new subject. I thought they looked tick-like, but having never seen a chigger, I was overly trusting of the first picture I found online (on Wikipedia) and thought that looked like a good match for what these were. I guess this means I have 108 tick bites on my feet then. :( Thanks for catching the mistake! :)

No worries
Happens to the best of us. 108 tick bites sounds horrendous... it's always surprising to me how long tick bites last. I don't usually think of them like mosquito or chigger bites, but they can last a while.

Chigger confusion is not uncommon. Larvae are very, very small and adults (which are also quite small) live in the soil. To exacerbate the problem, there are no photographs online (that I can find) of larval trombiculids. There are a few SEMs and line drawings, but by far, the great majority are mis-identifications; often they depict either another velvet mite or Anystidae... both of which are very common, but are not similar looking to larval trombiculids. Anyway, just making the point that chiggers are highly misunderstood, and in general, information regarding them should be regarded with skepticism.

One of these days I'll get around to uploading my images of Parasitengona... I've got some chigger images that may be helpful.

Thanks for clearing that up :-). These guys have been especially bad this year around here. In no time there will be multitudes upon you and they WILL find the tiniest chink in your armor. I think most people assume "chigger" due to their tiny size and the multiple and intense itching and misery they produce. In fact, I have heard "chigger" all my life, but since I've been paying attention the last 10 yrs or so, I don't think I have *ever* seen an actual chigger. They've all been these tiny brown specks, not red.

Moved from Hard Ticks.

ID based on Trombicula alfreddugesi wikipedia photo and comparison to my photos of the species, which were much too tiny to be even larval ticks.

I'm having trouble seeing any detail at all in the wikipedia photo. This could be a chigger but tick larva is still a possibility too? Maybe an expert will chime in.

I agree...
I don't think the Wikipedia photo gives us much to go on, and I'm not sure that this should be moved--especially when our resident acarologist believes it to be a tick.

thank you!
and I feel your pain (after reading the account posted with your photos)... their bites are no fun at all.

Moved from Mites and Ticks.

Larval tick
6-legged larval tick, probably Amblyomma americanum.

--multiple bites from these tiny things are near torture. I find them (or they find me) by the tens and what seems like hundreds usually mid-late summer walking through woods or field. Ticks, even nymphal ones, larger than this I can sense, but not these guys... not until it is too late. they are the main reason I break out the DEET.

Moved for expert attention
Moved from ID Request.

My guess is tick--but it is just a guess. The experts will be able to say for sure.