140/150: Don’t Let the Scabies Mite Bite!

Animalia: Arthropoda: Arachnida: Sarcoptiformes: Sarcoptidae: Sarcoptes: Sarcoptes scabiei (Linnaeus, 1758)

Unfortunately, bite isn’t all that they do. Sarcoptes scabiei is a type of mite that burrows into the epidermis of the skin in humans and multiple other animals. In order to penetrate the skin, scabies mites secrete a pool of what is presumably saliva around their body, their outer layer dissolves, and as it sinks into the skin, their legs seem to move in a digging like motion until they become completely submerged. Mating takes place only once and leaves the female fertile for the rest of her life so as the female burrows, they simultaneously deposit eggs. The female remains in the skin and continues to lengthen her burrow and lay eggs for the rest of her 1 to 2-month life. This infestation is better known as scabies, it creates an itchy red rash on the surface of the skin and can last for months if left untreated. Interestingly, scabies is actually one of the first diseases in humans for which the cause was known and to this day, at any given time, there are approximately 130 million cases of scabies in the world! #Canada150 #Biodiversity150

Collected from a red fox afflicted with mange: BIOUG30677-F04 – Ontario, Canada. Photo Credit: CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics
Sarcoptes scabiei specimen under microscope. Photo Credit: Kalumet goo.gl/5MePym
A scabies mite burrowing into the skin while depositing eggs. Photo Credit: W. Linsenmaier goo.gl/UfaePZ
Day 7 of scabies on right hand. Photo Credit: No author available goo.gl/1XcEtk

Here’s the barcode sequence information for this species:

Process ID: BBAM007-16

nucleotide sequence


amino acid sequence


Visual representation of DNA barcode sequence for Scabies mite

Learn more about it’s BIN (Barcode Index Number): BOLD:ACQ1853

135/150: This tiny mite can cause massive damage!

Animalia: Arthropoda: Arachnida: Trombidiformes: Tetranycinae: Tetranychinae: Tetranychus: Tetranychus urticae (C. L. Kock, 1836)

The two-spotted spider mite is of economic importance as it is a common pest worldwide.  It has been found to feed on more than 1,100 different species of plants! Including important crops such as maize, soy, citrus, apples, tomatoes, strawberries, and peppers. By sucking the cell contents from leaves, the mite leaves small lesions that in large numbers will reduce the photosynthetic capabilities of plants. It is highly resistant to pesticides so researchers sequenced its entire genome in 2011 to understand its biology to create more effective pesticides.

These mites are barely visible to the naked eye at 0.4 mm long and comes in many colours including brown, orange, and green. It is named for the two spots located symmetrically on each side of its back. These spots are actually the buildup of body waste that can be seen through the mite’s transparent body wall. Like all spider mites, the two-spotted variety can spin fine strands of web. #Canada150 #Biodiversity150

Specimen BIOUG08419-E08 – Wellington County, Guelph, Ontario, Canada – 30-May-2013. Photo Credit: CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics
Web of the spider mite Tetranycus urticae. Photo Credit: University of Florida goo.gl/6jokcW
Colorized scanning electron microscope image of Tetranychus urticae. Photo Credit: Eric Erbe and Chris Pooley goo.gl/6jokcW
Eggs of the spider mite Tetranychus urticae. Photo Credit: Gilles San Martin goo.gl/65c6Cm

Here’s the barcode sequence information for this species:

Process ID: MBIOC060-13

nucleotide sequence


amino acid sequence


Visual representation of DNA barcode sequence for Two-spotted spider mite

Learn more about it’s BIN (Barcode Index Number): BOLD:ABY3244

68/150: Did you know scorpions live in Canada too?

animalia: Arthropoda: Arachnida: Scorpiones: Vaejovidae: Paruroctonus: Paruroctonus boreus (Girard, 1854)

Paruroctonus boreus, or the Northern Scorpion, is native to British Columbia and Alberta and is the only species of scorpion found in Canada. Though a relatively common species, it is rarely seen due to its nocturnal nature. However, like all scorpions, P. boreus glows under black light due to fluorescent compounds found in its exoskeleton and can be found in the field by using a hand-held UV lamp. Continue reading “68/150: Did you know scorpions live in Canada too?”

67/150: Not Poisonous, and Not a Spider! The friendly backyard “Daddy-Long-Legs”

animalia: Arthropoda: Arachnida: Opiliones: Sclerosomatidae: Leiobunum: Leiobunum vittatum (Say, 1821)

Harvestmen or “Daddy-long-legs” are commonly presented as “the most venomous spiders in the world, with fangs too short to bite”, but this is a myth! Although they are in the same class as spiders, mites and scorpions, (Arachnida), they are not true spiders. Continue reading “67/150: Not Poisonous, and Not a Spider! The friendly backyard “Daddy-Long-Legs””

41/150: Everything you’ve been wanting to know about ticks!

animalia: Arthropoda: Arachnida: Ixodida: Ixodidae: Ixodinae: Ixodes: Ixodes scapularis (Say, 1821)

The blacklegged, or deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) is widely known as the tick species to spread Lyme disease, a bacterial infection of Borrelia burgdorferi.  This species of tick has a distribution throughout Eastern North America, through to southern Ontario. Continue reading “41/150: Everything you’ve been wanting to know about ticks!”

Spider Ground Control to Arachnid One

Hi everyone,

I just returned from a week of aquatic sampling at Point Pelee National Park and have much to share. The peninsula that is Point Pelee is the most southern part of Canada and it is revered as one of the best spots in North America to observe the spring migration of songbirds. The park itself exists largely due to the efforts of W.E. Saunders who arrived at Point Pelee in 1882 with the intention of duck hunting. Continue reading “Spider Ground Control to Arachnid One”

A little ticked off

Hey folks!

This past week I had been doing some standardized sampling again in the rare Charitable Research Reserve with some of my co-workers.  It was a great week for weather so it made the field work even more enjoyable! I have been going to rare quite a bit recently and every now and then I involuntarily bring home a very small hitchhiker. These hitchhikers are better known by the common name ticks, and they are a very important topic! Continue reading “A little ticked off”

A Mitey Start

Hello everyone, my name is Nathaniel Jones. This is my first blog of the summer. I am currently getting started on my new position here at BIO. I was fortunate enough to land the summer Undergraduate Research Assistantship position to sample the soil for arthropod diversity. So far this week I have just been getting started, learning a lot about the techniques of sampling small soil arthropods. Some of the mites are so tiny I am unable to use forceps, as they are almost microscopic and hard to distinguish from grains of sand. Continue reading “A Mitey Start”