Trombidium holosericeum

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Trombidium holosericeum
Trombidium holosericeum LC0127.jpg
Adult T. holosericeum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Subclass: Acari
Order: Trombidiformes
Family: Trombidiidae
Genus: Trombidium
Species: T. holosericeum
Binomial name
Trombidium holosericeum
(Linnaeus, 1758)

Acarus holosericeus

1896 description of Trombidium holosericeum

Trombidium holosericeum is a species of mite in the genus Trombidium, commonly called the velvet mite.


The harvestman Phalangium opilio with a parasitic mite larva attached to its leg, probably T. holosericeum

This species is one of the largest mites in northern temperate zones, with a body length of about 4 mm. The soft, brightly red body is covered with fine hairs, giving it a velvety appearance. The small eyes are located on stalks. They have scissor-like chelicerae, their pedipalps are used as touch organs.

Its bright red color results from carotenoids, warning predators about the toxicity of the mite (aposematism). Almost nothing is known about the toxic substances used, but they are probably contained within the integument.

The specific epithet is derived from Ancient Greek holo "whole" and seric- "silken".


While adults live freely and are often found wandering about, searching for small animals and insect eggs for food, the larvae try to find a host to attach themselves to, often an insect like a grasshopper or diptere, but also arachnids like harvestmen or spiders. At this stage they are seen as red globules on their hosts, sucking body liquid without severely harming the host. These larvae then develop into free-living nymphs that resemble adults.

T. holosericeum is a palearctic species.


  • Synopsis of the described Arachnida of the World: Trombidiidae
  • Bellmann, Heiko: Spinnentiere Europas. Kosmos, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-440-09071-X (German)

Further reading[edit]

  • Mąkol, J. & Wohltmann, A. (2000): A redescription of Trombidium holosericeum (Linnaeus, 1758) (Acari: Actinotrichida: Trombidioidea) with characteristics of all active instars and notes on taxonomy and biology. Annales Zoologici 50(1): 67-91.