You can add this to things I learned on the internet: the largest species of mite in the world can be found in Indiana.

Spot of Red in the Leaf Litter

I was recently scrolling through my Facebook timeline when I encountered a post in the group All Bugs Go to Kevin that caught my attention. The post included two photos of some leaf litter with a bright red little blob with legs right in the middle of the brown and decaying leaves.

Forest Finds in Grovertown, Indiana

The post, shared publicly by a member of the group read: "Was pulling invasive plants from my forest and saw something red in the leaves on the forest floor. Possibly Trombidium Holocericeum? Is it an arachnid? A mite? Grovertown, Indiana"

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Leggy Red Blob in the Leaves


So what exactly was this leggy little red blob? Other members of the group were able to quickly identify it as a red velvet mite, but more specifically what was captured in the photographs, was a giant red velvet mite.

attachment-Giant Red Velvet Mites (1)

Giant Red Velvet Mites Call Indiana Home

Now at this point, I am in full ADHD deep dive because I did not know that such a thing as a giant red velvet mite even existed, much less that they could be found in Indiana. Upon further investigation, I have learned that the giant red velvet mite is not an insect, but actually classifies as an arachnid.

READ MORE: Indiana is Home to a Cannibalistic Predator: Meet the Dragonhunter

The Largest Mite in the World

Not only are they arachnids, but giant red velvet mites are the largest mite in the world! In addition to being the largest species of mite on the planet, they spend a lot of their time hibernating in silk-lined caverns underground. When they do come out, which is usually after spring and summer rains, they will hunt for ants and termites.

Giant Red Velvet Mites Taste Like "Quinine with Habanero"

Giant red velvet mites do not have a lot of predators. As it turns out, they don't taste good. Scientist Justin Schmidt, who has spent 30 years studying these mites, shared in an interview with The University of Arizona that they taste "astringent" and said they are
"kind of a sharp, unpleasant, spicy flavor. It was like mixing quinine with habanero." How does Schmidt know what they taste like? He bit into one.

Very Little Is Known of Giant Red Velvet Mites

There is not a lot known regarding the biology of giant red velvet mites because they spend such a short amount of time above ground. However, as I mentioned Schmidt has spent the better part of three decades studying these creatures and he and his wife have published a scientific paper detailing all that they have learned through their studies. You can find it here.

READ MORE: What Is An Ootheca and What Insect Makes Them?

More About All Bugs Go To Kevin

If you are unfamiliar with All Bugs Go to Kevin, it is a Facebook page dedicated to the identification (and appreciation) of bugs and all they do for our ecosystem. Incidentally, Kevin is very much a real person, and he is from Evansville, Indiana.

All Bugs Go to Kevin is a community where, whether medically significant or not, there is an emphasis on the benefits spiders, insects, and other arthropods in the environment and/or their role in nature.

If you would like to learn more about All Bugs Go to Kevin, check them out on Facebook or just keep scrolling.

All Bugs Go To Kevin

Kevin Wiener of Evansville, creator of the Facebook group "All Bugs Go To Kevin," captures astounding photos of insects that will both amaze you and inspire you to think differently about the world's smallest creatures.

Gallery Credit: Melissa Nelson

LOOK: 20 of the biggest insects in the world

Stacker compiled a list of 20 of the biggest insects in the world using a variety of news, scientific, and other sources.

Gallery Credit: Andrea Vale

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