Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Red Velvet Mite through the macro lens...

Rick and I spotted this fellow while walking along the Little Miami Trail near the river. For such a tiny little thing, he was conspicuously visible. His bright red color seemed to glow in the dark shadows of the hillside as he scurried around on a leaf at the base of a sycamore tree. I switched over to the macro lens Rick gave me for my birthday to see if I could photograph him. What a busy little mite he was. He went in and out of focus so quickly. These photos aren't the best, but they do show off his red velvet appearance.

...not to worry, this little guy does not like the taste of humans. He neither bites nor stings...and he most definitely will not try to suck your blood!

Red-velvet Mites live in the leaf litter and other damp areas of the woods. They are important to the environment and help speed up the decomposition process. Click here for a link to an article in Chicago Wilderness for more info.

...just like with brightly colored butterflies such as the Monarch or Pipevine Swallowtail, the Red-velvet Mite's red color is a warning to predators to stay away. Apparently they just don't taste good. I read a few references of scientists actually tasting a few of the mites, but I couldn't find any first-hand accounts (and although I am now curious to what kind of aftertaste these fellows would leave, rest assured mom...I won't be picking up any to taste-test myself!).

...love the segmented leg in this photo. I'm finding out macro photography is really cool. This Red-velvet Mite was no more than a millimeter, so those little segments are really tiny!

...don't you love those little lobster-like claws? They are actually mouthparts, and are therefore recognized as Chelicerates (a branch within the Arthropod Phylum). Click here for more info on Chelicerates. According to my "National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders," adult Red Velvet Mites eat insect eggs. The larvae are parasites and suck the blood from insects, spiders, daddy-long-legs and scorpions.

For a cool video of Red-velvet Mites scurrying around, drop by Wildcast.

If you're interested in the macro lens I was using, it's a Nikon Nikkor Lens, AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED. I have a lot to learn about macro photography...

37 comments:

Rebecca said...

I've seen those guys around - a lot of people seem to mistake them for chiggers, but they are definitely pretty striking when you spot them in the woods. Gorgeous photos!

charkstudios said...

Such a beautiful color these tiny creatures have. It almost looks like a stuffed cuddley toy one can put on bed when viewed up close like that....like from "Bug's Life" :)

Roy said...

Cool shots, Kelly! Yeah, macro lenses are tricky; the DOF is so flat it's easy to go out of focus. That's an awful small aperture at f/2.8 for a macro lens, though; most of them I've seen have been f/1.8 or f/1.4.

Jayne said...

Those photos are so cool Kelly! Great job capturing this little, t-niny guy!

Hilke Breder said...

Great shots!! Curious creature, looks like a miniature piece of upholstery. In the future I am going to have to keep my eye out for them.

Kelly said...

Rebecca...I read that a lot of people think they are chiggers too. They are pretty cool...

Charkstudios...that's what I thought. When I saw him crawling on the leaf I had no idea he was so velvety. Up close it was a "wow" moment!

Roy...yes, that's the prob I found. The DOF was so flat. I'll have to keep working on it. Thanks!

Jayne...thank you, ma'am! :-)

Hilke...you're so right. They really seem to have little tufts in their velvet surface, like they've been tacked together! Thank you!

Cherrie said...

wow some really cool close-up pictures!

holdingmoments said...

Amazing little insects Kelly.
Great captures with that new lens too.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Amazing photos, Kelly. Even the smallest, most insignificant-seeming creatures can be so interesting.

Montanagirl said...

Kelly, I think you did a great job with these photos. I've always liked playing around with macro shots. Amazing what you can see up close!

Warren Baker said...

its a fascinating world, the world of bugs. I wish I had more time to learn about them!

Interesting photo's Kelly

Jenny said...

Hi Kelly, I love little 'red'! (-: He's a real sweetie. By the way, I use the same lens. Great isn't it!? (-: but takes a bit of getting used to....

Chris said...

Hi Kelly,
This is a funny but also kind of scary animal!! We do not have them here it is too cold... Yeh Macro pictures are a word apart!!!

Felicia said...

He's certainly striking against that nice green leaf—but mites still creep me out!

Elaine said...

Very pretty little guy. It's amazing how different insects look when you take a closeup and then blow it up on your computer screen. All I can say is I'm glad they are tiny in real life and we don't have to look at those scary looking faces in a gigantic size staring back at us.

grammie g said...

I'm sorry Kelly but the little red guy weirded me out!!!:) :) They are great photo's though amazing to see such a little guy so up close!!!!!

Wanda said...

Great photos of a Red Velvet Mite, Kelly. I posted some back back in March too, just before our last snowfall I think, that bright red was so easy to spot on the fence rail. I thought it was a little red spider at first!

♥...Wanda

Donna M. Simonetti said...

Awesome photos & very informative. I learned something. Thanks

Steve Willson said...

Those guys stand out like little fiber optic lights. I've been seeing a lot of them this year. Great Shots.

Mary said...

Terrific macro shots! It does look very velvety and soft.

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Terrific shots, Kelly. I just love the red against the bright green leaf. I saw one of these while I was cleaning up leaf litter last week. It's neat to see it close up like this.

DK Miller said...

Great shots. I love the color and you managed to get great detail. Don't you just love macro lenses. Taking macro shots has definitely given me a new view of creepy crawlies.

Heather said...

Great photos, Kelly. Glad to see you exercising your macro muscles, hee hee! I've seen a couple of these glowing red bugs out and about myself. By the way, all the heron photos that you've posted recently have been FANTASTIC!!! Kudos to you and Rick both!

Kerri said...

That is the same Macro lens I use.
What FABULOUS shots you got!!
I am really learning to appreciate bugs!


Do you mind if I ask what settings you were using? And if you were using AutoFocus or Manual?

JRandSue said...

Lovely macro shots,magic.
John.

Bulldog Pottery said...

Hi Kelly,I love your images! The red mite is awesome, so are the birds. How cool to know that your folks were here in our shop!
I am so glad I found your blog. Can't wait to look through at your other images.

Sarah Knight said...

Wow, those are awesome close-ups!

Johnny Nutcase said...

fantastic macros of the itty bitty guy! wow! he looks soft and velvety! they wig me out a bit, but he looks great in this shots!

Laure Ferlita said...

Small and mighty with that glowing orangey-red color! Super cool, Kelly! Thanks for sharing.

Appalachian Lady said...

Great macro shots of a creature I don't know that I have seen. I will look for this mite among the leaf litter. Thanks for sharing.

Larry said...

Those macro-mite shots are so cool! I'm wondering if those are the same tiny little red critters I've seen around here? I used to love using a microscope when I was a kid-now I remember why.

Debbie Miller @HooootOwl said...

Wow! Great macro views of this teeeeny mite! Enjoyed your post.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone! I know what you mean....he's cool...he's colorful...he's velvety soft, but watching those little legs move around in that spidery way was a bit unnerving. Still...he's amazing.

HBFG said...

That is real macro photography! Great work, the mite looks like a giant!
I wish my lens could do things like that...
;-)

E said...

Very interesting, Kelly, glad they are kind creatures with humans, Great pics. Hugs

Amila Kanchana said...

Nice one!

sue said...

I am so glad I found your page! I discovered this little critter when trying to harvest the worm compost from my worm box. I am glad to learn that it is harmless, at least to my worms.