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Red Velvet Mites

These very unusual creatures are known as Red Velvet Mites, are arachnids, belonging to the family Trombidiidae.  They look like little red velvet cushions running along the ground, with the hairs on their bodies acting like tiny feelers.  The species found in Zimbabwe have adults that measure between 1 and 1.5mm.  They are predatory creatures feeding on other invertebrates like termites, but are harmless to humans.  They have two tiny eyes, but they mainly search for their prey through vibrations, and their two front legs allow them to feel where they are going.  These mites appear after rain but are very sensitive to ecological factors so that not any kind of rainfall suits them, it has to be the right conditions for them to emerge. They only feed for a few hours every year, spending the rest of the time underground.  I found these little gems on the Kariba shoreline, in a sandy area just after a heavy downpour of rain.

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