Red velvet mite (Dinothrombium; magnified about five times)—Anthony Bannister—The Natural History Photographic Agency/EB Inc.

Any of about 20,000 species of tiny arachnids (subclass Acari, sometimes Acarina or Acarida). Species range from microscopic to 0.25 in. (6 mm) long. Mites live in water and soil, on plants, and as plant and animal parasites. Both parasitic and nonparasitic forms transmit plant and animal diseases. Itch mites (family Sarcoptidae), which burrow into the skin of humans and animals, cause the highly contagious disease scabies. A few species transmit tapeworms to cattle. Grain mites (family Glycyphagidae) damage stored products and irritate the skin of those who handle the products. House dust allergy is caused by species of the common genus Dermatophagoides. See also chigger.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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