Parasitic Mites On An Olephene

Images made through a microscope. All subject types.

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Walter Piorkowski
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Parasitic Mites On An Olephene

Post by Walter Piorkowski »

Image

Image

Image

Image

Leitz Ortholux microscope
4X Leitz projection eyepiece plus 1/3x relay lens

Image No. 1, 64 images at .002 inch increments, Leitz 4x Plan Fluorite

Image No. 2, 29 images at .002 inch increments, Leitz 4x Plan Fluorite

Image No. 3, 29 images at .002 inch increments, Leitz 4x Plan Fluorite

Image No. 4, 48 images at 5 micron increments, Olympus 10x S PlanAchromat


Diffused Fiber Optic illumination
Canon 50D
Zerene PMax and Photoshop processing.

On a recent canyon hike I came across a hapless Harvestmen with some nasty mites sucking its guts out. An eight legged spiderlike creature, the Harvestmen is called a Olephene, distinguishing it from the arachnids. Images No. 1, 2, and 4 are these same subject. Image 3 is smaller and seams to just be getting started on its disgusting feeding habit.

Although my first experience at seeing such a thing, it appears to be more common than I was aware when looking at internet posts. Image 4 shows the flesh piercing mouth part between two other mouth components and slightly to the rear. The mite is so engorged it looks more like a balloon than a living creature. Of most interest to me is the fact that this mouth piece supports the hole critter. Its legs cannot even reach the host once it has reached this swollen state.

Walt

Charles Krebs
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Post by Charles Krebs »

Walt,

Excellent images... unpleasant :wink: , but nice :wink:

(after working with something like this it's hard not to notice every little "sensation" on my skin :shock:)

RogelioMoreno
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Post by RogelioMoreno »

Nice set!

Rogelio

Walter Piorkowski
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Post by Walter Piorkowski »

Thank you guys. I know what you mean about that itchy feeling Charles.
I get the same way knowing that they could just as easily be working their way up from my shoes.
Walt

Rylee Isitt
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Post by Rylee Isitt »

How generalist are these mites? I've seen mites on many insects in the lab, and they are frequently an annoyance (although an interesting one) as they can affect the health of insects used for research purposes. From a human health point of view, though, I've never really been too concerned with them transferring hosts to us. They latch on to their host very tightly, and I am not sure if they'd consider a human an equally viable food source.

I've been bitten by mites, but I'm guessing that the kind which stays attached to insects is not the same kind that bites humans. The ones that bite humans usually take their meal and leave.

As far as symptoms go, the bites are much more itchy than mosquito bites even though they don't swell up. The bites itch so much that once you've scratched them to the point of pain, it feels good in comparison.

For what amounts to a tiny orange/red dot in our day-to-day experience, it's amazing the detail you can get out of good macro gear. There's a bit of haloed that you can probably touch up, but otherwise these are very nice images. Thanks for sharing!

Walter Piorkowski
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Post by Walter Piorkowski »

Hi Rylee. Thank you for your interest in my images. I am not certain what your use of the word “generalist” is, but if you mean “common”, I really don’t know. I have been crawling around in the woods for a good 45 years looking at plants, insects, etc. and have never seen these mites before.

As an entomologist, I don’t know if you consider mites the same as ticks. I have had many ticks on my person over the years. At the nymph phase, they can be pretty small. These mites are much smaller and if they do indeed feed from humans, they would be hard to detect, unless they would itch.

Regarding the images themselves, they are done through the microscope not macro.

The Harvestman was well aware of the mite presence and was twitching its legs constantly. This muscle / nerve reaction continued on long after the subject was put to sleep. As a result, the images were very difficult to do and many were scrapped. For hours the legs of the Harvestman, that they were attached to, would slowly move. This was not visible to the naked eye but painfully apparent under magnification. Especially the 10x objective shots like image 4. Image stacking cannot tolerate this. Hence, some of the halo that you see.

Walt

Rylee Isitt
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Post by Rylee Isitt »

Hi Walter,

By generalist, I mean host specificity - whether they feed only on arthropods like insects and harvestmen, or whether they'll go for birds and mammals as well.

Mites and ticks are closely related but different groups. They are considered arachnids and are both in the same subclass (Acari), which is all things considered still a fairly high-level grouping, so even withing Acari there is likely a great deal of variation.

Since I do "macro" with microscope objectives on occasion, as is common on this forum, I no longer consider there to be a distinction between high magnification "macro" and low magnification "micro" photography. I think this forum has created a lot of grey areas for me. Your shots at 10x, for instance... I would put those well within the area of macrophotography, regardless of the equipment used. With a 20x objective, that's probably more micro than macro, but who knows. At any rate, using a microscope is no necessarily the deciding factor ;)

Walter Piorkowski
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Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2006 6:42 pm
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Post by Walter Piorkowski »

Thank you Rylee. I will add that info and a new word to my vocabulary.

Regarding the macro, micro issue, I have to agree that it is a gray area. I have objectives for my microscope as low as 1x and when I put those low ones in I know I will be unable to post to people on the macro forums that would probably find the image of more interest.
However I have enjoyed this forum for a long time and will follow the rules. It is also so convenient to have the subject on the stage so those higher objectives can be swung in.

Best regards, Walt

Rylee Isitt
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Post by Rylee Isitt »

No worries - I did not mean to question whether or not you were following the rules!

Maybe I should look at the posting guidelines to see what they actually are on this matter. I've become more than a little confused as to what is macro and what is micro...

Edit: well, no specific guidelines seem to exist on this matter, that I could find in the posting guidelines topic. Interesting. I guess I'll just have to go with my gut, and know that if I take photos of microorganisms at 10x, they go in this forum, while butterfly wings at 40x go in the macro forum! :lol:

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