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New beetle-riding mites

Mites are one of the most species-rich groups of arachnids, but are very poorly known. There are likely to be well in excess of 20,000 species in Australia, only around 10% of which have been named.

Mites of the genus Megisthanus are predatory and associated with semi-colonial beetles that live in rotting logs. The mites don't prey on the beetles, but on other small arthropods that live in the decaying wood. They catch a ride between logs on the beetles. Megisthanus mites are remarkably large, growing to 5 mm long.

In a new paper in Zootaxa, mite taxonomist Owen Seeman from the Queensland Museum revises the megisthanid mites of Australia, describing five new species (to take the genus to eight species in all).

There's still a long way to go to document the mites of Australia.

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