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Concept: Harvest mite


Chigger mites are parasites of rodents and other vertebrates, invertebrates, and other arthropods, and are the only vectors of scrub typhus, in addition to other zoonoses. Therefore, investigating their distribution, diversity, and seasonal abundance is important for public health. Rodent surveillance was conducted at 6 districts in Shandong Province, northern China (114-112°E, 34-38°N), from January to December 2011. Overall, 225/286 (78.7%) rodents captured were infested with chigger mites. A total of 451 chigger mites were identified as belonging to 5 most commonly collected species and 3 genera in 1 family. Leptotrombidium scutellare and Leptotrombidium intermedia were the most commonly collected chigger mites. L. scutellare (66.2%, 36.7%, and 49.0%) was the most frequently collected chigger mite from Apodemus agrarius, Rattus norvegicus, and Microtus fortis, respectively, whereas L. intermedia (61.5% and 63.2%) was the most frequently collected chigger mite from Cricetulus triton and Mus musculus, respectively. This study demonstrated a relatively high prevalence of chigger mites that varied seasonally in Shandong Province, China.

Concepts: Rat, Murinae, Rodent, Mouse, Acari, Arachnid, Muroidea, Harvest mite


Scrub typhus is a lethal human disease transmitted by larval trombiculid mites (i.e., chiggers) that have been infected with the rickettsia Orientia tsutsugamushi. In total, 21 chigger species are known from Taiwan. We update the checklist of chiggers of Taiwan based on an intensive survey of shrew and rodent hosts in grasslands and agricultural fields in lowland Taiwan, coupled with surveys of forests in one mountainous site and an opportunistic examination of submitted host specimens. Three new species of chiggers, Gahrliepia (Gateria) lieni sp. n., Gahrliepia (Gateria) minuta sp. n., and Gahrliepia (Gateria) yilanensis sp. n., as well as 23 newly recorded chigger species, were discovered. Accordingly, recorded chigger species of Taiwan more than doubled from 21 to 47 species. Two new species and nine newly recorded chigger species were discovered in forests in one mountainous site in northeastern Taiwan, suggesting that many more chigger species may be uncovered, particularly in mountainous Taiwan. Further studies should also investigate O. tsutsugamushi infection in different chigger species to assess its risks to human health.

Concepts: Rickettsia, Acari, Typhus, Trombiculidae, Scrub typhus, Orientia tsutsugamushi, Harvest mite, Gahrliepia


Chigger mites of Thailand were studied on the basis of larvae collected from 19 small mammal species (17 species of Rodentia, 1 species of Erinaceomorpha, and 1 species of Scandentia) and revision of published data. Samples of 38 trombiculid species were collected from 11 provinces. Three new species were described: Trombiculindus kosapani sp. nov., Helenicula naresuani sp. nov., and Walchia chavali sp. nov. Ten species were recorded in Thailand for the first time: Leptotrombidium sialkotense Vercammen-Grandjean and Langston, 1976; Leptotrombidium subangulare Wen and Xiang, 1984; Leptotrombidium tenompaki Stekolnikov, 2013; Leptotrombidium turdicola Vercammen-Grandjean and Langston, 1976; Leptotrombidium yunlingense Yu, Yang, Zhang and Hu, 1981; Lorillatum hekouensis Yu, Chen and Lin, 1996; Helenicula pilosa (Abonnenc and Taufflieb, 1957); Gahrliepia xiaowoi Wen and Xiang, 1984; Walchia minuscuta Chen, 1978; and Walchia ventralis (Womersley, 1952). In all, 99 chigger mite species were considered; the presence of 93 species was established in Thailand by original data or properly documented records in the scientific literature. Evidence for 64 species records of 147 from a previous checklist of Thai chiggers (Tanskul 1993) remains unknown. Distribution of chigger species by geographical regions of Thailand is discussed.

Concepts: Mammal, Acari, Mite, Trombiculidae, March 4, Harvest mite, 1903, Leptotrombidium


Diversity of chigger mites causing trombiculiasis of domestic animals and humans in Europe is greatly underestimated. A number of reports on the attacks of “harvest mite” (Neotrombicula autumnalis) could be based on misidentified chiggers from other species and genera. In this study descriptions of two cases of trombiculiasis are presented, which constitute the first report on the pets' parasitism by the chigger genus Ericotrombidium in Europe. The species Ericotrombidium ibericense is for the first time reported in Portugal as a causative agent of the trombiculiasis entailed extensive alopecic lesions and pruritus in a cat. Ericotrombidium geloti is for the first time reported as a cause of canine trombiculiasis in Crimea. Presence of other Ericotrombidium species on man and domestic animals is highly probable in countries of the Mediterranean basin.

Concepts: Species, Acari, Trombiculidae, Prostigmata, Harvest mite, Trombicula, Neotrombicula, Trombicula autumnalis


Trombiculid mites (or chigger mites) are a large group of arthropods, and some of these species are vectors of Orientia tsutsugamushi, the causative agent of tsutsugamushi disease (scrub typhus). Yunnan Province is situated in the southwest of China, and its complicated topography, special altitude gradients, and high biodiversity have aroused the interest of many scientists to study the fauna and species diversity of plants and animals. To replenish our former faunal study, this paper listed all the scientific names of trombiculid mites in Yunnan Province, together with their hosts and collection sites (geographical distribution). A total of 120,138 individuals of trombiculid mites were collected from the body surface of 13,760 small mammal hosts (89.06 % of them are rodents) in 29 collection sites (counties) of Yunnan Province from 2001 to 2013. The 120,138 mites were identified as comprising 2 families (Trombiculidae and Leeuwenhoekiidae), 26 genera, and 274 species. The genus Leptotrombidium had the most abundant species (109 species) of 26 genera. Of the six main vectors of scrub typhus in China, five of them were found in Yunnan. Of the 274 chigger mite species, 23 were determined as the newly recorded species (new records), which were found in Yunnan Province for the first time. The identified 274 species of trombiculid mites in the present paper are much more than those from other provinces in China and even largely exceeded the species of trombiculid mites recorded from some other regions and countries in the world. Based on the formula of Chao 1, the total number of chigger mite species in Yunnan was approximately estimated to be 346 species, and about 72 species might have been missed in our sampling process.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Mammal, Yunnan, Kunming, Southwest China, Scrub typhus, Orientia tsutsugamushi, Harvest mite


Conventional gold standard characterization of chigger mites involves chemical preparation procedures (i.e. specimen clearing) for visualization of morphological features, which however contributes to destruction of the arthropod host DNA and any endosymbiont or pathogen DNA harbored within the specimen.

Concepts: Biology, Molecule, Acari, Arachnid, Trombiculidae, Harvest mite


We document chigger mite (Acari: Trombiculidae) ectoparasitic infestation (prevalence and intensity) on a population of Catharus ustulatus (Turdidae) wintering at a site in southeastern Peru undergoing development for natural gas exploration (PAD A). We compare prevalence (i.e., the proportion of individuals infested by chigger mites) and intensity (i.e., the average number of larvae and larvae clusters in infested individuals) at forest edge (< 100 m) and interior (> 100 m) from PAD A, as variation in biotic (e.g., vegetation cover) and abiotic (e.g., relative humidity and temperature) factors are expected to influence chigger mite abundance. Chigger mite prevalence was 100% - all C. ustulatus captured were infested regardless of distance. The range of variation in larvae (2-72 larvae/individual) and cluster intensity (1-4 clusters/individual) did not differ between edge and interior (P > 0.05), despite differences in herbaceous vegetation cover (UM-W = 180, n = 30, 31; P < 0.01). Ectoparasitic prevalence and intensity in long-distance migratory birds might add risks to an already hazardous journey, as ectoparasitic variation and other selective pressures experienced by individuals at each locality may not only be a cause of within-site mortality but by affecting the physical condition of birds it may be carry over to subsequent sites, affecting reproductive success and survival. Documenting ectoparasitism at any phase of the life cycle of migrants could improve understanding of population declines of migratory birds.

Concepts: Natural selection, Relative humidity, Acari, Arachnid, Mite, Catharus, Harvest mite, Swainson's Thrush


Examination of host-associated variation in the chigger mite Hirsutiella zachvatkini (Schluger) revealed morphological differences among larvae infesting sympatric hosts: Apodemus agrarius, Apodemus flavicollis and Myodes glareolus. The analysis included 61 variables of larvae obtained from their gnathosoma, idiosoma and legs (measurements and counts). Statistically significant differences were observed for metric characters of the legs as opposed to the scutum. In view of the conspecificity of the mites, supported by comparison of COI gene products obtained from larvae and laboratory-reared deutonymphs, the observed variation is attributed to phenotypic plasticity. The knowledge of larval morphology, including intraspecific variation of metric characters, supported by molecular and host range data, places H. zachvatkini among the most comprehensively defined members of Trombiculidae.

Concepts: Statistical significance, Acari, Arachnid, Trombiculidae, Old World rats and mice, Apodemus, Harvest mite, Hirsutiella


An investigation of chigger mites on the large oriental vole, Eothenomys miletus (Rodentia: Cricetidae), was conducted between 2001 and 2013 at 39 localities across southwest China, and 2463 individuals of the vole hosts were captured and examined, which is a big host sample size. From the body surface of E. miletus, 49,850 individuals of chigger mites were collected, and they were identified as comprising 175 species, 13 genera, and 3 subfamilies in 2 families (Trombiculidae and Leeuwenhoekiidae). The 175 species of chigger mites from such a single rodent species (E. miletus) within a certain region (southwest China) extremely exceeded all the species of chigger mites previously recorded from multiple species of hosts in a wide region or a whole country in some other countries, and this suggests that E. miletus has a great potential to harbor abundant species of chigger mites on its body surface. Of 175 mite species, Leptotrombidium scutellare was the most dominant species, which has been proved as one of the main vectors of scrub typhus and the potential vector of haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) in China. The patchiness index (m*/m) was used to measure the spatial patterns of the dominant chigger mite species, and all the three dominant mite species (L. scutellare, Leptotrombidium sinicum, and Helenicula simena) showed aggregated distributions among the different host individuals. The coefficient of association (V) was adopted to measure the interspecies interaction between the dominant mite species and a slightly positive association existed between L. scutellare and L. sinicum (V = 0.28, P < 0.01), which implies that these two mite species can co-exist on the same species of the host, E. miletus. The tendency curve of species abundance showed that the number of chigger mite species gradually decreased with the increase of mite individuals, and this revealed that most chigger mite species were rare with very few individuals, but few dominant species had abundant individuals. The species-sample relationship indicated that the number of chigger mite species increased with the increase of the host samples. The results suggest that a big host sample size over a wide realm of geographical regions is needed in the field investigation in order to obtain a true picture of species diversity and species composition.

Concepts: Species, Rodent, Acari, Abundance, Region, Species richness, Trombiculidae, Harvest mite


A new chigger mite genus Laotrombicula n. g. and two new species, Laotrombicula khunboromi n. sp. (type-species) and L. fangumi n. sp., are described from the Laotian rock-rat Laonastes aenigmamus Jenkins, Kilpatrick, Robinson & Timmins (Rodentia: Diatomyidae). The new genus is most similar to Trombiculindus Radford, 1948 and Leptotrombidium Nagayo, Miyagawa, Mitamura & Imamura, 1916 and differs from these genera by having the scutum of subhexagonal or semicircular shape vs widely rectangular; pinnatifid dorsocentral idiosomal setae vs foliaceous in Trombiculindus and unexpanded in Leptotrombidium; and by the presence of serrated longitudinal crests in the middle part of scutum.

Concepts: Species, Genus, Acari, Arachnid, Mite, Acarina, Trombiculidae, Harvest mite