Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

FNZ 52 - Raphignathoidea (Acari: Prostigmata) - Popular summary

Fan, Q-H; Zhang, Z-Q 2005. Raphignathoidea (Acari: Prostigmata). Fauna of New Zealand 52, 400 pages.
( ISSN 0111-5383 (print), ; no. 52. ISBN 0-478-09371-3 (print) ). Published 20 May 2005

Popular summary

Raphignathoid mites

Mites of the superfamily Raphignathoidea are biological control agents of spider mites, eriophyid mites, and scale insects in agriculture and forestry. The majority of the species are free-living predators, but a few are phytophages, feeding on moss, and symbionts/parasites of insects.

The superfamily can be dated back at least 56 million years. It belongs to the supraorder Acariformes, order Prostigmata, and comprises about 770 species, and 57 genera in eleven families. They are worldwide in distribution, abundant in most of the geographical regions, and are even found in the Antarctic region.

They pass through five or six stages to complete their life cycles. The development from the egg to adult can be completed in 1 to 3 weeks. The males develop slightly faster than females. Their reproduction is arrhenotokous, meaning males result from unfertilised eggs. The sex ratio of offspring from mated females is female-biased.

As generalist predators, most raphignathoids show some degrees of prey preference. In addition to mites and small insects, they also feed on pollen, and can develop and reproduce on various kinds of pollens.

Taxonomic studies on this superfamily in New Zealand were initiated by Wood in the mid 1960s. Subsequently, he published a series of studies on Stigmaeidae (1966, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971b, 1971c, 1981). Luxton (1973) described three new species of the Cryptognathidae, and Bolland (1991) described a new species of the Camerobiidae. Fan & Zhang recently published two more articles on Stigmaeidae (2002a, 2002b).

In this contribution the mite superfamily Raphignathoidea (Acari: Prostigmata) is comprehensively revised. Keys to world families and genera are provided. The taxonomy, biology, and ecology of world Raphignathoidea are briefly reviewed so the 76 species, including 21 new species, now recognised from New Zealand can be placed in context. The species belong to 20 genera (including 1 new genus) and 5 families. All species are diagnosed, keyed, described, and illustrated, and notes are provided on the taxonomic references, habitats, and distribution of each species.