EDUCATION: Mighty Mites

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Science  03 Aug 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5531, pp. 767
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5531.767d

Don't look now, but something is creeping through your eyebrows: tiny mites that even a shower won't dislodge. “There are good mites and there are bad mites,” says acarologist Ronald Ochoa of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Beltsville, Maryland. Although the denizens of your eyebrows are benign, other kinds of mites suck the life out of billions of dollars' worth of crops. And the varroa mite, a recent invader originally from Asia, has devastated beehives across the United States.

Meet some of these destructive arthropods at Ochoa's new Mites and Ticks: A Virtual Introduction. Besides describing agriculturally important groups of mites, the still-growing site showcases images taken with a low-temperature scanning electron microscope, which instantly freezes the mites with liquid nitrogen to capture them in action. This broad mite, for instance, was iced just as it was about to tuck into a juicy leaf.

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