This Red Velvet Mite is of the genera Trombidium one of the many species in the Trombidiidae or Velvet Mite family. The body is covered in fine hairs giving it its 'velvety' appearance. It is usually found in the soil or mulch and feeds on vegetable matter. The larval stage which has six legs, is about one tenth of the size of the adult and lives on blood from animals and sometimes humans. As it feeds it releases an anticoagulant which can cause an allergic reaction resulting in a rash.
The adult mites have eight legs, they are not spiders nor insects, but a different Order of invertebrates, the Acari, with about 30,000 species of Mites and Ticks. These include the House Dust Mites whoes faeces cause asthma and the Ticks which transmit Lyme Disease.
The more notorious Red Spider Mite (Tetranychus urticae) which causes damage to plants, is a relative but is much smaller and for most of its life is not actually red apart from a short period in the autumn when they can be an orange-red colour.
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