Velvet Mite (Trombidium holosericeum)

A red velvet mite on a small twig. It has a fat body and 8 thin legs.

These fantastically bright coloured mites are part of the arachnid class but are not actually spiders, despite their eight legs. Often called rain bugs due to the way they tend to appear after the rain, these mites are incredibly small, with a body length of about 4mm. Their soft, bright red bodies are covered with fine hairs, giving them their velvety appearance and nickname. Their colour results from carotenoids (red, yellow and orange pigments which also give colour to carrots, corn, flamingos, and many others) which serve as a warning to predators about the toxicity of the mite.