Horrifying New Mite Found Lurking on Ohio State's Campus

By DJ Byrnes on February 21, 2014 at 12:35p

I did not wake up expecting to hit the entomology beat, but such are the daily twists involved in my job. 

I only post this terrifying tidbit of a new species of mite being discovered in the soil of a vacant OSU parking lot because these terrible new creatures COULD BE LURKING AROUND YOU RIGHT NOW. Take it away, PhD student Samuel Bolton:

I recently had the good fortune of discovering a new species of mite that looks bizarre enough to be no less suitable for science fiction than science reality. Luckier still, collecting it did not require an arduous and intrepid journey across hostile terrain to reach the location. I simply walked across the road from my workplace and fetched a soil sample from a neglected lot on the Ohio State University campus. The event was as lackluster as it was serendipitous.

The new species has a worm-like form that makes it immediately apparent that it belongs to the Nematalycidae — an enigmatic family of mites that are sometimes mistaken for nematodes. But the presence of long and unbranched body setae (hairs) readily distinguishes it from the four previously described species of nematalycids. Given how little we know about this family, I did not hesitate to accept an invitation from my collaborators, Ronald Ochoa and Gary Bauchan, to use their high-tech facilities at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Maryland in order to examine and describe Osperalycus tenerphagus — the first species and genus of Nematalycidae to be described in 40 years.

People wonder how I failed Biology in high school two times... stuff like this is a perfect example. It starts with dissecting frogs and then the next thing you know you're taking soil samples of vacant parking lots and considering your "good fortune" in unearthing horrifying new species. No thanks; I'm good.

I do not think I will sleep tonight, knowing these blood-suckers are out there, amassing their army and waiting to strike when humanity is at its absolute weakest. Good thing these tiny idiots don't have a nuclear bomb.


View 25 Comments