All the snow and freezing temperatures the last few days have made Edmonton look more or less like it usually does on Christmas. So, here’s a Santa mite to ward off any more of the white stuff.
The mite actually looks pretty much exactly like the image – but that is because I laboriously drew in the long tail setae. The original image that Caroline Meacham and I first worked up many years ago was chopped off at the rear, but was still striking enough to be picked up by the old Science Netwatch column (Mad about mites. Netwatch (J. Kaiser, ed.). Science 286: 1047), and led to an exchange of information with my friend at the USDA, Ron Ochoa, that helped explain the function of those long setae out the rear.
You can see an even more beautiful image of a Tuckerella and a video of it in action at Ron’s Peacok Mite page. Check out the rest of the stunning low temperature SEM images in his galleries.
PS – I believe the video was taken by my former student and postdoc, Jenny Beard, who is now the leading specialist on Tuckerella. Hi Jenny, wherever you are out there, and where is that manuscript on the spider mite with the monster front legs?
Update: For anyone interested in seeing what a Tuckerella might inspire in an artist, check out this Ornamentomology exhibit page.