These organisms are called either mites or ticks, depending on the shape of their body and their lifestyle. The number of developmental stages and their complexity vary with the family. As a rule, the nymph and the adult are similar, except for the number of pairs of legs found on a newly hatched larva.
Their diet is highly varied. They may be phytophagous (plant feeders), zoophagous (predators and parasites), or saprophagous (detritivorous). They can be found in large numbers in a wide variety of habitats, depending on their diet. Most mites and ticks are terrestrial, but some live in ponds and even salt water. Those that parasitize animals or plants sometimes serve as vectors for the transmission of pathogens. In agricultural and forest environments, phytophagous species feed mainly on foliage and plant stems. A large number of saprophagous species live in the litter on the forest floor and in decomposing trees, thereby playing an important role in recycling organic matter. Predatory species are beneficial since they feed on the eggs and young stages of phytophagous insects and other mites and ticks. They can even be used as biocontrol agents in greenhouses and orchards.
Here are typical representatives of some families in this order. At least one species associated with these families is described in the site's fact sheets.
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