Submitted to: BARC Poster Day
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 28, 2000
Publication Date: N/A
Mites are microscopic in size and fragile in nature, consequently scientists estimate that less than ten percent of species have been described. For this reason, the scanning electron microscope (SEM) has been used for several years to complement the data on mite morphology that has been historically obtained with the light microscope. However, the preparation techniques associated with traditional slide-mounting and SEM frequently prevent or compromise the results. The current study, evaluates the use of low temperature (LT) SEM for examination of mite images. With this technique, scientists can observe frozen hydrated mites at magnifications of more than 50,000 times. This enables them to describe the detailed three-dimensional structure of mites and to postulate functions for their sensorial organs. Recently, staff in the Systematic Entomology Laboratory and the Nematology Laboratory demonstrated the advantages of LT-SEM to distinguish and characterize different types of setae found on mites. During this study, one highly specialized type of setae, known as a bothridial seta, actively reacted to the electron beam of the SEM. This unusual phenomenon suggested that this seta might also react to electro-magnetic fields in the natural environment and thereby help the mite locate a food source or avoid a predator. If this observation proves true, artificial fields could be generated to confuse or disorient mites and thereby reduce the damage that they cause to man and agriculture. This information may also have application to sensory detection in other harmful species of arthropods.