DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Chigger, harvest mite larval ectoparasite (Trombicula sp.) on human epidermis (skin). Trombicula is a genus of harvest mites (also known as red bugs or berry bugs) from the Trombiculidae family. In their larval stage they are known as chiggers (or chigoe) and they attach to various animals, including humans, rabbits, toads, box turtles, quail, and even some insects. After crawling onto their hosts, they inject digestive enzymes into the skin that break down skin cells. They do not actually bite, but instead form a hole in the skin called a stylostome, and chew up tiny parts of the inner skin, thus causing severe irritation and swelling. This feeding process on skin causes severe itching. The larval stage is parasitic on humans and causes the disease called chigger dermatitis. Magnification: x34 when shortest axis printed at 25 millimetres.
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