Larval erythraeid mites are common ectoparasites of harvestmen (Opiliones). However, interactions between these mites and hosts in tropical environments have received little attention. In this study, we examined the prevalence and intensity of mite infestations for Neotropical harvestmen from the Caribbean island of Trinidad. Overall, the prevalence of infestation was 9.9%, with significant interspecific variation in the intensity of mite infestation and significant differences in parasitism of hosts between habitats. Harvestmen collected from lowland, crappo-cocorite forest exhibited the highest infestation rates. In our samples, the intensity of infestation varied from 1 to 17 mites per host. Examination by scanning electron microscopy revealed that harvestmen were infested by two taxa of mites, a species of Leptus and another unidentified erythraeid species. Our observations represent the first host records for erythraeid mites parasitizing harvestmen from the families Cranaidae and Manaosbiidae. Mites were found to attach preferentially to the tibia and femur of the leg (175 of 178 observations). In general, the harvestmen of Trinidad exhibited mite parasitism in a fashion similar to temperate species with respect to site of attachment and prevalence and intensity of mite infestation. In the field, we also collected an adult Cynortula sp. (Cosmetidae) that was transporting 30 gravid adults of an oribatid mite (Acariformes, Oribatida, Mixonomata). Cases of mite phoresy upon harvestmen are rare, with our observation representing the first report of phoresy by an oribatid mite upon a harvestman and the first documentation of mite phoresy upon harvestmen in the Caribbean.
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Vol. 101 • No. 6