Systematic & Applied Acarology entered a new chapter in its development in 2011 (Zhang 2011), including the introduction of a colour cover which has received positive responses from authors and readers. To continue this, we invite authors to send us good colour images of mites for consideration of publication on the cover. There is no fee for publication of cover images and this presents an excellent opportunity for authors as colour images are normally expensive and difficult to publish elsewhere. From this issue, we initiate a series of short correspondence for the story behind the cover image. We welcome future authors to submit a paragraph or two about the images.
The images featured on the cover of this issue show the interesting clustering behaviour of Neotropacarus bakeri (Collyer, 1967) on leaves of karaka (Corynocarpus laevigatus; Corynocarpaceae) in Auckland, New Zealand. This mite species was first described by Collyer (1967), but there have been no subsequent reports since. Collyer (1967) reported this mite from 16 species of plants in the north of the South Island and also various parts of the North Island. The record from karaka is a new host record.
Collyer (1967) noted that this species “lives in compact colonies comprising a central cluster of eggs surrounded by immatures and adults orientated with their bodies facing inwards” (see cover images). Her observations—that these mites “are usually on the ventral leaf surface, often in slight hollows, and the groups are widely scattered”—are confirmed in this study. It was also observed that wandering immature mites and adults, when placed on a new leaf, formed new clusters on the lower leaf surface. Cunliffe (1964) stated that the type species of this genus, N. mumai, is fungivorous. We also observed N. bakeri breeding on fungi cultured on PDA inoculated with small pieces of karaka leaves.
I thank Dr Nick Martin (Landcare Research, Auckland) for collecting the karaka leaves on which N. bakeri was rediscovered, Dr Qinghai Fan (Ministry for Primary Industries, Auckland) for identifying the mite species and Dr Owen Seeman (Queensland Museum, Australia) for comments.