The juvenile stages of oribatid mites of the family Licnodamaeidae sensu lato are poorly known, and little information is available on the morphology of ontogenetic stages. Herein, the nymphs and exuvial scalps of two species, Pedrocortesella fusca (Rjabinin, 1986) and P. inaequalis (Balogh & Mahunka, 1965) are described and illustrated. The nymphs are generally similar in their habitus. Basic characteristics of nymphs are: the lightly sclerotized and unpigmented body, slightly stockier than adults with tuberculate cerotegument; lateral sides of body as well as epimeral and anogenital regions are distinctly folded; nine (c1–c3, lp, h1, h2, p1–p3) or eight pairs of gastronotic setae (setae c2 absent in P. inaequalis); conspicuously concaved or nearly rounded posterior end of gastronotum; exuvial scalps with slightly folded reticulate sculpture, without adherent materials, lightly fastened to gastronotum of nymphs, but their adults do not carry exuvial scalps. Both are Palaearctic species, currently known from Eastern Europe, Central and Eastern Asia, and appear to be primarily inhabitants of soil and litter; they prefer xeric habitats, such as forest-steppe, steppe, semi-desert and dwarf semi-shrub desert. Additionally, comparative analyses of juvenile stages of species belonging to Licnodamaeidae sensu lato as well as Licnobelbidae are given based on our own data and available literature sources.
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Vol. 21 • No. 4