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Introduction

The Acariformes is one ofthe three major divisions of the Acari, the other two being theParasitiformes (including ticks) and the Opilioacariformes. There are morethan 30 000 described species of acariform mites, and they inhabit allimaginable biotic and abiotic habitats from hot springs to hydrothermalvents, from leaves to lizards, and from the ears of your pet cat to theeyebrows of your grandfather. They include such familiar scourges as dustmites, spider mites, scabies and chiggers, as well as a huge range oflesser-known parasites, predators, and fungivores. They are an ancientgroup of arachnids with representatives among the earliest assemblages ofterrestrial invertebrates (Rhynie chert, Gilboa formation) (e.g. Kethley etal. 1979).

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