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Acarina An order of small arthropods belonging to the class Arachnida and comprising the mites and ticks. There are over 30 000 described species, with perhaps 20 times this number still unknown, distributed worldwide in a wide variety of terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Many are free-living in soil or on vegetation, feeding on organic matter or preying on other small arthropods, while a significant number are parasites of plants and animals, including domesticated animals and humans. The adult body is generally globular or ovoid, with four pairs of legs. Unlike spiders, there is no `waist', the abdomen being fused to the more anterior prosoma. At the front of the body the capitulum bears the mouthparts, variously adapted for cutting, crushing, or piercing. The eggs hatch into a three-legged larva, which subsequently moults to a nymph resembling the adult. Ticks (up to 3 cm long) are ectoparasites of vertebrates, feeding on blood drawn through the skin of their host. They transmit a wide range of diseases, including certain forms of encephalitis and Lyme disease. Mites are much smaller (up to 4 mm long) and are parasitic or free-living. They tend to feed on feathers, hair, skin secretions, or skin debris, causing, for example, scabies in humans and mange in domesticated animals. The house-dust mite (Dermatophagoides) can provoke allergies or dermatitis. Spider mites are damaging parasites of plants and may infest some arable and greenhouse crops.

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Acarina (acari mites, ticks; class Arachnida) Order of small or very small arachnids most of which have a short, unsegmented abdomen. The body comprises the capitulum and a prosoma. In most forms the prosoma is covered by a single carapace (see CEPHALOTHORAX). The respiratory organs are tracheae. Many species are parasites of medical and veterinary importance, and many are agricultural pests. The Acarina are regarded by many zoologists as an unnatural, polyphyletic group comprising elements derived independently from different arachnid stocks. There are 20 000 known species, 2800 of which are aquatic, including some that are marine.