Laelaptoseius: a poorly-known endemic mite illuminates its superfamily

Matthew Shaw *1

1 Canterbury Museum, Rolleston Ave, Christchurch 8013

The enigmatic New Zealand mite Laelaptoseius novaezelandiae Womersley 1960 is found in litter habitats on the North and South islands. Nothing is known of its biology, but it is probably a predator of springtails or nematodes.  It has been placed in two different superfamilies since its description, however, none of its previous placements are here considered satisfactory. Even its name spells out this confusion.  The prefix refers to the family Laelapidae in the Superfamily Dermanyssoidea whereas its stem –seius is usually reserved for mites in the Ascoidea.  I argue for its placement in yet another superfamily (Eviphidoidea) and this new placement is based on a re-interpretation of the ventral shields of various Eviphidoidea.  This example shows how homology assessment can detect instances of convergence and reveal new systematic and biogeographic patterns.

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