The family Tectocepheidae has a worldwide distribution and is one of the most common groups found in many habitats. These mites are pioneers and colonize barren or disturbed habitats.

The family Tectocepheidae includes two genera, 17 species and four subspecies (Subías 2023). In Norway, only the genus Tectocepheus Berlese, 1896 is present.


The adults are small (225–300 µm long) and brown. Their cuticle has characteristic granular cerotegument. The prodorsum has lamellae and long lamellar cusps, but translamella can be present or absent. The notogaster does not have a distinct border, but it has a pair of small pteromorphs and 10 (rarely 11) pairs of small notogastral setae. The legs have one claw (Weigmann 2006, Norton and Behan-Pelletier 2009, Behan-Pelletier and Lindo 2023).

Habitat and ecology

Some Tectocepheidae species, like Tectocepheus velatus (Michael, 1880) described here, are relatively eurytopic, which means that they occur in many different habitat types and are often numerous. They are found in moist to dry grasslands, in soil and litter of forests, heathlands, peatlands, and in ruderal habitats (Weigmann 2006). Tectocepheidae is among the earliest colonists of post-industrial dumps (Skubała 2004) and of new soil exposed by retreating glaciers (Hågvar et al. 2009).

The mites of this family are parthenogenetic (Maraun et al. 2019), which means that only females are present, and they are produced from unfertilized eggs. The time of development of two species has been studied in the laboratory (Pfingstl and Schatz 2021). The development from egg to adult lasted 102 days at 25° C in Tectocepheus sarekensis (Trägårdh, 1910) and in Tectocepheus velatus (Murphy and Jalil 1964), and 57–72 days at 16-20° C in Tectocepheus velatus (Grishina 1991). In the field conditions in Norway the development of Tectocepheus velatus from egg to adult lasted over two years (Solhøy 1975).


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