Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps

Higher Taxon Acari

Compiler and date details

31 December 2019 - Bruce Halliday, Australian National Insect Collection, CSIRO, Canberra, Australian Captial Territory, Australia


Introduction to the 2019 edition

The closing date for the 2019 edition of this list was 31 December 2019. On that date the known Australian mite fauna included 319 families, 1190 genera, and 3747 species. Progress in the preceding two years has been slow and incremental. Small numbers of species have been added in a number of families, without any major reorganisation of the classification. The biggest increases in species numbers have been in the families Tenuipalpidae, Nosybeidae and Megisthanidae. Some new feather mites have been added and the family Alloptidae was revised; new species of Eriophyidae were added by the introduction of biological control agents for weeds; several genera of Halacaridae were revised; the Paratydeidae were revised; two new species of ticks were described; and species were added in the Podapolipidae and Tarsonemidae.

The biggest families in the fauna are now Halacaridae (239 species), Phytoseiidae (159), Phthiracaridae (139), Laelapidae (134), and Erythraeidae (130). Forty four families have been recorded from Australia without any identified species. That figure gives a clear indication of the taxonomic task that lies ahead.

Bruce Halliday, 31 December 2019.

Introduction to the 2017 edition

The closing date for new data for the 2017 edition of this list was 31 December 2016. On that date the known Australian mite fauna included 319 families, 1185 genera, and 3664 species. Apart from adding the newly-described taxa, I took the opportunity to add over 100 new references, providing data for the new species as well as adding information to the species that were already known. I also corrected large numbers of editorial mistakes that occurred in the previous edition. The new list includes a substantially revised classification of the family Laelapidae, reflecting the rapidly-changing knowledge of the family world-wide. Our knowledge of the water mites has grown substantially since 2013, with large numbers of species added to several families. The classification of Oribatida has continued to expand and improve, especially through recent revisions of the Infraorder Mixonomatina. The family with the largest number of species is the Halacaridae (239 species). Other large families include the Laelapidae (134 species), Phytoseiidae (159), Atopomelidae (97), Phthiracaridae (126), Erythraeidae (130), Hygrobatidae (108) and Trombiculidae (112). These eight families together comprise almost one-third of the known species. These species numbers probably do not accurately reflect the real diversity of the fauna. They are more heavily influenced by the activity of one or two acarologists who have a special interest in a particular family.

The literature of acarology has improved dramatically in recent years through the publication of world-wide catalogues of a number of important families, both in print and on-line. This list incorporates data from recent world catalogues of Tydeidae, Syringophilidae, Tetranychidae, Tenuipalpidae, Ologamasidae, Ascidae, Melicharidae, Blattisociidae, Pachylaelapidae, Stigmaeidae, and Rhodacaridae.

No document of this size is complete or free from errors. As before, I would welcome feedback from people who use this list, so I can correct my errors and omissions.

Bruce Halliday, 31 January 2017

Introduction to the 2013 edition

The previous edition of this list was published in January 2012. Since then new information about the Australian mite fauna has continued to appear. Also, some people who used previous editions of this list have generously offered their comments on how it could be improved. I have taken the opportunity to correct some of my own mistakes, both taxonomic and editorial.

There have been important changes to the documented fauna in three main areas. First, the classification of the ticks is under constant review, as molecular methods reveal new information about the relationships among species and genera. Most importantly, the name of the Australian cattle tick has been corrected from Boophilus microplus to Rhipicephalus australis. Second, authors have continued to add to the extraordinary diversity of Australian water mites, with descriptions of new species in several families. And third, some valuable new work has been published on the fauna of predatory Mesostigmata, including both soil-dwelling and arboreal families. The taxonomic situation regarding the wheat curl mite Aceria tosichella is becoming more complicated, as new molecular evidence shows that this name has been applied to several different species with different food plants and geographic distributions.

In April 2013, this list includes 317 families, 1173 genera and 3570 species, an increase of 9 genera and 58 species in a little over a year. Those numbers will continue to rise as new work is published, and new editions of this will be published as opportunity permits.

Bruce Halliday, April 2013.

Introduction to the 2012 edition

The first edition of this checklist of mites of Australia was published in print form in July 1998 (Halliday 1998). The Introduction to the 1998 edition includes a comprehensive description of the history and background of the project, and that information need not be repeated here. The information in the 1998 list was converted to electronic form, and the first on-line edition was published on the Australian Faunal Directory web site in 2000 (Halliday 2000). Much has happened in acarology in the intervening ten years. This new edition incorporates the large amount of new information about the Australian mite fauna that has been published since 2001, it corrects some errors and omissions from the previous editions, and it incorporates the dramatic progress that has been made in acarology in general in the last ten years.

Taxonomic study of the Australian mite fauna over the last ten years has caused a substantial increase in the number of taxa recognised. The number of families has increased from 304 in 2001 to 317 in 2012, the number of genera from 888 to 1,164, and the number of species from 2,865 to 3,512. The apparent increase in the number of genera must be interpreted with care, because the 2001 figure did not include genera that were known from Australia only on the basis of unidentified or undescribed species.

As for previous editions, the subject matter of this list is names and literature. It does not provide any means of identifying mites, and it does not provide information about the biology, behaviour, or economic importance of mites, except in the briefest way. Instead, the purpose of this list is to present a list of all the mites that are known to occur in Australia, to place these species in the best available classification, and to provide an entry to the relevant literature, as a starting point for other types of studies. Each family treatment includes a brief introduction, with a few notes about the extent and nature of the Australian and world faunas of the family, a summary of the biology and ecological significance of the family, and references to sources of further information. No information is included on the origin or deposition of types or other specimens. This information can be obtained from the references listed. No types or any other specimens have been examined during the preparation of this list, and no new taxonomic decisions have been made. I have assumed that the identification of specimens in published work is accurate unless there is published evidence to the contrary. I have not attempted to give comprehensive synonymies at any level. These are left to the authors of revisions, either past or future. Synonyms are included only if they have Australian relevance, or if they are particularly instructive in some way. Published synonymies are assumed to be accurate unless there is published evidence to the contrary.


The main source of new information for this edition has been more than 500 books and papers published between 2000 and 2012, presenting the results of original research on the Australian mite fauna. Apart those taxonomic studies of particular mite groups, many important checklists and catalogues of mites have been published in recent years. These include Mąkol (2000) for Trombidiidae; Lin & Zhang (2002) for Tarsonemidae; Moraes et al. (2004) for Phytoseiidae; Beron (2008) for Calyptostomatoidea and Erythraeoidea; Bartsch (2009) for Halacaridae; Mesa et al. (2009) for Tenuipalpidae; Midgeon & Dorkeld (2010) for Tetranychidae; Beron (2011) for Listrophoroidea; and Subias (2011) for Oribatida. I have used data from all of these in the current checklist, although I have not always accepted every detail of their classifications.

Literature coverage

The extent of literature cited inevitably varies from species to species. The number of papers cited for each species is intended to outline its nomenclatural history and to show important subsequent literature. In the case of species that have both a complex synonymy and an extensive literature, I have included the publications that are most useful. The bibliography does not pretend to be exhaustive. I have included more modern and substantial works in preference to older and slighter works. In general terms I have attempted to provide a list of publications on each species that includes the sorts of information that would be useful to an acarologist working on its taxonomy, economic importance, general biology, and systematics in the broad sense. The literature for an important pest or beneficial species may include a selection of papers on its life cycle and biology, economic importance, and control. With only a very few exceptions, I have personally seen every publication in the lists of references. The advent of the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and dramatic improvements in a range of other bibliographic resources, made this process much easier than it was a few years ago.

Taxonomic structure

The higher classification of the mites is still under constant review. There is some evidence that the mites are not monophyletic, and that some groups of mites are closely related to other groups of arachnids. On the other hand, there is evidence that the mites are a single unified group, based on morphological character states that they all share. There are also very good practical reasons for treating "mites" as a single entity, even if this may not be strictly true in an evolutionary sense.

It is difficult to fit the mites into the classification of other groups of arachnids. The enormous morphological and numerical diversity of mites means that their classification must include more higher and intermediate taxa than the spiders and scorpions, for example. The mites are here regarded as a single taxon Acari, of unspecified rank, which is divided into six Orders, each comparable with the other Orders of Arachnida. The Orders Holothyrida, Ixodida, Mesostigmata, and Opilioacarida are usually combined into the Superorder Parasitiformes, and the Orders Sarcoptiformes and Trombidiformes are usually combined to form the Superorder Acariformes.

The classification used here is based on the third edition of A Manual of Acarology (Krantz & Walter 2009). The new Manual incorporates the results of 30 years of work in acarology since the previous edition of 1978. It reflects our greatly improved understanding of mite systematics, especially in the inclusion of the Astigmata within the Oribatida, a new concept of the status of Endeostigmata, and a very large number of other large and small improvements. I have used the Manual extensively in the preparation of this list, and I have adopted the classification used there, with a very few exceptions. I have also made extensive use of the summary classification that appeared in the recent special issue of Zootaxa (Zhang 2011), which is essentially the same.

The classification uses a simplified set of taxonomic categories. I have not used intermediate categories such as subfamilies, subgenera, tribes, and species groups. The use of these categories is very inconsistent across different mite groups. In some cases the use of the subgenus category would mean that some species would be placed in subgenera and others would be left not associated with any subgenus. In the few cases where subgenera have been used in an Australian context, they are listed as synonyms of the genus in which they occur.

There is no section containing species or other taxa of uncertain status or taxonomic position (incertae sedis). I have placed every taxon in the classification to the best of my ability. This includes cases in which, for example, the placement of a species in a genus appears to be wrong. In these cases, species are listed in the genus in which they were placed in the most recent taxonomic work in which they appear. I have refrained from taking action to correct these placements because that would oblige me to make taxonomic decisions that would not be possible without examining types. Also, a policy of listing some species as incertae sedis would have forced me to decide which species are incertae sedis and which are not. I may have been able to make that distinction in the families of Mesostigmata in which I have personal research experience, but I am certainly not able to do so in all mite groups. Wherever possible I have drawn attention to these cases in explanatory notes, in the hope that subsequent revisers of the genera concerned will take some decisive action to resolve the ambiguities.

The data for many families includes records of specimens identified only to the genus or family level. The purpose of those listings is draw attention to these records so that future authors can identify potential sources of specimens, and to (tentatively) record the occurrence of some genera and families in Australia that are not represented by identified species. These records are sometimes based on authoritative identifications by taxonomic specialists, sometimes not, and all are subject to review.

Geographical area

The geographical area covered in this checklist includes mainland Australia, Tasmania, and the in-shore continental islands inside the 200 m contour of ocean depth. The islands of Bass Strait are included, as are the islands of the Great Barrier Reef. The area covered also includes the Torres Strait Islands south of 10 degrees south latitude. This does not correspond to the political border of Australia, which approaches very close to the southern coast of Papua New Guinea. It excludes the islands of Boigu, Dauan and Saibai, which are politically part of Australia, but are only a few kilometres off the Papua New Guinea coast. This distinction is only important in the case of one species, Varroa jacobsoni, which occurs on Dauan and Saibai, but not on the Australian mainland or the islands south of 10 degrees south latitude. The offshore oceanic territories Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island, Norfolk Island, Lord Howe Island, the sub-Antarctic islands, and the Australian Antarctic Territory are excluded, despite the fact that these are under the political administration of Australia. The term "Australia" has sometimes been used in the literature in a loose sense that roughly approximates to the Australian biogeographic realm. It sometimes includes New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Irian Jaya, New Zealand, and some of the other islands of the Pacific Ocean, all of which are excluded from the present survey.

Closing date

The closing date for publications included in this list was 31 January 2012. Any list of taxa and literature on this scale must inevitably include errors and omissions. I would be grateful to colleagues who use this list, if they could bring these mistakes to my attention so I can correct them in a possible future edition.


General References

Bartsch, I. 2009. Checklist of marine and freshwater halacarid mite genera and species (Halacaridae: Acari) with notes on synonyms, habitats, distribution and descriptions of the taxa. Zootaxa 1998: 1–170

Beron, P. 2008. Acarorum Catalogus. I. Acariformes: Calyptostomatoidea (Calyptostomatidae), Erythraeoidea (Smarididae, Erythraeidae). Sofia : Pensoft pp. 271.

Beron, P. 2011. Acarorum Catalogus. II. Acariformes: Acaridida. Listrophoroidea. Listrophoridae, Dromiciocoptidae, Myocoptidae, Chirodiscidae, Atopomelidae. Sofia : Pensoft pp. 263.

de Moraes, G.J., McMurtry, J.A., Denmark, H.A. & Campos, C.B. 2004. A revised catalog of the mite family Phytoseiidae. Zootaxa 434: 1–494

Halliday, R.B. 1998. Mites of Australia : A Checklist and Bibliography. Melbourne : CSIRO Publishing 317 pp.

Halliday, R.B. Superorder ACARINA. Mites. Australian Biological Resources Study. 30 April 2000.

Krantz, G.W. & Walter, D.E. (eds) 2009. A Manual of Acarology. Lubbock, Texas : Texas Tech University Press Third edition, 807 pp.

Lin, J. & Zhang, Z.-Q. 2002. Tarsonemidae of the World. Key to Genera, Geographical Distribution, Systematic Catalogue & Annotated Bibliography. London : Systematic & Applied Acarology Society pp. 440.

Mąkol, J. 2000. Catalogue of the world Trombidiidae (Acari: Actinotrichida: Trombidioidea). Annales Zoologici, Warszawa 50: 599–625

Mesa, N.C., Ochoa, R., Welbourn, W.C., Evans, G.A. & de Moraes, G.J. 2009. A catalog of the Tenuipalpidae (Acari) of the world with a key to genera. Zootaxa 2098: 1–185

Midgeon, A. & Dorkeld, F. 2010. Spider Mites Web: a comprehensive database for the Tetranychidae. 8 September 2010. [date of access 20 September 2011]

Subias, L.S February 2011. Listado sistemático, sinonímico y biogeográfico de los ácaros oribátidos (Acariformes: Oribatida) del mundo (excepto fósiles). Departamento de Zoología, Facultad de Biología, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain. [date of access 1 October 2011]

Zhang, Z.-Q. 2011. Animal Biodiversity: An Outline of Higher-level Classification and Survey of Taxonomic Richness. Auckland : Magnolia Press.


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
05-Dec-2019 Acari 15-Sep-2019 MODIFIED Dr Bruce Halliday
01-May-2017 Acari 20-Mar-2017 MODIFIED Dr Bruce Halliday
07-May-2013 07-May-2013 MODIFIED
07-Aug-2012 MODIFIED