Research on mites began in 1880 with the USDA employee N. Banks, who published several papers on spider mites of the family Tetranychidae, predator mites from the families Stigmaeidae and Cunaxidae, and plant associates from the family Tarsonemidae. In 1915 Banks authored the first comprehensive English handbook on mites. Banks left the USDA in 1916 to work at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Cambridge. E.A. McGregor overlapped briefly with Banks as an employee of the USDA. Working in the Division of Southern Field Crop Insect Investigations, McGregor published several papers dealing with spider mites and his collections from these projects laid the basis for the U.S. National Mite Collection's holdings for the family Tetranychidae.
Nathan Banks
In 1919, Banks was succeded by Acarologist H.E. Ewing who had experience working on predaceous and parasitic mites of several different families. During his tenure with the USDA, Ewing focused extensively on chiggers (Trombiculidae) and bee mites in the family Tarsonemidae. In 1944, E.W. Baker joined Ewing at the USDA. Baker's research encompassed a wide range of families of mites important to agriculture, livestock, and stored grain. Additionally, he carried out extensive studies of predatory, saprophytic, and parasitic mites. Together with G.W. Wharton, Baker authored the first major text on the subject of mites, An Introduction to Acarology.
Henry E, Ewing
Published in 1952, the book provided a broad overview of the Acari and was accessible to a wide audience, which included the general public as well as students. Because of Baker's many outstanding contributions to acarine classification, systematics, and taxonomy, his peers honored him along with Wharton as the "Fathers of Modern Day Acarology." Even though he retired in 1987, he continued to perform extensive research on plant-feeding mites of the families Tetranychidae and Tenuipalpidae until 1996, when he moved to the Philippines with his wife, M. Delfinado-Baker. Delfinado-Baker was also a USDA Acarologist, who worked in the ARS Bee Research Lab. Together, she and her husband, carried out additional studies on the mites associated with a variety of bees.
Mercedes Delfinado-Baker & Edward W. Baker
In 1961, R. L. Smiley was assigned to the Systematic Entomology Laboratory. Smiley worked on a number of families of plant-feeding, predatory, and parasitic mites. Additionally, he focused on mites in the families Tarsonemidae and Pyemotidae. Smiley's major contribution to the acarological literature is his 1992 publication, The Predatory Mite Family Cunaxidae (Acari) of the World. Smiley also collaborated with J.C. Moser, a mite specialist at the USDA's Southern Forest Experiment Station in Pineville Louisiana. Moser's work focused primarily on mites related with forest ecosystems, and many of the specimens he collected during his tenure from 1958 to 1989 have greatly enriched the U.S. National Mite Collection. Although retired, Moser is still actively pursuing mite related research and maintains a close relationship with the Sytematic Entomology Laboratory's mite program.
Robert L. Smiley
Recent and future major applications of research include studies on plant-feeding of the families Eriophyidae, Tetranychidae, Tenuipalpidae, Tuckerellidae, Tarsonemidae, and the bee mites in the family Acaridae. Also, intensive work is being done in collaboration with the ARS Electron Microscopy Unit at the Soybean Genomics and Improvement Laboratory using low-temperature scanning electron microscopy techniques to improve our understanding of mite morphology. In association with the Bee Research Laboratory and the Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory, studies on bee mites and the use of mites for biological control of weeds (Canada Thistle), respectively, are in progress.
University of Maryland Acarology Program, 1954
The U.S. National Mite Collection is especially strong in groups of economic concern to agriculture. Those well represented are the Tetranychoidea, Cheyletoidea, Eriophyoidea (H.H. Keifer's collection), Hydrachnoidea (I.M. Newell's collection), American parasitic and predaceous Mesostigmata, Phytoseiidae, Trombiculidae, and stored-product and bee mites. Many specimens have been studied by Amrine, Baker, Denmark, DeLeon, Fain, Ewing, Jacot, Johnston, Kethley, Krantz, Lindquist, McGregor, Norton, Ochoa, OConnor, Smiley, Welbourn, as well as by many more researchers throughout the United States and around the world.
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