Mites - Milwaukee County, Wisconsin
I have a new set up for extreme macro and I wanted to test it out, so I went out into the backyard and searched for subjects, I wanted to find the smallest subject I could and I came across these mites feeding on a dead gnat... perfect! I would guess that these mites weren't even a millimeter across, it was quite challenging photographing them and I deleted most of my shots, but I really took my time photographing these tiny critters as they scampered around this gnat and as a result I have some images I am reasonably happy with. I'm looking forward to photographing some more critters with my new set-up though perhaps larger than these mites.
I have no idea what species or even genus of mites this might be. Mites are among the most successful and diverse of all the invertebrate groups which is saying quite a lot. These are either predatory mites or perhaps scavengers, either way they seem to be sucking the liquids out of the dead gnat. Some random facts about mites that I thought were interesting is that the fastest land animal is not the cheetah as you may think it is infact Paratarsotomus macropalpis, a species of mite, of course this is relative to body length. Another record held by a notable mite is Archegozetes longisetosus which is one of the strongest animals able to lift more than a 1000 times its bodyweight. There have been over 48,000 mites described and they fill nearly every niche imaginable from predators to parasites to decomposers.
EDIT: I think these mites belong to the Anystidae family of mites, these mites are generalist predators and members of the genus are found worldwide, including apparently my backyard!