Physiological and Biochemical Zoology
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Although many arthropods are freeze tolerant (able to withstand internal ice), small-bodied terrestrial arthropods such as mites are thought to be constrained to freeze avoidance. We field-collected active adult red velvet mites, Allothrombium sp. (Trombidiidae), in winter in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, where temperatures drop below −20°C. These mites froze between −3.6° and −9.2°C and survived internal ice formation. All late-winter mites survived being frozen for 24 h at −9°C, and 50% survived 1 wk. The lower lethal temperature (LLT50; low temperature that kills 50% of mites) was ca. −20°C in midwinter. Hemolymph osmolality and glycerol concentration increased in midwinter, accompanied by decreased water content. Thus, this species is freeze tolerant, demonstrating that there is neither phylogenetic nor size constraint to evolving this cold tolerance strategy.