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How to make preparations of oribatid mites

How to make permanent slides?

Only with canada balsam! All other embedding media are not for ever - but think of amber!

Hint: xylene is not necessary to resolve preparations with canada balsam. 100% isoproyl alcohol does the same - and is less poisonous!

How to brighten oribatid mites?

By bringing them in pure lactic acid. Leave them for a day or heaten carefully. To get a good sight in your microscope it is generally better to leve them untouched one day.

And if the animals are still too dark?

Do not use potassium hydroxyide solution but hydrogen peroxide (30%) instead:

Put the animals inside a watchglass and cover with a glass plate. Arrange a halogen bulb lamp above it, so that the solution warms up and produces bubbles. Watch the animals carefully. If they get honey yellow it is time to remove them. Be careful not to dry up your samples!

And how to remove air from inside the animal?

Put them in pure (100%igen) alcohol and wait for one day. 

How to arrange oribatid mites inside a canada balsam preparation?

Inside the orbatid channel: put two cover glasses side by side on a slide, so that only a small channel remains free. Now put fluid canada balsam inside this channel and add the animal. Cover everything with a third cover glass. Use a filter paper or a handkerchief to remove fluid canada balsam until the animal is in the right position. Then block the channel with a drop of tough canada balsam - the preparation is ready to use!

How to make preparations of mouthparts? 

Put in lactic acid and afterwards in water. The hygroscopic effect of the lactic acid turns the mouthparts outside!

If this does not work: extract them with a fine needle.

Photographic images of large oribatid mites (over 300my)

Do not brighten, but watch them in glycerol in a hollow slide.

Illumination: incident light, background dark grey or brown (just try). Diversify the angle of illumination.

Very large and problematic oribatid mites have to be leaned on a cover glas. Another cover glas covers the animal. If necessary you might construct „excessive hollow slides“ by sticking cover glases with canada balsam at the margin of the slide.


We would like to express our thanks for these hints to our "teacher in oribatid mites" Dr. Steffen Woas (SMNK).

Last changes: Jörg Spelda  19.02.2013

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