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Classifying Arthropods

Articles: Classifying Arthropods

Dust mites (Tyrophagus putrescentiae), 100x. Photograph by Eric Erbe

Besides being food for other members of the soil food web, soil arthropods are important to the community as shredders, predators, and soil aerators. The presence or absence of certain of these key players can tell a gardener much about the health of soils and the plants growing in them.
Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis
Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web

Without more than a passing interest in them, most gardeners lump all the arthropods together as simply “insects” or “bugs.” Any given gardener may know a few of the popular and unpopular ones that inhabit local gardens but, for the most part, not many more. Part of the problem is that there are too many arthropods. The phylum Arthropoda is by far the largest in the animal kingdom—so large that it presents a real challenge for us: how can we, the authors, show you, the readers, how to use the soil food web without overwhelming you with information? There are just too many kinds of soildwelling arthropods to describe them all, or even come close to doing so, a...

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