Wildlife Up Close

Face mite 10-2013If you are squeamish about small creatures being up close, stop reading this and turn to the sports page.  What you are about to learn will shock some and amaze others, so read on at your discretion.  Earth has an astonishing number of life forms with habitats for them to live in. Take your face for instance, a warm, comfortable, perhaps even cute place.   But imagine you are only about one forth the size of the period at the end of a sentence and living on a human face.  The facial hairs would be a massive forest, and the follicle at the base of each hair would be a deep, cave-like pit. The face is constantly exposed to the elements and seldom protected.  It is washed frequently and in constant motion.  To the tiny it would be like living in a place where floods and earthquakes are a daily occurrence.  And yet in this harsh habitat lives the face mite.

 

There are over 65 skin mites (also called follicle mites) that live on practically all mammals, and two of them prefer to call the human face their home.  They have four pair of stubby legs and have long thin body to fit into the numerous glands and follicles on our skin.  The deep follicles provide good shelter, and so face mites seldom venture out onto the surface. They get along just fine staying in the same follicle, eating nearby skin cells and hanging out with their buddies at the base of one of your eyebrow hairs.  When it gets too crowded in one follicle, some face mites will slowly migrate to another, less crowded hole.

 

Face mites must reproduce just like the rest of us, and do so right there on our face.  Unlike the rest of us, face mites lack an important piece of equipment…. an anus.  They presumably die of terminal constipation about 2 weeks after they hatch out, which may be nature’s way of protecting us from a population explosion in our nose hair.  Bad sounding way to go, though.

 

If you want to get rid of face mites, forget it.  You would do more harm to yourself than the mites.  As long as there is food and shelter, they will be on our face, for the most part living a harmless existence. They may actually benefit us by eating skin bacteria.  But some recent research also suggests that rosacea, a red inflammation of facial skin, may be caused by bacteria living on face mite feces after they die from having no butt. I know by now you’re thinking “TOO MUCH INFORMATION!!!” I know, sorry. It’s still amazing though, is it not?

 

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