Raise an eyebrow
Here’s a factoid to get your skin crawling, if it isn’t already: At
birth, we’re all mite-free. By age 60, virtually every human adult is
infested with face mites, mostly around the eyes and nose. They’re
transmitted by physical contact so you can probably thank your partner
for sharing more than just a smooch.
Face mites were discovered in the mid-1800s. First by Frederick Henle
who found them living in earwax, but wasn’t quite sure what to make of
them. He wrote to a colleague, G. Simon, who had simultaneously
discovered them residing in the pimples on the noses of patients. Simon
consulted an entomologist and the mites were classified as members of
the Class Arachnida, Order Acari. They were eventually named Demodex folliculorum.
In 1963, a Russian scientist named L. Kh. Akbulatova noticed that
some face mites were smaller than others. He initially believed them to
be a subspecies of D. folliculorum, but it was later determined that the shorter mites were a distinct species, now known as D. brevis.
So humans have the privilege of being home to two species of mites.
As you can see from the image above – a scanning electron micrograph by Steve Gschmeissner
depicting some mites colored green hunkered around the base of a
yellow-colored eyelash – they aren’t much to look at. Though related to
spiders and possessing eight legs, their appendages are stubby and used
almost entirely for gripping onto a hair.