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mites

OLogy Series
animal
card
150

mites

OLogy Series
animal

If you looked at the contents of a vacuum cleaner bag with a microscope, you'd probably find millions of tiny creatures called mites. These tiny critters feed on the dead skin of animals and humans, dust, and anything else you can think of. Mites are not insects. They are arachnids, related to spiders and scorpions. Most kinds are harmless to humans and play an important role in the environment.

Predatory mites are important for the environment because they:

recycle

clean up after themselves

eat other mites that attack crops and gardens

Are you right?

Correct!

Many farmers purchase mites because they eat other mites that attack their crops. For example, spider mites and thrips are tiny creatures that like to attack fruit trees. Some mites will eat the spider mites and help save the fruit trees.

What is this a picture of?

a small mite preserved in fossilized amber

a humpback mite, which swims in the ocean

a mite found in volcanic lava

Are you right?

Correct!

This picture of a mite preserved in ancient amber (tree sap) was enlarged about 20 times. Mites are one of Earth's oldest animals, but few are found in fossils because they are so small.

The stuffed animals that sit on your bed are filled with mites.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

People with allergies cannot keep stuffed animals on their beds because they are filled with millions of dust mites. They are allergic to dust mite poop. Yuck!

Microscopic mites probably live on your eyelashes.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Mites often live on human hair follicles. These are the areas where hair strands begin to grow. For most people, mites are harmless, but some people are allergic to them.

mites
Order: Acari
Size: most mites cannot be seen with the human eye; they are microscopic
Habitat: found worldwide in gardens, dust, soil, leaf litter, and on living organisms
Diet: blood and skin of living and dead animals, plants, fungi, and other tiny insects
Characteristics: have mouthparts that can crush and pierce; are brown to red in color

Image credits: courtesy of Mike R. Meyer/3 dot studio.