When the some 30,000 different species of mites were created – they quickly adapted and spread out and infested every single conceivable creature, niche and/or space of our planet. There are millions of mites that live on our body and millions more that live in our beds and pillows, there are mites that live on our plants, mites that live in the soil, mites that live in bee throats, mites that ride in hummingbird nostrils, mites that ride on the feet of army ants and even mites that live in our eyebrows and eyelashes. Mites are an extremely diverse and important group of eight-legged arthropods that are closely related to spiders, scorpions, and a host of lesser-known arachnids. While other arachnids like spiders are exclusively predators, the various mite species exhibit great diversity of lifestyles. Some mites are parasitic pests that feed only on plants while others are parasitic pests that feed only on birds and animals (ectoparasites), while still other mites are considered to be beneficial predators of pest insects just like most of their spider relatives. All of the various 30,000 mites share the following visual characteristics: they all have 8 jointed legs and an external skeleton, or exoskeleton, they all lack antennae and mandibles (jaws), and they all have a complete absence of any abdominal segmentation.
Mites, along with ticks, are small arthropods belonging to the subclass Acari (also known as Acarina) and the class Arachnida. The scientific discipline devoted to the study of ticks and mites is called acarology. In soil ecosystems, mites are favored by high organic matter content and by moist conditions, wherein they actively engage in the fragmentation and mixing of organic matter. The majority of mite species are totally harmless to humans, but a few species of mites can colonize humans directly, and act as vectors for disease transmission, or cause or contribute to our many allergenic diseases. Mites which colonize animals include all of the various mange mites. Mites which colonize human skin are the cause of several types of skin itchy rashes, such as grain itch, grocer’s itch, and scabies. Sarcoptes scabiei is a parasitic mite responsible for scabies which is one of the three most common skin disorders in our children. Demodex mites, which are common cause of mange in dogs and other domesticated animals, have also been implicated in the human skin disease rosacea, although the mechanism by which demodex contributes to this disease is unclear. Chiggers are known primarily for their itchy bite, but they can also spread disease in some limited circumstances, such as scrub typhus. The house-mouse mite is the only known vector of the disease rickettsailpox. Dust mites cause several forms of allergic diseases, including hay fever, asthma and eczema, and are also known to aggravate atopic dermatitis. House dust mites are usually found in warm and humid locations, including our beds. It is thought that inhalation of these mites during sleep exposes the human body to some antignes that eventually induce hypersensitivity reactions.