Humans and Mites Evolving Together

December 30th, 2015

Humans and Mites Evolving Together

Scientists have discovered that all human bodies have mites, without exception. A new study explores the face mite species, Demodex folliculorum, in order to link the mite to our own evolution.

Scientists have found that different human populations have different mites, of which these mites follow families through generations, which are not casually transferred between humans.

Demodex folliculorum are tiny arachnids that inhabit hairs throughout the human body and consumer skins cells and oils. These mites exists in our:

  • Ears
  • Eyebrows
  • Eyelashes
  • Nipple hairs
  • Genital hairs

Unfortunately for some, these mites can be associated with various skin and eye disorders such as rosacea and blepharitis.


In this recent study, researchers sampled 70 human hosts from around the world. “We discovered that people from different parts of the world host different mite lineages,” said Dr. Michelle Trautwein. “The continent where a person’s ancestry originated tended to predict the types of mites on their faces. We found that mite lineages can persist in hosts for generations. Even if you move to a faraway region, your mites stick with you.”

Trautwein plans on continuing with researching the lives of mites and how they relate to our evolution. In 2016-2017 she will continue to sampling mites and collecting from house-dwelling arthropods in Australia, Mozambique, China and Antarctica.

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