I've seen this circulating on social networks:

enter image description here

I was wondering to what extent is it true. Do skin mites really get on the skin surface to reproduce? Why is it so?


Yes, it is true that these mites exist on healthy human skin, on >98% of people, no matter the country or hygiene.

However, I'm sorry to say that this photograph is not the follicle mite Demodex folliculorum. This image has been widely circulated around the internet as Demodex, but it is actually the head of a silkworm, Bombyx mori. The above version has been modified slightly from the original, but you can see the original here: https://www.sciencephoto.com/media/720736/view/silkworm-head-sem

And here is a zoomed out version of a silkworm: https://macrocritters.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/photographing-down-the-food-web-silkworms-bombyx-mori/

You can find a real close-up of Demodex here: https://www.sciencesource.com/archive/Demodex-folliculorum-(SEM)-SS2367855.html

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    $\begingroup$ Is there a reference on the Demodex population spread? Also the last link is behind paywall. $\endgroup$ – Tomáš Zato Jan 30 at 11:57
  • $\begingroup$ Doesn't answer the main question about mite reproduction, but it does address the "is it true?" portion of the OP's post. Good on you for catching it. +1 $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Jan 30 at 15:37

Not only do skin mites have sex on your face, but my suspicion is that -- quite often -- they're having INCEST on your face. (I.e., brothers inseminate their own sisters.) Admittedly, I'm not sure about the Demodex species that live on humans, but I know that among mites as a general group, there are various species that have evolved genetic mechanisms to make brother/sister mating less harmful than it would otherwise be.

And if you're a tiny, slow-moving creature that is unlikely to travel more than a few centimeters from the spot where you and your siblings hatched out, the odds of meeting an "unrelated" mite -- say, third cousin or farther -- are not very great. Most of your potential mates are likely to be genetically close kin; and sometimes, a sibling may be the only option. Beggars can't be choosers, any port in a storm, etc.

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    $\begingroup$ Please add references to your answer. $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' Aug 19 '18 at 5:42
  • $\begingroup$ This doesn't try to answer the question. $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Dec 20 '18 at 14:42

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