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Researchers have made a new discovery about the mites which live on your skin and have sex on you while you sleep.
Prepare to never sleep again as a new shadowy figure is about to enter your sleep paralysis nightmares - although, it's a bit more like Paranormal Activity as you won't be able to see the devilish Demodex folliculorum mites as they scurry around and apparently have sex all over you, including on your eyelashes and nipples.
The eight-legged bugs live in our pores and move between areas including our face and nipples in the hopes of finding a mate - the human body equivalent of a bar hosting a Thursday dating event.
A mite's genome was sequenced for the first time by researchers from the University of Reading, with the study finding that the bugs now shed unnecessary genes and cells as a result of the inbreeding which goes on along the surface of our skin.
Even worse than knowing you are littered with the extra shedded cells of a mite, humans are now being warned to expect the bugs to develop into 'internal symbionts' that live inside of us, as opposed to remaining simply as external parasites.
If that wasn't enough to make your skin crawl – although the mites are literally doing that for you – you've had mites on your body since the day you were born.
Although, the bugs measure a length of 0.01 inches (0.3mm), so you won't have ever been able to spot them.
Out of sight, out of mind, right?
Co-leader of the research, Dr Alejandra Perotti, explained that the mites have a 'different arrangement of body part genes to other similar species due to them adapting to a sheltered life inside pore'.
However, the DNA changes 'have resulted in some unusual body features and behaviours'.
Things are rough, so it’s the perfect time to remind all of you that you’re not alone. Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis, the microscopic mites that call your face home, will come out to feed, burrow, breed, and poop all over your face tonight. You are loved. Sweet dreams.— Gabino Iglesias (@Gabino_Iglesias) February 24, 2022
The researchers noted that the bugs have to survive with a minimum number of proteins which is what causes them to shed unnecessary genes and cells.
The bugs are also nocturnal so when the evening settles in, you wind down your curtain and rest your head on your pillow, the mites wake up rearing to go, find a mate and get at it whether it be on your nipples or eyelashes – they're not fussy – fuelled by the melatonin which is secreted by human skin which helps their stamina overnight.
Demodex Folliculorum are tiny mites that live in your face and feed on the oil from your skin pic.twitter.com/B8EOWxpqUp— Taffin (@Ballymoran) September 1, 2021
Male mites even reportedly go a bit 50 Shades Of Grey with their sexual endeavours, using the hairs which layer human's skin to swing off and thrust themselves into the female.
While mites don't have exposure to any predators, they were initially thought to act as their own worst enemy.
It was first thought that the bugs have no anus and that because they are unable to let go of waste, it subsequently builds up over their lifetime, before being released when they die.
Yes. Onto your body. Which was thought to cause various eye and skin conditions.
However, the bugs reportedly do have anuses, according to the latest study.
Researchers have subsequently stood up in defence of the bugs, arguing they are being 'unfairly blamed' for conditions such as blepharitis and rosacea.
A new study on skin mites which live in our pores revealed the genetic reasons for their behaviour including mating on our faces at night. The research on Demodex folliculorum mites shows they've shed genes as they move towards becoming at one with humans.https://t.co/QmAdGA0VxE pic.twitter.com/8jf1vXOAk3— Uni of Reading (@UniofReading) June 22, 2022
Alas, with not being exposed to any external threats also comes the inability to introduce any mites from other families and so inbreeding is the only choice the bugs have.
The team noted how this could ultimately lead to the bugs' decline, as they could reach an 'evolutionary dead end' if they become symbionts.
Co-lead of the study, Dr Henk Braig from Bangor University and the National University of San Juan, concluded by arguing that despite the gruesome nature of the mites, they have 'simple but important beneficial roles' such as 'keeping the pores in our faces unplugged' and so shouldn't be as vilified and blamed.
Although the amount of times I find myself having to reach for a pore strip, maybe I should turn around and have a stern word.
The study, titled 'Human follicular mites: Ectoparasites becoming symbionts' is published in Oxford Academic.
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