Tag Archives: mite

Making your bed every day might encourage mites to breed in it

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who religiously make their bed every day in cleanliness and order… and the rest of us. If you’re in the latter group, then I’ve got some good news: keeping your bed messy might be good for your health.

Image via Nutritious Life.

Mites are everywhere – in every single house. At any given point, there’s probably over one million mites on every bed. House dust mites feed on organic detritus, such as flakes of shed human skin, and flourish in house environments. They’re also a common cause of asthma and allergic symptoms worldwide, because their gut contains potent digestive enzymes that persist in their feces and get ejected into the air and on flat surfaces. Most people are completely immune to their effects, but for some people, these enzymes can trigger asthma and wheezing, as well as a broad range of allergies.

The research was conducted by a team from the Kingston University in England; they used a computer model to predict how the dust mites fare in a range of different conditions – including on a made and non-made bed. They found that the mites flourish on neatly mate beds, but shrivel and dry otherwise.

“We know that mites can only survive by taking in water from the atmosphere using small glands on the outside of their body,” lead researcher Stephen Pretlove told the BBC when the research was released. “Something as simple as leaving a bed unmade during the day can remove moisture from the sheets and mattress so the mites will dehydrate and eventually die.”

A scanning electron micrograph of a female dust mite. Image via Wikipedia.

It has to be said that the model was based on conditions in the UK, and likely doesn’t stand in tropical or much more humid climates. The team also plans to conduct a study on a real life scenario to see if the results are similar to their model.

However, not everyone is convinced that making your bed helps mites.

“It is true that mites need humid conditions to thrive and cannot survive in very dry (desert like) conditions,” Andrew Wardlaw from the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology, who wasn’t involved in the research, told the BBC. “However, most homes in the UK are sufficiently humid for the mites to do well and I find it hard to believe that simply not making your bed would have any impact on the overall humidity.”

I’m hoping that soon they will prove that not making your bed is indeed detrimental to mites… or, you know, any reason to not make your bed.

Journal Reference: David Crowther , Toby Wilkinson, Phillip Biddulph, Tadj Oreszczyn, Stephen Pretlove, Ian Ridley. A simple model for predicting the effect of hygrothermal conditions on populations of house dust mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (Acari: Pyroglyphidae). Experimental & Applied Acarology, DOI10.1007/s10493-006-9003-8 (via Science Alert)

Usain Bolt of the animal kingdom - Paratarsotomus macropalpis.

Small mite is world’s fastest land animal, relative to size

Usain Bolt of the animal kingdom - Paratarsotomus macropalpis.

Usain Bolt of the animal kingdom – Paratarsotomus macropalpis. Photo: FASEB Journal

Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animals in the world, able to run as fast as 75 mph. It’s their acute agility that allows them to survive, however, catching prey by making huge leaps at four times the acceleration human leg muscles are capable of producing. No doubt about it, this is one of the most amazing cats out there, but while cheetahs are the fastest in the macro-world, size-per-size a small mite native that lives in Southern California takes the crown. The miti, called Paratarsotomus macropalpis, can travel 322 body lengths in a second, toppling by far the previous record holder, the Australian tiger beetle, which tops out at 171 body lengths per second. The cheetah only boats 14 body lengths per second.

To put things into perspective, if we humans were capable of traveling at 322 body lengths per second, that would mean a velocity of 1,300 miles per hour. In under 20 hours, a human-Paratarsotomus m. hybrid could circle the globe (how’s that for an alternate universe Flash Gordon plot?). Yes, this is one fast mite… for its size.

The mite was first described a century ago, but only recently did scientists discover its awesome speed after closely following specimens with high-speed cameras. Follow-up research that will try to understand how the mite manages to pick up and put down each foot about 135 times a second might aid in designing super-agile robots.

Findings were reported in the journal FASEB Journal.

Crippled bee population might be saved by super breeding

The world bee population is at its greatest trial in years, as thousands of bee populations die off each year. Scientists are trying to salvage what’s left or even possibly enforce the current bees left by breeding a new pest resistant, cold impervious superbees.

Beekeepers around the world have reported on their lowest honey crops in decades, all because of the declining honeybee populations at the hands of insecticide-resistant mites and viruses. Now, instead of introducing a new kind of pesticide, scientists are trying to breed stronger bees capable of surviving and overcoming the threats they’re exposed to.

According to the U.N., viruses and mites are responsible for the killing of 85% of bees in the Middle East, 10% to 30% of bees in Europe, and nearly a third of American bees each year. If you don’t care too much about bees, maybe you should look a bit to your stomach and see what kind of say he has in this. Consider that over 70 of the 100 crops that provide 90% of the world’s food are pollinated by bees, $83 billion worth of crops money-wise, and billions of hungry mouths human-wise.

University of Manitoba in Winnipeg researchers tried to achieve this by inserting queen bees that exhibited the required properties across colonies in Canada. They then were subjected to what’s referred to as disease pressure, in which each generation of survivors is bred for the next season, the theory being that eventually a mite-resistant brand of bees will emerge.

What they got was more than they ever hoped for; not only were the bees resistant to pests and viruses, but also fit for surviving winters – only 46% of European honeybees normally survive the winter, but these mite-resistant bees have a 75% survival rate.

It’s trivial to believe, however, that breeding mite-resistant bees will be the end of the current bee, and overall food crisis. It’s well accounted that pollution, climate change and growing devastating pesticides are also responsible for the worldwide bee decimation.

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