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Meet The Dust Mites, Tiny Roommates That Feast On Your Skin | Deep Look

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You may think that you've got the house to yourself, but chances are you have about 100 different types of animals living with you. Many of them are harmless, but a few can be dangerous in ways you wouldn't expect. New research explores exactly whom you share your home with and how they got there.

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DEEP LOOK: a new ultra-HD (4K) short video series created by KQED San Francisco and presented by PBS Digital Studios. See the unseen at the very edge of our visible world. Get a new perspective on our place in the universe and meet extraordinary new friends. Explore big scientific mysteries by going incredibly small.

---+ About Dust Mites

With the warming weather it’s the season for spring cleaning. But before you reach for the broom and mop, take a moment to look at who else is sharing your home with you. The number of uninvited guests you find in your dustpan may surprise you.

A recent study published in the journal PeerJ took up the challenge of cataloging the large numbers of tiny animals that live in human dwellings. The researchers found that the average home contains roughly 100 different species of arthropods, including familiar types like flies, spiders and ants, but also some kinds that are less well known like gall wasps and book lice. And no matter how much human residents may clean, there will always be a considerable number of mini-roommates.

“Even as entomologists we were really surprised. We live in our houses all the time, so we thought we’d be more familiar with the kind of things we’d come across. There was a surprising level of biodiversity,” said Michelle Trautwein, assistant curator of entomology at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

---+ What are dust mites?

Dust mites are tiny animals, related to spiders, that are usually too small to be seen with the naked eye. They feed on dead skin that humans shed every day and their droppings may cause allergic reactions and may aggravate asthma, especially in children.

---+ How do you minimize dust mites?

It’s practically impossible to completely rid a home of dust mites, but frequent cleaning and removing carpeting can help. Wet cleaning like mopping helps keep from stirring up dust while cleaning. The most effective way to keep dust mite populations down is to keep the indoor humidity level low. Dust mites can only survive in humid environments.

---+ How do you see dust mites?

Dust mites are about .2mm long. You can see dust mites with a powerful magnifying glass, but you can get a better view by using a microscope.

Read the entire article on KQED Science:
http://ww2.kqed.org/science/2016/04/05/meet-the-dust-mites-tiny-roommates-that-feast-on-your-skin/


---+ More great DEEP LOOK episodes:

The Bombardier Beetle And Its Crazy Chemical Cannon
http://ww2.kqed.org/science/2016/04/05/meet-the-dust-mites-tiny-roommates-that-feast-on-your-skin/

Where Are the Ants Carrying All Those Leaves?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6oKJ5FGk24

Banana Slugs: Secret of the Slime
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHvCQSGanJg

--- Super videos from the PBS Digital Studios Network!

It's Okay To Be Smart: How Do Bees Make Honey?
https://youtu.be/nZlEjDLJCmg

Gross Science: What's Living On Your Contact Lenses?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRMKzsU9zec

Gross Science: You Have Mites Living On Your Face
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMmCWx8vySs

--- More content from KQED Science, Northern California's PBS and NPR affiliate:

KQED Science: http://www.kqed.org/science
Tumblr: http://kqedscience.tumblr.com
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/kqedscience

Funding for Deep Look is provided in part by PBS Digital Studios and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Deep Look is a project of KQED Science, which is also supported by HopeLab, the David B. Gold Foundation, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation, the Vadasz Family Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Smart Family Foundation and the members of KQED.

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