Aug 26, 2009

Mite Cleaning Crew

I've always found the idea of 'cleaner animals' endearing: like the yellow tangs who clean sea turtles of parasites, or the birds who pluck ticks off of buffalo and rhino hides. And for some reason, that same disposition lends itself to finding the scene below almost a bit heart-warming.

Those are little cleaner mites, as seen beneath an electron microscope, who have set up shop on cockroaches to keep them tidy.

Photo source: Jay Yoder via Popular Science

Specifically, these mites are eating moist debris from around the breathing holes of a Madagascar hissing cockroach. The cockroaches are said to harbor some 14 different species of mold, and the mites help keep the mold in check. That makes the roaches less of an allergen for us humans, though the mites themselves are an allergen. Double-edged sword. Seems you just can't win with mites.

Thanks for the article, Ida.

1 comment:

Ellen said...

I don't want to get close enough to a hissing cockroach to find out if I am allergic to his mites or not!