Meet The Arachnids Living On Your Face

12:22 minutes

facemite on a SEM microscope
Everyone has face mites—including you. But they have a fascinating evolutionary story to tell. Credit: USDA

This interview was recorded live at an event in San Francisco, California. We also talked about the future of AI and environmental justice.

Next time you look in the mirror, consider that tiny, wriggling mites haveyes, yours. In fact, you may have an evolving colony unique to your own skin! But don’t worry, they probably aren’t doing you any harm. 

In this interview recorded live at the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco, Ira talks with entomologist Michelle Trautwein of the California Academy of Sciences about why face mites live in our skin, where we get them (spoiler: thank your parents!), and how mite lineages can help reconstruct patterns of human migration around the globe. 

Plus: get up-close and personal with these tiny crawling companions in a video from KQED’s Deep Look series.

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Segment Guests

Michelle Trautwein

Michelle Trautwein is the curator of Entomology at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, California.

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Christopher Intagliata was Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.

About Ira Flatow

Ira Flatow is the host and executive producer of Science FridayHis green thumb has revived many an office plant at death’s door.

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