Dust mites migrate as a group, 'swarming' around houses,in search of moisture, reports a new study.
The movement takes place when mites leave a dry area in search of higher humidity-the greatest source of which in a house is its human occupants.
The new study has revealed the previously unknown sociable side of house dust mites (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus).
"We expected the mites to move to areas of higher humidity, because they are dependent on air moisture to survive," the BBC quoted co-author Anne-Catherine Mailleux, as saying.
"However, the fact that they attract each other and prefer to move together rather than independently from one another was an important finding," she said.
During their study the researchers observed that male adult mites and nymphs moved as a group from a dry area in search of higher humidity.
When offered the choice of more than one path providing access to moister air, mites were able to perceive which branch previous mites had chosen. More often than not, they then followed these other mites.
"So far, mites had not been considered as "social" animals, and this is the first study that shows that they tend to stick together when on the move. This suggests that they need each other for some reason, that they are better in a group than alone," explained Mailleux.
"Knowing how mites behave can be very helpful when taking measures to prevent their populations from growing," added Mailleux.
The findings were published in the journal Ethology.