mite bites

  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    The problem is not with the verb, that is fine: insects bite or sting.

    The problem is with "mite". In BE at least, nobody attributes a bite to a mite, they are far too small: you can be bitten by a mosquito; a flea, a tick, a bug/insect, etc. but not a mite.

    I think it would help if you could explain what exactly it is that did the biting.
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    The problem is not with the verb, that is fine: insects bite or sting.

    The problem is with "mite". In BE at least, nobody attributes a bite to a mite, they are far too small: you can be bitten by a mosquito; a flea, a tick, a bug/insect, etc. but not a mite.

    I think it would help if you could explain what exactly it is that did the biting.
    What do mites do, Paul? I agree that they don't bite. What do they do? I don't think that "I had a mite yesterday" sounds right. How can one have it? I know that they are skin parasites and blood keeps them alive.
     
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    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    I don't think that "I had a mite yesterday" sounds right. No, it doesn't. You would need to say "I was bitten by a mite yesterday."

    However, even this is not usual as the speaker would (if possible or suspected) always describe the mites using the full name: "I was bitten by a cat mite yesterday." This is why I asked you to say what sort of mite you were imagining.

    This site, which is American, is very informative on mites: http://delusion.ucdavis.edu/mites.html You will see that the majority of mites originate in animals and have a defining name. Some will bite, some will burrow.

    Human mites are microscopic: they don't do much. They usually feed on tiny flakes of dead skin. The exception is scabies which burrow. We do not say "I had an attack of scabies mites." We say, "I had an attack of scabies." or "I had scabies." Here, scabies is the name of the mite and also the infestation.
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    I don't think that "I had a mite yesterday" sounds right. No, it doesn't. You would need to say "I was bitten by a mite yesterday."

    However, even this is not usual as the speaker would (if possible or suspected) always describe the mites using the full name: "I was bitten by a cat mite yesterday." This is why I asked you to say what sort of mite you were imagining.

    This site, which is American, is very informative on mites: http://delusion.ucdavis.edu/mites.html You will see that the majority of mites originate in animals and have a defining name. Some will bite, some will burrow.

    Human mites are microscopic: they don't do much. They usually feed on tiny flakes of dead skin. The exception is scabies which burrow. We do not say "I had an attack of scabies mites." We say, "I had an attack of scabies." or "I had scabies." Here, scabies is the name of the mite and also the infestation.
    There are many different sorts of mites, yes. I agree that some of them burrow, but can we say "I had a mite burrowed in my neck yesterday" or "A mite burrowed in my hand yesterday"?
     
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    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    I think much of the fault was mine. The idea of mites in relation to humans, to me, revolves mainly around "bed mites" which co-exist with humans and are harmless and ubiquitous.

    To test this, I took my experimental volunteer (my wife) and asked what she thought I meant if I said, "I was bitten by a mite." Her reactions was, "Mites are those tiny things, do they bite?"

    The mites listed on the web page are quite rare in the UK and are thus sufficiently remarkable to warrant a full description.

    Looking back, in places where mites are commoner and more often spoken of, "Yesterday I was bitten by a mite" is fine. But in UK, I would expect the remark to be: "Something bit me yesterday - I think it was from the cat."
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    I think much of the fault was mine. The idea of mites in relation to humans, to me, revolves mainly around "bed mites" which co-exist with humans and are harmless and ubiquitous.

    To test this, I took my experimental volunteer (my wife) and asked what she thought I meant if I said, "I was bitten by a mite." Her reactions was, "Mites are those tiny things, do they bite?"

    The mites listed on the web page are quite rare in the UK and are thus sufficiently remarkable to warrant a full description.

    Looking back, in places where mites are commoner and more often spoken of, "Yesterday I was bitten by a mite" is fine. But in UK, I would expect the remark to be: "Something bit me yesterday - I think it was from the cat."
    Sometimes people here, do refer to them as bites, but I agree that they don't bite. My weird question also confused your wife :). My apologies ;).
     

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    Sometimes people here, do refer to them as bites, but I agree that they don't bite.

    The types of mites that occasionally feed on humans do bite when they need a blood meal. (Bird mites for example produce nasty bites that sting like nothing else followed by intense itching.) The mite bites may cause a rash-like reaction, a dermatitis.

    You can certainly say (AmE), “…he has numerous mite bites.”

    The scabies mite that burrows into the superficial skin feeds mainly on skin cells and in this case you could say, “he’s got scabies, he’s got a scabies rash” etc.

    Bic.
     

    cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    "Mosquitoes don't bite, they suck!" is a cutesy phrase I've seen on a t-shirt or two which may have a bit of relevance here. I believe the distinction lies in whether the animal which inflicts the wound has jaws (bite) or a proboscis (suck). But we all call the mosquito's assault a "bite," even though it's made by a proboscis. Go figure.:confused:
     
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