In the 21st century of Earth, there was a myth that humans would, in their lifetime, eat around eight spiders while they were sleeping. The logic of this myth was that a spider, seeking a place to hide or call home, would crawl into the sleeping human’s mouth; the human would then reflexively swallow, causing them to consume the arachnid. While this was only an urban legend, in the present the myth has become somewhat closer to fact, though with some significant differences. The Bite Mite has made this 21st-century myth closer to reality than it ever has been before.
	Originally from the planet Janus, Bite Mites have spread throughout the galaxy due to explorers inadvertently carrying them aboard their ships, having become unwitting hosts while sleeping outside. Bite Mites are tiny parasitic insect-like creatures, with a size of only a single cubic millimeter before they find a host. They are black with a round squishy body, three spider-like legs, and a single dark eye. The Bite Mite’s “mouth” is located on the underside of its body in the form of a pair of tubes: one for taking in matter, and the other for expelling it. After hatching, they will seek out the mouth of an unconscious living creature. If the creature has teeth, the Bite Mite will crawl into the mouth and seek out one of the bigger teeth (e.g., a molar in a human). Once a suitable tooth is located, the Bite Mite will crawl around to the back of the tooth, before projecting a stream of a special chemical substance from its output tube. This chemical acts both as an acid, creating a hole in the tooth, and a natural painkiller, numbing the area in order to not alert the creature. During this process, the Bite Mite will suck up the melted enamel through its intake tube. It will continue to do this until it has made a hole big enough for it to crawl into, which it will then proceed to do, with its “mouth” facing outwards. Once inside the tooth, the legs and the eye will shrivel up before disappearing completely, with their cells being recycled as food. The Bite Mite will then use the enamel that they harvested with their acid to create a shell around their exposed side (while still leaving an opening for the “mouth”), mimicking the feel and, to some extent, the appearance of the creature’s tooth. Throughout their lifetime, they will continue to liquify and consume the enamel of the tooth, eventually growing and deforming to fill the whole thing if left unchecked. While at the beginning the Bite Mite’s shell will only cover the exposed portion of its body, as it grows the shell will grow into the inside of the tooth in order to act as additional support to keep the tooth from cracking and killing the Bite Mite. They will also continuously secrete a chemical substance through pores in their skin, acting as a numbing agent in order to avoid being detected.
       	Once established, Bite Mites will leech off of the food that the host eats, similar to a tapeworm. To do this, once the host is eating the Bite Mite will suck in chewed up food through its intake tube. As the creature is generally rather small, this wouldn’t be a big problem on its own, as it can only eat so much. However, leeching off the host’s food is not the only detrimental behavior that this parasite engages in. To manipulate its host’s behavior, the Bite Mite produces several behavior-altering chemicals. In order to make the host take in more sustenance, the Bite Mite will produce a strong appetite-enhancing drug and spit it down the throat of the host. To make the host eat foods that are nutritionally beneficial to the creature, it will produce a chemical that induces specific cravings and spit it down the throat of the host (Bite Mites generally prefer foods rich in chemicals that it can more easily repurpose, such as citrus fruits, peppers, coffee, etc). The most damaging behavior that the Bite Mite engages in is the fact that it will spew an acidic substance (less damaging than the chemical used to hollow out a tooth) at the other teeth, causing an increase in tooth decay. It does this in order to make the host more reliant on the tooth that the Bite Mite resides in. There is also the fact that any waste product the creature produces is also spewed down the host’s throat. While this is essentially harmless, it tends to affect the host’s moral if they learn that this has happened to them, and informing people of this trait of the Bite Mite has been shown to be more effective in causing them to be vigilant and observe proper cleanliness protocols than informing them of any of the other things that the Bite Mite does.
        Once a Bite Mite has achieved a relatively stable lifestyle, it will begin to produce a chemical that causes the host to crave foods high in various proteins. Once the mite has enough protein in its system, it will begin producing microscopic spores within its body. Once it is done, it will release these spores into the mouth of the host while simultaneously shooting an irritant into the throat. This causes the host to cough violently, releasing the spores of the Bite Mite and transporting them across the wind. It is because of this that a single passenger or crew member with a Bite Mite in one of their teeth pose a health risk to the entire ship that they are on. A Bite Mite will continue to do this every so often, though it has evolved to instinctively control the amount that it does so in order to reduce the risk of overcrowding. One interesting thing to note about the Bite Mite’s reproduction is that, while they reproduce asexually, they still have a decent amount of genetic diversity with their species. This is because when they take in enamel from a host’s tooth it alters their DNA in minor ways and therefore, it alters the DNA of their offspring. Some would say that this makes the host a parent to the young Bite Mites, but this is frankly a ridiculous and unscientific notion.
        A Bite Mite will live until it is either killed or it runs out of food. This usually means that it will live until either its host dies or the tooth it is residing in is knocked out or pulled out. Unfortunately, there is no effective way to deal with an established Bite Mite other than pulling the tooth out itself, as even if the Bite Mite is removed the tooth will be too weakened to be useful. Not only that, but with the Bite Mite no longer numbing the tooth’s nerves, the former host will almost certainly be in extreme pain. Fortunately, if the Bite Mite is still fairly young and small, it can be safely extracted by most dentists and replaced with an ordinary filling.
There are some individuals who intentionally let a Bite Mite live inside of them. This is despite the fact that doing so is considered a class C health violation and is illegal in sixty-three percent of occupied space. Those who do this have often had all of their non-occupied teeth replaced with dentures in order to get around the issue of the Bite Mite’s hazardous chemicals. The reasons that people do this are varied. Some do it in an attempt to gain weight, somewhat similar to the 19th-century Earth weight loss method of intentionally becoming host to a tapeworm (which did not work exceptionally well). Others do it in an attempt to branch out and try different foods, utilizing the cravings that the Bite Mite induces. There are also those who, for some reason, just think Bite Mites make good pets. Whatever the reason, if one of these individuals is found on your ship, it is generally considered proper procedure to put them in quarantine until they either consent to having the Bite Mite removed or are able to be safely escorted off the vessel. This is to reduce the risk of them suddenly coughing up hundreds of spores. In addition, it is highly recommended to sanitize the vessel in order to exterminate any spores the Bite Mite might have previously produced.
        As their original home planet, Janus, has effectively been an ice planet for roughly the last 10,000 Earth years, Bite Mites are endothermic at the beginning of their lives. However, once they have found a host, they stop producing their own body heat in order to save energy, due to the fact that the host’s mouth provides both an ample source of heat and shelter from the elements.
	Bite Mites lack auditory organs, but are able to sense vibrations in the ground through their legs in order to detect potential threats. This ability is, of course, lost once they find a host and their legs shrivel up. They cannot taste, but are able to detect scents through pores in their skin in order to find potential hosts. Their eyesight is fairly lacking, and with one eye their depth perception is almost nonexistent. One interesting trait that the Bite Mite seems to possess is the ability to tell whether someone is unconscious. This is despite the fact that Bite Mites are notoriously lacking in intelligence. Numerous tests have been performed, and Bite Mites have shown the ability to accurately determine whether a seemingly unconscious being is truly unconscious or is simply pretending approximately 98.6% of the time. It is not currently known how they are able to do this. One popular theory is that they use their sensitive legs to feel for slight differences in breathing between conscious and unconscious entities. However, this does not seem to be the case, as they have demonstrated this ability with species that do not breathe at all, such as the Cessnells. How Bite Mites are able to do this is currently under study.
	Doctor Flromxon is a dental surgeon well regarded in their field and has seen, by their estimate, at least ten thousand patients suffering from Bite Mites. They recently accepted an interview from the Galactic News Agency, and had the following to say:
	“Honestly, I don’t understand why there’s not being more of an effort put forth to eradicate these pests. For one thing, they’re an invasive species which has now spread to several million planets. Not only that, but they’re a parasite! I thought people were scared of parasites. I guess people don’t really care if ‘all it does is hurt your teeth’. Did you know that in several species, dental problems can lead to incredibly serious diseases? For example, in humans, gum disease can lead to heart disease. You know, the heart, the thing that keeps the nutrients flowing through their bodies? Why aren’t people more alarmed? And don’t get me started on the ones who keep them as pets...
	Not only that, but many species place cultural importance on their teeth. Have you ever had to tell a Bellamuta that one of their tusks would have to be removed because at this point there was barely any tusk left? Here’s a tip, avoid doing so if you can. I still have the scars from the incident, and the repairs to the office weren’t exactly cheap.
	Ugh… I’m just glad that I’ll never have to deal with those disgusting little [PROFANITY EXPUNGED] personally. You know, because of the whole not having teeth thing. My species is one of the lucky ones in that regard.”

	As invasive species go, Bite Mites are among the least problematic. There has not been a single recorded instance of Bite Mites so much as upsetting any ecosystems that they have come in contact with, nor has there been any recorded instances of someone dying or being permanently or irreversibly harmed as a result of playing host to a Bite Mite. However, they have significantly increased costs related to sanitation and dental care across several economies. There are debates within several circles, from dentistry to ecosystem preservation, about what actions, if any, should be taken to deal with these creatures. For now, though, Bite Mites seem to be a nuisance that’s here to stay.