First of all, what are cheese mites and what do they do? The humble cheese mite belongs to the family of other popular species, such as lice and ticks. Yet these mites are of a finer pedigree than their more unrefined cousins. They find sanctuary nestling in the folds of certain famous cheeses (as opposed to human skin). They burrow in the rind, delighting in life's lactic pleasures, and when their short lives end after two long weeks, they leave behind a skeleton of flavor-filled dust. This dust is highly coveted among cheesemakers in the know--in fact, cheese mites are a sign of proper age and elevage.
Mimolette, that hearty orange cow's milk cheese from France (pictured above), is missing a key ingredient without that famous mite dust. If you find the thought of a colony of mites running around the rind of your favorite hard cheese as unappetizing as it sounds, take comfort in the fact that the mites are long gone before you'll ever snack on them. In fact, the presence of that famous mite dust is a sign that a cheese is made by hand, without any of the industrial sabotage that removes precious flavor and personality from many of our favorite cheeses.
The cheese mite, in this light, appears the humble stalwart, standing bravely in the face of industrialization, calmly telling mass-produced impostors to back off as they slowly work to add complexity and nuance to continue their noble work of helping milk's great leap towards immortality.