The following conversation was edited for clarity.
KIT: Thank you so much for reaching out.
CLOVER MITE: Yeah the ‘red microspider’ thing was unfortunate. We were kind of shaking our heads about that one.
KIT: I’m so sorry. But I didn’t know what species you were!
CLOVER MITE: You also said that maybe we move so fast because we’re ‘constantly terrified.’ I think that rubbed some of us the wrong way. I mean, I know it did.
KIT: You move incredibly fast for creatures your size. It was meant as a compliment.
CLOVER MITE: (Exhaling loudly) Okay, one of the best ways to piss off a mite — like to the point of ‘Fight me dude’ — is that phrase you just used. I’m not going to repeat it. You know the one I mean. It’s a total no-fly zone for mites.
KIT: ‘For a creature your size?’
CLOVER MITE: Bro, for real? Are you trying to be rude?
KIT: Not at all! There’s just such an obvious difference in scale between mites and humans.
CLOVER MITE: And humans are smaller than trees, and trees are smaller than mountains, and mountains are smaller than the ocean, blah blah blah. Who cares?
KIT: My usual audience is humans. I describe things from their point of view. ‘Much smaller than humans’ was all I meant to convey.
CLOVER MITE: But it’s just an incredibly loaded phrase, right? ‘Smaller than’ is basically synonymous with “less important than,” or “less evolved,” or “less complicated.”
KIT: Well, I certainly don’t agree about ‘complicated.’ Even a small, newborn human is on some level quite complicated.
CLOVER MITE: Look, I want to help you. I can see you’re trying to do something good here. At least I think you are.
KIT: Can we talk about your color?
CLOVER MITE: We’re red.
KIT: It’s quite a vivid red, isn’t it?
CLOVER MITE: Thank you.
KIT: But I mean, doesn’t it attract predators?
CLOVER MITE: Some of our predators believe the color red connotes ‘poison.’
KIT: Why would they think that?
CLOVER MITE: It’s just a very common assumption.
KIT: But it’s erroneous, right? You aren’t poisonous.
CLOVER MITE: We don’t comment on that.
KIT: But you were the one who brought it up.
CLOVER MITE: I would have to go back and look at the transcript.
KIT: It was like five seconds ago. You brought it up.
CLOVER MITE: You’re starting to do it again.
KIT: In my defense, you said I made errors in my previous article. I just don’t want to make more of them now. Especially on something like poison, which seems fundamental.
CLOVER MITE: Are you worried we’ll poison humans?
KIT: Not really. But it speaks to the essence of a creature, doesn’t it? It’s like describing whether someone is ‘loving and generous,’ or ‘prickly and difficult.’ I mean, ‘poisonous’ is an important thing to know.
CLOVER MITE: We don’t think so.
KIT: You don’t think you’re poisonous?
CLOVER MITE: We don’t think the question of toxicity is one we need to answer, publicly.
KIT: So just like, ‘No comment?’
CLOVER MITE: If you don’t mind.
KIT: Some humans think you guys bite. I know it’s not true because I looked it up online. I think maybe the confusion stems from, if you see a mite on your arm and you rub it out, there’s a sort of red smear, which some people mistake for their own blood.
CLOVER MITE: Jesus. Christ.
KIT: It can’t be news to you that mites sometimes die when they come in contact with humans.
CLOVER MITE: Trigger warning much? What the fuck.
KIT: But you don’t bite, right? That was my point.
CLOVER MITE: Can you imagine if you were being interviewed by someone and in the middle of the interview — apropros of literally nothing — the person just started talking about acts of horrifying violence, about humans being smeared to death and reduced to bloody stains?
KIT: I didn’t think —
CLOVER MITE: Exactly! You didn’t think!
KIT: Hold on, let me finish. I didn’t think the stain was blood. I thought it was from your body’s coloring.
CLOVER MITE: We’re getting toward the end of anything productive, I think.
KIT: You don’t bite, is all I was saying.
CLOVER MITE: I want to make one final statement. It’s about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
CLOVER MITE: This is an incredibly hard time for clover mites in Ukraine.
KIT: I didn’t know there were clover mites in Ukraine.
CLOVER MITE: We’re all over the world, just like humans.
CLOVER MITES: Unlike humans, though, we don’t drop bombs on each other or set fire to fuel depots.
KIT: How on earth do you know about the fuel depot?
CLOVER MITE: We don’t roll tanks across fields, killing millions of insects. We don’t ignite fires which destroy thousands of acres of forest.
KIT: Ukraine is a total disaster right now. We can agree on that.
CLOVER MITES: We clover mites stand with our fellow mites in Kyiv and Kharkiv.
KIT: Got it. Well, I really want to thank you for contacting me. This was super helpful.
CLOVER MITE: When will the article come out?
KIT: I don’t know. Now?
CLOVER MITE: After an editor looks at it?
KIT: I mean … not really.
CLOVER MITE: You’re the editor! You’re the boss!
KIT: That’s a good way of looking at it. But no, my wife is the boss.
CLOVER MITE: Were you going to ask my name? I don’t need confidentiality or anything like that.
KIT: I didn’t know mites had names.
CLOVER MITE: Carl, with a ‘C.’ Born in your backyard. I’ve been to the other side of the fence, twice. Not a big deal.
KIT: Carl with a C … (writing)… Last name?
CLOVER MITE: Just Carl.
KIT: Thank you so much, Carl. I really appreciate you taking the time.
CLOVER MITE: I’m glad I could help out.