Some insects, for example, can go for days without air. Ants, for example, really don't need much air at all to survive.
As for where the mites come from,
well, they come from you. They live on your skin, in your clothes, everywhere. They find the cheese and migrate to it.
One of the best ways to prevent cheese mites? gloves on your hands and nets on your hair, or at least be sure and wash up good before going after your cheeses.
My experience has also been, they don't seem to like cooler temps very well.