These microscopic creatures are hard to see with the naked eye but manifest their presence with many clues. Dust mites, specifically, are responsible for many allergies, asthma symptoms and other uncomfortable conditions which make them undesirable in the home. Dust mites do not bite, but some mistake bed bug bites for as possible dust mite bites.
Many mites may live outdoors, living freely on birds, rats and other creatures, but some find their way inside the home due to readily available food sources and ideal habitats. They are parasites that feed on animals and sometimes humans. They have even been known to feed on molds and are carriers of disease.
Mites travel on humans or animals to move around freely, in search of their next meal. They are partial to warm, humid locations and survive in most countries of the world. These insects are known to attach themselves to honeybees, which have a thick, fury coat that allows for easy attachment, but they also will travel on rats, mice, birds and other mammals, including domesticated pets. Mites may change hosts at any time and typically feed on three to four hosts during their short lifetime.
Dust mites are most common in the home and may be more commonly found in the bedroom or kitchen areas. Carpets, bedding and furniture all provide desirable habitats, and they may also choose to feed on these items. They may also feed on partially decomposed food in the home and can cause structural damage if there is a large enough population.
Life Cycle of Mites
The average life cycle of a mite is usually only between 17 to 19 days. Dust mites produce an astonishing amount of fecal matter for their size, largely due to the fact they have no stomach and may produce as many as 2000 particles during their short life span. This amount can quickly add up due to rapid population counts, and they can create entire infestations of a home in a matter of weeks.
The female will commonly lay her eggs in carpets, furniture and bedding. If a female mates successfully, she may live for up to 70 days and can lay between 80 and 100 eggs during this time (though eggs are most commonly laid in the final five weeks). The males do not live nearly as long. Females are not known to be protective of their young and usually lay eggs in a location which will provide a first meal to newly hatched larvae. After this time, the larvae will molt, or shed its skin, and require frequent feeding before reaching full maturity.
Mites and Humans
These microscopic creatures may present health problems when they live in close proximity to humans. Common problems include asthma, hay fever, and even skin conditions such as eczema. Dust mites are notably the leading cause of dust allergens, and in particular are the most commonly cited source of asthma. Arctic mites are one of the few species which are not infectious to humans. Most other species, however, are infectious due to their parasitic properties.
Mites are a parasite, but they also choose to live on other parasitic animals. They are largely responsible for transferring disease amongst humans and other animals. If evidence of mites is found within a home, pest control methods should be sought.
Pest Control for Mites
Mites may present many health conditions in the home if untreated. They are considered a domestic pest. Pest control methods should be considered in the case of infestation. Many products may be labeled for use with ticks; please read the small print to ensure the correct product is applicable.
Prevention tips includes:
Monitoring pets: Try to prevent pets (and family members) from going into long grasses where these critters may be waiting for a host. You can purchase tick repellent treatments from pet stores and vets, which may help prevent or deter parasites.
Maintain cleanliness outside your home: Birds nests, piles of wood and rotting organic matter can all attract an array of unwelcome guests. These passing creatures may also be hosts to mites. Grass should be regularly trimmed and garbage cans securely fastened to prevent these pests.
Maintain secure openings to your home: All windows and doors should be correctly framed and any cracks or crevices repaired to prevent pests from coming inside.
Inside the home: Thoroughly clean or steam carpets, rugs, mattresses and other heavy fabrics to ensure no mites are hiding. Try to keep a low humidity inside the home if possible. You can also raise the temperature slightly to help discourage populations.
In the case of a recent rat infestation or something similar, sanitation is essential. Mites may exist in areas where excrement was left behind. These insects can be alive, and may present themselves as a new pest in turn.
If a mite infestation is possible, consider the following:
Insecticides: Products clearly marked for use with mites may be used. DOT powder is most commonly recommended and application should follow considerate reading of the instructions.
Replacing furniture or carpets: Where bedding or other items have been infested, it is often advised to replace these items, leaving notice with the infested items to prevent further escalation in other homes.
Professional extermination: These creatures may hide in the smallest of places and it may prove seemingly impossible to reduce the population using only do-it-yourself products. In these cases or with recurring populations, professional extermination may be desirable.
Mites Scientific Name: Tydeidae
These eight-legged creatures are loosely related to spiders and scorpions. The have a small, round body but do not have wings;. Because they are microscopic, they are incredibly hard to see and are much smaller than ticks. This means they can go for long periods of time in the home unnoticed.
There are many variations of mites which include: spider mites, gall mites, sarcoptic mites, house dust mites, demodex mites and mange mites. They are named largely on their environmental conditions in which they are found. Dust mites are most commonly found in the home.
A tropical genus is known to be the strongest species in the world in relation to its mass. It can lift up to 120 times its own body weight. This is over five times more than what scientific evidence suggested was possible of something so small.