Identification and Life Cycle
The Dust mite (Dermatophagoides spp.), are insect-like organisms that thrive in warm and humid environments. It is the most common cause of an allergy from house dust. Household insecticides are not effective on dust mites, but there are other ways to reduce exposure in the home.
The Dust Mite, due to its very miniscule size and translusent body, is not visible to the eye without magnification. They are close relatives of ticks and spiders. The adults have oval shaped bodies, eight hairy legs, no eyes, no antennae and a mouthpart group in front of the body. The females lay cream-colored eggs coated with a sticky substance to cling onto surfaces. She can lay up to 40 to 80 eggs singly or in groups of 3 to 5.
It has four stages; egg, larva, nymph and adult. A dust mite molts between life stages, and sheds their outer skin. The life cycle from egg to an adult is 1 month, and once an adult, it can live an additional 1 to 3 months.
Habits and Damage
Dust mites are microscopic insects that reside in most homes. They do not bite, but primarily feed on dead skin cells found in dust from humans, as well as pet dander, pollen, fungi and bacteria. They can thrive indoors, and especially peak in July and August when the weather is warm and the humidity is high. They do not drink water, but absorb the moisture from the air.
Dust mites are commonly found in mattresses, pillows, carpet, pet bedding, and upholstered furniture. They can get easily trapped in the fibers of furniture, bed linens, carpeting, etc.
Dust mites are a major cause in the development of asthma. They don’t carry diseases, but the airborne allergens produced from their feces and body fragments can cause skin irritation and trigger a severe allergic reaction in some. Each dust mite can produce about 10 to 20 waste particles per day. Typical symptoms can include itchiness, sneezing runny nose, inflamed eczema on the skin and watery eyes.
Common Signs Of Dust Mite Activity
- Beds & pillows.This is a main habitat for dust mites. A typical used mattress may have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites inside.
- Pet bedding. Dust mites not only feed on dead skin cells shed from humans, but also skin cells from pets.
- Upholstered furniture.A larger amount of mites can be found in areas of human and pet activity such as overstuffed sofa and chairs.
- Carpeting. Is an ideal microhabitat for mite development because carpeting and area rugs trap and accumulate dust, dander and moisture.
Prevention and Management
The best strategy for controlling mites is prevention. An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program can identify and help reduce and control dust mites.
The following steps can be taken to help reduce a problem with mites.
DUST MITES- They are found in most homes, especially in bedrooms and living areas. They are likely to be on beds, couches, carpets, rugs, toys and curtains. Cleanliness is key.
The following steps can be taken to help reduce a potential problem with dust mites.
- Wash bed linens weekly in warm or hot water, and shampoo/steam clean carpets once a year.
- Vacuum, mop floor and dust furniture weekly. Use a damp cloth on furniture instead of dry dusting.
- Encase mattresses, box springs & pillows in mite-proof covers.
- Avoid overstuffed upholstered furniture which collects dust. Instead, choose leather or vinyl.
- Reduce dust mites by lowering the humidity in your home at about 50% or below.
- Consider using an allergen-trapping air filter such as a HEPA-grade filter in the central air conditioning or heating system of the home.
- If serious allergies exist, it is best to have a “carpet-free” house.
- Replace wool or feathered bedding with synthetic materials.