House Dust Mites

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House dust mites have lived on earth for 23 million years. They are nest dwelling scavengers known to colonize and infest warm, dark and humid areas. In addition to consuming rotting discarded skin scales, as a scavenger, they will eat almost anything organic such as molds, fungi, pollen grains, insect scales, bacteria and plant fibers. Invisible to the naked eye due to their very small size and translucent bodies, one must use a magnifying glass to see them.

Characteristics

  • House dust mites don’t bite
  • House dust mites are shaped like a bean
  • House dust mites have evolved without sight
  • Adult house dust mites’ body weight is 75% water
  • The dust mite considers its dropping as food
  • Exposure to dust mites’ excrement may cause asthma in children
  • Active digestive enzymes, found in mite droppings, disintegrate leftover scraps turning them into nourishment
  • The active digestive enzymes found in its droppings can kill delicate defense cells (human tissue) thus entering the blood stream of the human body triggering symptoms of asthma, rhinitis (hay fever), eczema and conjunctivitis
  • Adult house dust mites have eight legs, each with a sucker and hooks
  • House dust mites will hide from light and burrow deep into a mattress clinging on with powerful hooks and suckers on each of their eight legs
  • Adult house dust mites measure 0.2 to 0.3 millimeters (0.008 to 0.012 inches) in length
  • House dust mites travel by clinging to socks, soft toys, feathers, fur, pajamas or anything that will give them a place to hide while allowing them to be transported to a bed
  • Due to the abundance of dander, the bed is the most common place to find house dust mites
  • House dust mites may also be found in living areas especially carpet, furniture, and clothing
  • Optimal conditions for a mite colony occurs at a temperature of 77°F and 75% relative humidity

Reproduction

  • Carpets are a perfect habitat for dust mites to breed
  • After 6 to 12 days the egg will hatch
  • House dust mites can live for six to eight weeks
  • House dust mites have five life stages: Egg, Larva, Protonymph, Tritonymph and Adult
  • An adult female house dust mite may lay 1 to 3 eggs a day totaling 60 to 100 eggs in the last 5 weeks of her life
  • Females lay up to 80 eggs and there are several stages of immatures. Populations can explode during humid months as mites are excellent at absorbing moisture from the air

Prevention

  • Hardwood floors instead of carpets
  • Changing the bed linen weekly reduces the risk of dust mites
  • Dust mite mattress covers protect your bedding from dust mites
  • Unmade beds allowing air flow/dry conditions have fewer dust mites
  • Vacuuming a mattress will reduce some of the dust that mites consider as food
  • A house dust mite colony will not thrive with the humidity below 54%
  • Maintain humidity less than 45% with a dehumidifier during summer and a room temperature of 71 degrees
  • Washing bedding weekly in hot water that is at least 140 degrees then place in a hot tumble dryer for 10 minutes kills dust mites
  • Placing soft toys and infested fabrics in a plastic bag and letting them sit in the freezer for 12 hours will kill house dust mites

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