If mites enter someone’s home in large numbers, they can affect a person’s health in a variety of ways, from merely being a nuisance to inflicting severe skin irritation and intense itching. Mites are tiny and are so numerous that even though most of them never encounter people, it is very common for people to encounter mites.
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What Are Mites?
“Mite” is a term that’s used to describe a large group of insect-like organisms. Some kinds of mites live on animals, including humans like us, while other varieties of these bugs feed on plants or insects.
Different Types of Mites
There are at least 18 different species of mites. The eight-legged mite passes through a total of four stages of development during its lifetime, including the egg, larva, nymph, and finally adult. Let’s review some of the most common types of mites that humans are likely to come in contact with during a typical day.
There are two primary species of chigger mites that bite humans and other mammals. They don’t suck your blood like ticks, but cut into the skin, injecting their saliva, and then they drink the liquefied tissue. A chigger may feed for several days, causing the area to become hardened, inflamed, and itchy. Chiggers spend most of their time in soil and most frequently live in rural areas.
House dust mites are common and are virtually invisible to the naked eye. Like cockroaches, they often cause issues with indoor allergies. Their feces can become airborne and may even trigger asthma attacks. Unlike chiggers, dust mites don’t live on people and rarely cause skin irritation. They feed primarily on flakes of dead skin that fall off both people and their pets. Dust mites live on upholstered furniture, bedding, mattresses, and carpeting.
What about spider mites? Spider mites generally live on the undersides of leaves and are known for attacking both indoor and outdoor plants. This species of mite can cause damage to foliage by puncturing its delicate parts during feeding. They can be especially destructive in greenhouses and are easily recognizable by their protective silk webs. Many species of the spider mite are quite common in North America, where they thrive in hot, dry conditions.
Clover mites can be red, green, or brown. True to their name, they feed on clover, fruit trees, and other plants. They are particularly fond of a well-fertilized lawn. Although clover mites don’t generally bite or cause health problems, they do leave a red stain behind on carpets and drapery. Clover mites are most active in fall and may enter homes when their food sources dry up, seeking refuge indoors as colder weather approaches.
A scabies infestation is the most common human mite infestation. These mites feed on skin and secretions, causing severe irritation and itching, especially at night. Scabies mites burrow into the skin, producing tunnels as long as one centimeter; this is where they lay their eggs just below the surface of the skin.
Most humans contract scabies as a result of direct contact with an infected person, although they can transfer from pets to humans and vice versa. In dogs, scabies mites cause a well-known condition called mange.
How to Get Rid of Mites
The first step in determining the cause of any skin or pulmonary irritation is to inspect the premises thoroughly. Mites are tiny creatures, and are so small their size makes proper identification difficult. Hire a professional to complete an in-home assessment and to identify any bugs discovered.
Seek immediate medical attention when exposure to mites causes skin irritation; this is especially true in the case of scabies infestations.
Make sure to wash all the clothing of a mite-infected person thoroughly. Bedding such as blankets, pillows, and hard-to-wash mattresses should be sealed in plastic covers to help reduce the number of mites and alleviate ongoing allergy symptoms. If you’re a person who regularly suffers from allergic reactions or asthma, consult your physician for advice.
Once identified, appropriate control measures can be employed based on your specific type of mite. Your home vacuum is a terrific weapon to use in your anti-mite arsenal. Infestations of clover mites can often be eliminated by vacuuming alone, although bedding, draperies, and furniture should also be cleaned regularly. If you find any clover mite nests around your home, remove them and vacuum the area around them thoroughly.
Vacuuming may prove to be less effective in controlling dust mites. Some old-school theories recommend cleaning your ductwork to remove dust mites; this may not be as effective as using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to remove dust mite particles and other airborne allergens.
Controlling the moisture level in your home is also vital. Mites take in both air and water through their body walls and prefer high humidity. Dust mite populations will suffer when humidity levels drop below 50 percent or less. On the other hand, high humidity may cause an explosion in mite populations, as much as 100 dust mites per gram of dust. Well-ventilated spaces in dry climates will have very few dust mites.
If other measures have failed to control your mites, consider consulting with a professional. When you opt for chemical control, professionals may help you choose and apply the correct substances to your floor and floor coverings to help reduce the number of dust mites in your home.
Some pesticides labeled for use against mites are designed to be used in grassy areas and work well against chiggers and clover mites. For chiggers, there are outdoor insect repellents available, which a professional can help you select for optimum effectiveness and safety. You may find this helps serve your first line of defense outdoors.
It’s essential to understand what mites are and how to deal with them. If you or someone you love has mites or is suffering from allergies in a dusty house, use this handy guide for direction and control measures.