There are many allergens present both inside structures and the outside environment. These allergens can be something as natural as pollen or as man-made as latex. The intent of this article is to shed some light on a tiny arachnid which lives in virtually any home. Commonly known as a dust mite, it lives and thrives where we sleep and watch TV. Ever present though invisible to the naked eye, this mite sheds it’s skin as it grows. These skin sheds are known allergens and can pose a serious problem to those who have an allergy to these sheds. Along with their feces, dust mites are second only to plant pollen as the most common allergen to man.
Our company is a supplier and distributor of chemicals and equipment. Though most of what we sell are related to more traditional pests like ants and roaches, dust mites are a very real problem needing both know how and the right products to solve problem infestations. By minimizing dust mite populations within the home, those who reside there who are allergic to dust mites can live much more comfortably. In general, the products and procedures outlined below apply to dust mite problems and will control a local problem. But you may find our online information about OAK ITCH MITES, SCABIES, LICE and ITCH MITES helpful.
WHAT CAUSES DUST MITES?
Dust mites can be found in any home around the world. They are closely related to spiders and ticks and are similar in look to spider mites or chiggers. However, dust mites are small. So small are dust mites that they cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Dust mites live their lives on objects like couches, chairs, bedding, mattresses, stuffed toys and clothing. They need high humidity to survive – generally in excess of 60% – and a lot of food.
If you are unsure of local humidity levels, get one of our HUMIDITY MONITORS. It will keep track of both temperatures and humidity keeping records of lows and highs over time. This is very helpful when needing to identify problem locations in the home.
Dust mites live on dander which is primarily the shed skin from people and pets. Furniture and beds are key places where dander accumulates and it is in these areas where dust mites prosper.
It is not uncommon for a pillow to add over 10% of it’s weight in just 2 years due to live dust mites and their sheds!!! Furthermore, populations can exceed 10 million dust mites on any one mattress in less then 3 years! Though small as an individual, the accumulative impact the sheds of dust mites can have is well documented.
To help monitor local humidity in any room, install a monitor. These are quite small and discreet. But if they reveal high moisture levels, take action to reduce the amount of water in the room which will slow the natural develop of most any pest including dust mites.
WHO GETS A DUST MITE ALLERGY?
Pretty much anyone. Allergies and allergic reactions to dust mites do vary from person to person. Clearly, some people are not affected by their presence; for others dust mites pose a very real problem.
Though its believed an acute exposure to dust mites at a young age can have a life long impact, many adults can be suddenly affected and found to have an adverse reaction to their presence. Reactions include but are not limited to sneezing, itching, watery eyes, wheezing, headaches, fatigue and depression. Though not common, some people may develop a red rash. Most important is the fact that dust mites are impacting over 50% of asthmatics. These are people who need pure and allergen free air to breath. The fact that dust mites and the stuff on which they feed can easily get air borne makes them so much more of a threat to anyone that suffers from respiratory disorders.
DUST MITE BIOLOGY
Dust mites live a relatively short life. They will immediately begin feeding once they hatch. During the next month they will molt at least twice. Their skin sheds are a major allergen if not the most important. Clearly their feces are important as well since feces and skin sheds can accumulate over time. In their feces lies a very potent digestive juice which is thought to be another contributor or known allergen.
Once adulthood is reached, female dust mites will lay 50-100 eggs over a 1-2 month life cycle. Dust mites will migrate throughout the home taking advantage of furniture, pet bedding, carpeting, blankets and mattresses. They do this by hitching a ride on ones clothing which is another prime living location.
Remember, dust mites need dander – basically human and pet skin – to live. This dander is most commonly found on furniture, carpeting and bedding but due to it’s light weight, dander will float around to most any part of the home. In fact, over 75% of the “dust” one sees in a sunbeam shining through any window is dander. People shed over 1/5 of an ounce of dander WEEKLY so there is an ever replenished supply of the very food dust mites need to live. For this reason it is conceivable that most any room could harbor populations. However, only the rooms with ideal humidity and heat will allow for rapid and advanced populations.
DUST MITE MYTHS
Like most any insect or animal, there are a lot of unfounded fears and misunderstandings about dust mites. Knowing what is and is not important when dealing with them inside the home will better enable you to address the key issues when you want to reduce their populations.
FALSE: DUST MITES THRIVE IN AIR DUCTS. Generally speaking, dust mites do not like the temperature, humidity or lack of food which is pretty much a constant in any normal and healthy air duct system. Don’t waste your time getting them cleaned out if your intention is to get rid of dust mites. The only viable reason for cleaning air ducts is to remove mold, mildew and other problematic fungus growth or spores which could certainly pose a problem. Just don’t do it for controlling dust mites as this won’t help. Spend your time and money by focusing on your living area. This will have the most profound positive impact and in most cases, solve dust mite problems.
FALSE: DUST MITES CAN BE VACUUMED OUT OF THE HOME. Again, not true. A good vacuum can reduce dust, dander, dust mite sheds, dust mite feces and other known allergens which will help people sensitive to such matter. However, dust mites are generally not out in the open. Remember, they thrive in mattresses, furniture, carpeting and other locations where vacuums will have little impact. Trying to reduce dust mite allergens by vacuuming is probably a waste of time. However, keep vacuuming! But do it for the purpose of keeping the structure clean and helping to reduce that which the mites need – dander. And if you really want to have a big impact, use a vacuum which has a liquid filtration system. Such designs are much better at filtering out the known allergens compared to typical paper filters.
FALSE: SPECIAL AIR FILTERS WILL REMOVE ALL DUST MITES. Again, not true. Though HEPA filters will remove many types of allergens, they will not address the most important part of dust mite management: dealing with them at their source. Filters are definitely an asset and should be installed in homes where individuals can benefit from the extra filtration. But install them for just that reason, not for removing dust mites. It’s not going to happen.
FALSE: SPRAYING FOR DUST MITES IS A WASTE OF TIME. Again, not true. It is easy to kill a dust mite and the few products which are labeled for dust mite control do a good job. However, as explained earlier, the real problem is the skin sheds and feces of the dust mite. If in fact there is a dust mite problem in the home, it will take more then just spraying for them to get the desired results. However, killing off as many dust mites as possible will certainly help the problem and is part of any well integrated dust mite control plan.
HOW TO TREAT FOR DUST MITES
There are several things which can be done to help minimize the impact dust mites. Reducing and minimizing conditions conducive to dust mites will help create an environment which is more comfortable and healthier for everyone.
Furthermore, the products and devices used for dust mite and dust mite allergen removal will work on many other pests and allergens too. This means your efforts will be impacting several variables any one of which could be just as much if not more important then the dust mite itself.
BEST DUST MITE SPRAY
Treating for dust mites can be done effectively with one of two options. The aerosol is good for small apartments and spot treatments where you can’t spray a liquid. So if your home is 2000 sq/ft or less and the problem is limited to a room or two, manually treating the infested rooms can be managed with our aerosol. But if your home is larger and you have a lot of carpets needing to be sprayed, use a liquid. The concentrate is the most cost effective option for large jobs but either will work when done properly.
AEROSOL SPRAY FOR DUST MITES
The first is an aerosol. MULTIPURPOSE INSECT KILLER is an odorless aerosol, easy to apply, much like using “hair spray” and works quickly.
Its safe enough to be applied over comforters, pillows, mattresses and bedding and can be used as often as needed. And it handles all pests so a good option for spot treating or to use for spot treating even if you’re using the liquid option below.
The main strength of MultipPurpose is that it can be applied over carpets, furniture and even up high where pets might travel but where its difficult to use a liquid spray.
One can will be enough to treat up to 1000 sq/ft of surface area and should be applied as needed. This means having to spray 2-3 times a week might be needed until you “break” the dust mite cycle. After the initial, plan on treating once a month so they don’t come back.
LIQUID SPRAY FOR DUST MITES
For large homes or if you have a lot of thick carpeting to spray, you’ll be better served using a liquid.
The best option for this is BITHOR.
Oder-less and fast acting, Bithor contains two actives and the second active works by affecting hatching eggs after the initial treatment kills off all adults.
Bithor is safe enough to be applied anywhere including mattresses, furniture and carpets. It’s water based so any fabric that can get “wet” by water and not negatively affected will be a good place to use it. Treatments will kill dust mites on contact and you can vacuum afterward to remove carcasses and exoskeleton.
The following “short video” (less than 60 seconds long) explains how safe Bithor is to use in the home:
Mix 1 oz per gallon of water and plan on getting about 1,000 sq/ft of coverage per mixed gallon of spray. Treat every 2 weeks until the problem is gone; spot treat with the Multipurpose listed above in between liquid applications.
And consider using the MINI MISTER to make the application. It creates a super light mist so ideal for treating sensitive surfaces without over applying (video below).
Once the mites are gone, treat every 2-3 months to ensure they don’t return.
A good PUMP SPRAYER will be needed for applying the Bithor.
Here’s the Mini Mister. The following “short video” (less than 60 seconds) shows you how this performs and why its perfect for use with Bithor.
As you can see, its well suited for covering all surfaces like furniture, rugs, carpeting and baseboards where dust mites like to hide.
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