About Dust Mites - Strange Bedfellows

Are you wondering why you or a family member has got unexplained allergy/asthma symptoms first thing in the morning? Do you spend countless hours cleaning around the house trying to minimize the symptoms to no avail? My friend had the same problem with her daughter, until we realized that these symptoms were caused by dust mites. I did tons of research before I could actually help her.

I'd like to share some of that with you now.

If you looked a dust mite enlarged, it would appear ferocious! In reality, dust mites are microscopic arachnids, the family that includes other mites, spiders, ticks and lice. They are only about 250-300 microns in size. You would need at least 10x magnification to see a dust mite. Their bodies are translucent, they have no eyes and no antennae but have a large hinged mouth part and eight hairy legs.

a dust mite

Male and female dust mites have different life cycles. A female dust mite can live 60-75 days depending on their living conditions. Those laying many eggs, live longer. Female dust mites can lay 50-100 eggs in a 4-6 week period. It does not take very long for a population of dust mites to grow exponentially.

Similar to humans, dust mites prefer a favorable environment to thrive and multiply. If the conditions seem hostile, they group together in clumps to protect the group until the conditions become suitable for their survival. Much like humans, a warm living area is vital. They also need a dark and damp environment with an abundance of food. A dust mite must retain about 75% of the total body mass in water in order to breed. When relative humidity drops below 50%, the colony considers themselves threatened with extinction and clumps for survival, significantly reducing the ability to multiply.

How Do I Know If I Have Dust Mites?

Dust mites are found where humans live and where humidity is conducive for them to survive. Dust mites live on a diet of our dead skin. They are scavengers not parasites; they do not bite us for skin, they eat skin that flakes off like dandruff and dry skin. The average human sheds about a million skin cells a day- that's quite a feast! Dust mites thrive in our mattresses, bedding, clothing, upholstered furniture like sofas and chairs, and carpeting. One average gram of household dust contains as many as 1000 dust mites.

The question is not whether dust mites are in your home but rather, is the dust mite population in your home at acceptable levels?

reduce dust mites

research shows that unmade beds reduce dust mite populations!

What if I have dust mite allergies?

Another way to think about dust mites would be “the waste collectors of dead skin cells”.  Just like mold spores in the air we breathe, dust mites are a necessary evil. Unfortunately, for dust mite allergy sufferers, there is no way to completely remove the population of dust mites from your home. The best you can hope to do is to reduce the population to levels that don't trigger your allergic response to their presence.

If you do suffer from dust mite allergies, you can find a list that will be helpful in controlling the dust mite population in your home on our page entitled: Dust Mite Cleaning.