Household Pests: Mites
Mites are tiny, sometimes microscopic, relatives of ticks. Few are pests. Most are essential inhabitants of the soil, and predators of other mites, insects, and related invertebrates. Here are a few that may present problems at home.
House dust mites are microscopic. They are most abundant in humid regions and proliferate in mattresses and linens where they feed on minute flakes of skin shed by people and pets. Air ducts are usually too dry for them. Their airborne fecal matter and shed exoskeletons can aggravate asthma in some people. Dehumidifiers can make a room less hospitable to dust mites; and using a vacuum with a HEPA filter can be helpful, too. Clean frequently and thoroughly.
Bird mites are normally associated with birds and their nests, but after nests are vacated, they can move indoors in large numbers and begin biting people and pets. Simply remove abandoned bird nests, and or take measures to prevent birds from nesting on the exterior of your home and inside your chimney (Chimney Swifts).
Clover mites do not bite, but can be a nuisance in spring and fall when they migrate from lawns in search of more favorable temperatures and humidity. They avoid hot, dry weather in spring, and cold, dry weather in autumn. Too much nitrogen fertilizer in your lawn may also cause them to disperse. Do not allow live plants, including grass, to contact the exterior of your home so that mites do not have an avenue to get inside.
Tropical Rat Mites
The Tropical Rat Mite is parasitic on rodents, so is problematic in restaurants, warehouses, offices, and dwellings that have rodent infestations, or have had recent rodent issues. The mites then seek alternate hosts, including people. Bites from these 1 millimeter arachnids are painful and can cause itching, irritation, and dermatitis. Exclude and control rodents to minimize the potential for a Tropical Rat Mite infestation.
Relief From Mite Bites
Should you find yourself bitten by bird or rat mites, avoid scratching the itch. Scratching can lead to secondary infection, far worse than the bites themselves. Try products After Bite® for instant relief or the new The Itch Eraser®, and consult your physician if symptoms do not alleviate.
Find more articles on how to deal with bugs and pest around the home in our Common Household Pest Series.