Dust Mite Fact SheetDust mites are microscopic creatures that are the second leading cause of allergy, behind pollen. These mites are about 250 – 300 microns in size and cannot be seen withoutmagnification. Dust mites are arachnids, which makes them related to spiders and ticks.There are two species: the North American dust mite is Dermatophagoides farinae
theEuropean dust mite is Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus. They have 8 legs and have nointernal skeleton. The exoskeleton is shed as the mite grows. The dust mite diet ismainly shed human skin cells, but they will also eat other dust components such asanimal dander, pollen, fish food flakes, and crumbs of pet food and cereal if necessary for survival. Dust mites do not drink water, but absorb it from the environment and fromtheir food supply. In cases of extreme low humidity, dust mites will become dormant or die.Adult dust mites live for about a month and female dust mites live for about 8 to 10weeks. The female lays eggs singly or in small groups. From egg to adult takes about 3to 4 weeks. Over their life span, the mite will produce hundreds of fecal pellets. It is a protein in the fecal pellets and the shed exoskeletons that cause allergic reactions inhumans.Dust mites collect, live, and breed where food is readily available. Since fiber-filledsurfaces collect the most dust mite food, they have the highest concentrations of dustmites and their waste products. Dust mites are most at homes in mattresses (it doesn’tmatter if it is a conventional or some special foam mattress), pillows, box springs, blankets, sheets, upholstered furniture, rugs, carpets, draperies, curtains, sheets,decorative fabric panels and tapestries hung on walls, pet beds, as well as the interiors of automobiles.It does little good to actually kill dust mites, as dead dust mites bodies still contain the problem causing protein and killing dust mites does nothing to remove the fecal matter.Dust mite control is all about controlling the places dust mites congregate. The fewer fiber-filled surfaces in a room or a house the fewer places for the dust mites to set uphousekeeping. The most common recommendations are to use vinyl, wood, or other hardsurface blinds instead of curtains or draperies; remove all carpeting and rugs and usewood, vinyl, or tile flooring; replace all fabric upholstered furniture with leather upholstered furniture and remove all books, lamps, knick-knacks and dust catching itemsfrom a room. However, no one wants to live in a bare bubble. So what can be done?Effect dust mite control can be achieved by taking the following steps:
Encase all mattresses, box springs, and pillows in special dust-mite proof zipperedencasements
Wash bedding every 7 days in water that is a minimum of 140°F. If you cannotsafely get home water this hot, use De-Mite additive along with your laundrydetergent.
Remove all stuffed animals that cannot be safely washed and dried.