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An Introduction to the Dust Mites of Your Home

May 21, 2008
You may not think you have dust mites in your home, but they area there. They may not be on the furniture in the living room, but they are hiding away in corners or in areas tat you don't use very often. This is because they are very hard to see without the use of a microscope. They feed on organic material such as the flakes on he surface of your skin, so you may even have some on your body. They are the major cause of allergies, especially asthma.

A typical dust mite in the home measures about 0.5 mm. In order to see this creature under a microscope, you have to place it in a black background. There are males and females in this species and both are round and creamy white with a striated cuticle. Most have eight legs. Males of the species live for 20 to 30 days. However, females can live for as long as 10 weeks and in the last few weeks of their life, they can lay from 60 to 100 eggs. Along with laying eggs, dust mites can produce more than 2000 particles of feces and partially digested particles that are infested with enzymes.

Although the preferred food of dust mites is skin particles and flour dust, they will eat just about anything. They don't have a stomach and therefore they do not have a digestive system. They secrete enzymes and deposit the fungus on dust particles so that the fungus helps to digest the food for them before they consume it. They eat the same particle several times before swallowing it for the final time. The particles they leave behind then decompose due to the presence of the fungus on them. These particles that they leave behind also contain fecal matter. Considering that an average person sheds about 1.5 grams of skin cells a day, this provides a lot of food to feed millions of these mites.

There is no one climate that these mites prefer and the only place on earth where they cannot live is at high altitudes. They are not able to reproduce in these areas. They thrive in environments that do not receive much sunlight, such as under the covers of a bed, in kitchen cabinets, in mattresses and carpets. They climb down through lower levels of fabric to hide from the sun, live and lay their eggs.

Good housekeeping is the key to ridding your home of any dust mites. Putting your rugs out in the sunlight on the rail of the veranda or hanging them on the line on a frequent basis is one way to get rid of them. Vacuum carpets frequently and when making the bed, shake out the bedclothes before putting them in place. Covers over the mattresses and pillows will also help prevent the mites from getting into these places. You do have to be diligent when cleaning areas of the home that don't receive direct sunlight. With the many new types of sweeping gadgets on the market, you can now sweep the floor a lot easier and not put any dust into the air.
About the Author
To find out more about dust mites and how to eliminate dust mites visit www.dust-mites.org.
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