Do you have a persistent rash that itches like mad? Not sure where it came from? Unexplained sores and other issues of the body can be annoying, but trying to find their cause can be downright maddening.
We’re not doctors but if you have some of the symptoms described it could be mites. Mites are tiny (very tiny) insects that can live in and infest all kinds of places and things including people and animals. When mites infest actual people, in addition to being unpleasant to think about, they can cause sores, rashes, and persistent itching.
So what exactly are mites? What do mites look like? How can you tell if you have mites? Most pressing of all, how do you get rid of mites if you have them? In this blog post, we’ll give you a brief rundown on these petty pests, including how to deal with them and how to prevent them in the first place.
There are many methods to dealing with the different types of mites. In house, on you, on your pets, it doesn’t matter—you don’t have to just live with the little pests.
So grab your microscope and get ready to dive into the world of the mite.
What are mites exactly?
Mites are arachnids. This means they’re closely related to spiders, scorpions, and other eight-legged insects. At less than 1mm (or ~.04 inches) they’re also very tiny—virtually invisible to the naked eye, even if you knew exactly where to look.
There are many different types of mites. So many that we are not even going to try to put together an exhaustive list. It is enough to say that they can be found in many places and that they feed on many living things.
Mites live indoors, outdoors, in the water, and on the land. Most mites are actually beneficial to the environments they live in as they fill a key ecological niche as composters. Some mites however are parasitic and live off of plants, animals, and humans to the detriment of their hosts.
Most of the conditions caused by small mites are simply uncomfortable or unsightly (think of scabies). Larger mites, like ticks, that can spread medically significant diseases like Lyme disease are part of a different superorder of mites and are beyond the scope of this blog post. Some mites can cause allergies and there is a body of evidence that suggests they may help spread disease. For the most part though, a mite infestation is a quality of life issue.
Mites are highly adaptable and resilient meaning you’ll find them almost everywhere on earth.
How to get rid of mites: protection against infestation
As with other types of infestations, there are steps that the vigilant person can take to minimize the possibility of a mite infestation. None of these suggestions are guaranteed to stop an infestation (like we said, mites are adaptable and resilient), but implementing them and keeping up on them can help reduce that possibility.
Like most insects, mites love clutter. It gives them places to hide, nest, reproduce and go through their maturation cycle largely undisturbed.
And, since there are many types of mites, there is virtually no end to the places they can set up shop.
To minimize the number of places that mites can live and do as much as possible to disrupt their life cycle, declutter your home taking special care to dispose of items lying around the house that are rarely used.
If you have the resources to do so, you may even consider stripping any carpets you have in your home out and replacing them with hardwood, linoleum, or some other hard surface that is harder for mites and other insects to nest in.
Vacuuming and dusting
Yes we know, there are tedious chores but they can go a long way in preventing a mite infestation and slowing the spread of one if it has already taken root.
Regularly (at least weekly) vacuum all carpets and rugs and dust all surfaces. Be thorough. Carpets may look uniform from our point of view, but carpet fibers are actually quite porous and give mites a lot of places to hide and cling to. Any dust anywhere in the house can provide a place for a lot of mites to live, so buy a versatile duster and put it to good use. Damp dusters are best as dust will stick to them as opposed to simply being spread around.
Cover your bed with dust proof covers
Like our good friend the bed bug, mites love to sleep with us. Your mattress and bed sheet may be giving mites places to hide and since we lay unconscious in bed for several hours a day, it gives the ones that feed on us easy access to a veritable buffet.
Dust proof covers come in a variety of shapes, materials and sizes meaning that this is an effective way to deal with a potential infestation while still maintaining comfort and utility.
Mites love humidity! Bringing the humidity down in your home won’t by itself prevent or eliminate mite infestations, but it can make your house much less pleasant for mites to live in.
How to get rid of mites you already have
Despite your best efforts, you may still end up with a mite infestation. Don’t despair or panic. There are a number of ways to deal with mite infestations of any size.
This is especially effective if you have dust mites on your bed. Strip all of the blankets and linens off of your bed and wash them in hot, soapy water. Make sure the water is as hot as possible. 130°F to 140°F should do it. Do this regularly (every one or two weeks) until the mites are gone and continue a regimen of regularly washing your bedding thereafter to keep the little pests from coming back.
There are a number of over the counter pesticides that can kill mites. Which one is best will vary considerably depending on the type of mite infestation, where it is, and how extensive it is. If you’re unsure which pesticide to use, consult a pest control expert. They can help you identify the type of might and prescribe the most effective pesticide to do the job.
Bring in a professional
Wondering how to get rid of mites? Why not let somebody else do it for you? If DIY options have not worked as well as you’d hoped or you just don’t want to go to the trouble of figuring out yourself how to get rid of a mite infestation, consider hiring a pest control expert.
Pest control experts have the specialized training and tools to identify mites, the locus of a mite infestation, and determine the best course of action to take to eliminate the infestation.
Give us a call. We have that training and those tools and we have been ridding people of mite infestations for years.