Wednesday 16 February 2011

House Dust Mite

There are a few species of Dust Mite, each one about as horrid as the last. They can be found all over the world residing in human homes. Probably your home. Eating organic material such as shed skin cells. Probably your skin cells. They need a good amount of moisture and humidity to survive. Your moisture and humidity. No really, they reside in your bed and in your pillow and in your duvet, surviving on bits of your skin and sweat and saliva and your very breath. They wallow in your night-time activities. As you toss and turn, they are the grateful recipients of every drip and drop, every dribble and drizzle, and every gasp and sigh. Pretty sexy, huh?

Image by Gilles San Martin via Flickr
At least they're really tiny. Or maybe that makes it worse? They're not quite microscopic, but they are a bit less than half a millimetre long. They are also very pale in colour so to see them you need a dark background and good light. Like most mites, they look extremely fat to the point of almost being spherical. In close up pictures you can see the grooves on their cuticle, which I find makes them look a bit like a zombie thumb on legs. It also looks rather alien, maybe some kind of face-hugger. Or you could make it a few metres bigger, add a couple of cannons and guns and you'll have some kind of lumbering biological tank! Or maybe I should just play less video games... nah, I'm fine.

So far, the dust mite is unwelcome but basically tolerable if you don't ponder the issue. The problems really come for people who suffer allergies. Dust mites have very simple guts which I guess work well enough, especially since the dusties choose food particles that are already partly decomposed by fungi. Still, out the other end comes faeces of course, but more often it's partially digested dust covered in enzymes. These droppings have affects on the skin and can also result in an unnecessary, hypersensitive reaction from our immune system. This allergic reaction leads to sneezing, watering of the eyes and a runny nose among other symptoms.

Image by Gilles San Martin via Flickr
Dust mites wreak this havoc during a lifetime that averages 1 or 2 weeks. Females with eggs to lay can last for more like 70 weeks, leaving behind 60 to 100 bouncing babies. Eventually there could be some 10 million dust mites residing in a bed. Should this bed start to get a bit too uncomfortable, studies have shown that they pack up and leave en masse, swarming to pastures new. Something has got to be done!

The good news is that dust mites are not as robust as our very own bedbugs. A good wash in hot water or a hot dryer can kill all the dust mites and rid pillows of almost all the droppings. They can also be frozen, dried or poisoned, so you have some options for your murderous destruction. Be creative! Show them who's boss! They may be ugly, but they're not big. Neither are they the laser beam armed mechanoids of an interstellar attack force of bloodthirsty alien zombies. Just in case you were wondering.


Emma Springfield said...

I used to love my naps. Now I will be thinking about wallowing in dust mites! Ick.

Joseph JG said...

Ha! Whoops, sorry. Or should I say "job done"?

Fuzzball Dave said...

job done! you made me wash my bedsheet for the first time in about two and a half months!

Crunchy said...

I'd say that the dust mites are better than the laser robots but I'm not allergic to laser robots. :(

Joseph JG said...

@Fuzzball Dave: Hey, sounds like I've done a public service. I hope you enjoy your cleanliness!

@Crunchy: I'm not allergic to laser robots either, but if I got shot by a laser cannon... I guess the reaction wouldn't be allergic, but it wouldn't be good either.

Bill said...

Why do I feel taken advantage of? These little guys have evolved into the perfect guest for human hosts! I'm not going to sleep well until I drag my mattress outside and leave it in the freezing cold for a day!

Good post!


Joseph JG said...

You probably feel taken advantage of because you are being taken advantage of! Freezing your mattress for a day could work. Personally, I would find it quite difficult to sleep on a freezing cold mattress. It could be an opportunity for lots and lots of hot chocolate, though.

Christiana Cooke said...

Great Article, thanks for sharing another great natural way to reduce Dust Mites is A Probiotic Biotic Mist Allergy-Free Spray is the easiest way to significantly reduce dust mites by applying a long lasting layer of non-pathogenic bacteria to remove droppings and other organic allergenic material from any sort of textile. This formula contains stabilized live good bacteria that will use the mite droppings as a food source.
The Probiotic Allergy-Free Spray comes in a convenient aerosol bottle and is available in 3 different sizes. Spray a 3 second burst over your mattress and our friendly bugs keep working up to 72 hours!

Joseph JG said...

Cool, thanks for that.

Porakiya said...

@Christina Cooke: That name just makes me think of the Anti-Nuclear Bacteria created from Godzilla Cells from Godzilla vs. Biollante......Maybe I've been watching too many movies.....nah, I need to watch more.

@Comment1: I loved the game comment. I can relate. As for the dust mites.........FLAME THROWER! Muwhahahahahaa!

Joseph JG said...

We can all do with Anti-Nuclear Bacteria. Beware of Dust Mites with Anti-Flame Bacteria!