6 Shocking Facts About Dust Mites And Infestations

What actually are dust mites, and are they really everywhere?

Could these invisible, borderline mythical creatures lurking in the nooks and crannies of your home be worldwide mum propaganda to get you to clean your room?

Or can they really cause serious health problems?

Read on as we unravel the dirty secrets of these pests, but be warned, you will never look at the ordinary items in your home the same way.

They live off your dead skin

Before you imagine vicious, blood-thirsty beasts feasting on your flesh, you should know that dust mites are tiny microscopic creatures that go by the scientific name of Dermatophagoides or “skin-eating” in plain English.

And boy, do they stand up for their name.

They feed on the skin scales humans and pets shed daily after moulds have partially digested them.

Yes, that’s pretty gross in our book, but at least you don’t have to worry about being the unsuspecting victim of a savage pest attack in your sleep.

They love humidity and can absorb moisture from the air and are typically found in beds, but they can also be found in carpets, couches, and even clothing.

Though, you should know that there are other health-threatening things that mites do in your bed you need to be concerned about.

They can cause allergies even after they’re dead

As if the trouble they stir up during their short lifetime – about 2 to 4 months – is not enough, dust mites can vex you long after they’re gone.

The reason is that most people are not allergic to these pests themselves, but to proteins in their droppings, which can continue to trigger allergic reactions even after the mite has passed on.

Each mite produces up to 300 milligrams of droppings in its lifetime, giving allergy sufferers problems straight from the afterlife.

People who have asthma, eczema or allergic rhinitis are more likely to develop an allergy to dust mites. That’s why you should change sheets often and frequently vacuum, preferably with a cleaner with a HEPA filter.

They can’t drink or urinate

Even though when they’re not sleeping or eating, dust mites are probably doing № 2, they can’t do №1.

These small eight-legged creatures are about 75% water – basically tiny water bags with legs. They can’t drink, so they absorb moisture from their surroundings through glands at the base of their front legs to supply themselves with the water they need.

This is why mite populations thrive in humid environments and are at their peak in summer and autumn, to which experts also ascribe the high rates of asthma in these seasons.

However, it is only partially true that dust mites will perish in dry, hot climates, so hold up packing your suitcases to Sahara. There are other more reasonable and affordable ways of dealing with them.

Always keep humidity levels below 50%, remove fabric items you cannot wash often, if possible, and wash your sheets weekly at least 130 degrees F. 

Ensure you use asthma and allergy-friendly products (like air filters and vacuums with HEPA filters) to create a healthier environment.

They are not insects

It might surprise you, but dust mites are arachnids and are in the same class as spiders, crabs, shrimp, and lobsters.

There are three main species of dust mites – the European and American house dust mites, which are not necessarily confined to Europe or North America, so as we said – don’t yet consider moving to another continent, mainly because the third species of mites is also widely spread.

It seems like they’re everywhere. But hey, at least these little critters are not parasitic and do not burrow under the skin the way scabies mites or skin follicle mites do.

Now, that would be truly scary!

A used mattress can have up to 10 million mites

Due to its tiny structure – usually, less than a third of a millimetre thick – a dust mite can make its way through almost all fabric weaves.

They are particularly fond of mattresses because it’s where they can find plenty of dead skin flakes to eat, as well as an abundance of hiding places to sleep and mate in.

Females can produce up to 100 eggs in their lifetime, which means the population of dust mites in your mattress will grow rapidly if you don’t take precautions and timely action to deal with them.

Mites also thrive in carpets, with a whopping 100-500 mites in a typical gramme of dust and up to 100,000 in a square meter of carpet.

Once again, if you have allergies, you better think twice before buying a used mattress. 

Instead, opt for certified asthma and allergy-friendly allergen-barrier mattress and pillow covers.

They pose a severe risk to your health

Although the most common concern with house dust mites – asthma – is a serious health issue in its own right, they can also cause eczema and perennial allergic rhinitis.

In its lifetime, a single mite can produce 2,000 faecal pellets, which means that at least 2,000 dust particles – the ones you see clearly in a beam of light, are covered with their faeces.

These can be found anywhere in your house, not just in the bedroom but also on carpets, curtains, and soft furnishings in all living areas.

What’s worse, dust mites can contaminate grain flour and other grain-containing foods, causing anaphylaxis, similar to the allergic reaction to shrimps and other crustaceans.

And, just in case you were wondering, the place where you’re reading this is most likely swarming with dust mite poo too.

All this means that regular cleaning and maintaining proper hygiene are of utmost importance if you suffer from allergies.

And, if conventional methods don’t work or your health doesn’t seem to improve, you can always hire a pest control company to disinfect the mattresses and carpets.


So, there you have it–the 6 most shocking facts about dust mites and how best to deal with these numerous creatures and the problems they create.

Suppose you’re someone who suffers from allergies, eczema, or other health-related problems listed above. In that case, we hope implementing any of the above-mentioned tips brings you much lasting relief.

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