Like it or not, no matter how clean you think your house is, you live in invisible filth. Eighty per cent of house dust is made of dead, human skin. We shed approximately 5-10 grams a week and this is what dust mites like best for dinner.
The average house will be home to 100,000 to 10 million of the little monsters. You can’t see them; they’re translucent and only about 0.3mm long. Most people don’t even know they share their home with dust mites, but their existence is evident is you have asthma, eczema or allergies due to the protein enzymes in the mite droppings.
The good news is you won’t have to call in the pest controllers; the bad news is you’ll never get rid of them completely, no matter how much you clean your house.
There are ways to control dust mites by simply reducing the dust they like to eat. They love bedding; a two year old pillow is full of approximately 10-20% dead skin and will be made up of 10% dead dust mites and their droppings, so start by getting new ones. Vacuum your bed regularly, you might think it sounds bonkers but it helps! Wash your bed linen on the hottest temperature allowed and air duvets and pillows regularly. Dust mites love moisture but hate air and light.
What mites like
Dust mites like warmth, humidity and dead skin. Lots of it. The ideal room for them to grow in is a bedroom, over centrally heated, under ventilated, with lots of fabric:
- Thick Curtains
- Long pile carpet – Ideal for trapping dust
- Lots of bedding
- Cuddly toys like teddies
- Infrequent Laundry, Especially using Warm Washes only.
What mites don't like
Cold and dryness. Good ventilation, being exposed to the atmosphere to dry up, direct light. Temperatures over 60 degrees centigrade and under freezing will kill them. Some chemicals will also kill them.
The dust mites worst possible room is:
- Somewhere with a dry climate – like the Alps or Arizona
- No carpet (stone, wood or linoleum)
- No soft furnishings at all
- Window wide open
- No heating
How Can we Deal with These Pests?
Bed bugs were once nearly destroyed in our modern environment, where the use of chemicals such asdichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane – otherwise more easily known as DDT – kept these beasties at bay. DDT is a pesticide that is either very useful or very toxic, depending on who you ask or what journal study you read. Ultimately though, it was banned.
The Good And Bad Of DDT
DDT was used to keep mosquitoes under control, mostly because they spread malaria. It was used to keep lice numbers down too. So what happened when it was banned? As somewhat of a side effect of its use, DDT had kept bed bug numbers down. After it was banned, a bunch of other chemicals were used to treat bed bug infestations. The bed bugs, however, got smart and developed resistance to some of these chemicals. That resulted in a big UH OH for society as bed bug infestations are now on a major rise!
When researchers got busy observing bed bugs from around the world, they found that these pests had mutations in their nerve cells. What does this mean? It means they are resistant to the chemicals used to kill them. Where the chemicals would previously have paralyzed and killed the bed bugs, the mutations mean that bed bugs are now outsmarting their opponents – us!
Steam Clean or not?
The effectiveness of steam cleaning has been questioned, because the mattress quickly absorbs the heat and the bed bugs are not harmed. One may put a zippered mattress cover, such as is used for dust mites, on the mattress. This traps any bugs inside. However, effectiveness of this method depends on the thoroughness with which the slats, box spring and bed frame are cleaned. If bed bugs are still in the frame, they may crawl over the mattress cover to reach a host. If they are trapped in the cover, and none are left on the frame or other places in the room, the biting should cease. Bed bugs can live a long time without a meal, so it is best to leave the cover on the mattress for at least a year.
After thorough cleaning be sure the bed is moved away from walls so it does not touch them. Small double-cupped interception traps can be placed under the bed legs. Remove dust ruffles or bedskirts, and keep bed covers and blankets up off the floor.
Caution: DO NOT USE ANY INSECTICIDE ON A MATTRESS. Using a mattress cover designed for dust mites and/or bed bugs or discarding the mattress are options.
some of this content was sited from: http://entomology.cornell.edu/cals/entomology/extension/idl/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&; PageID=858388 Cornell University, Dept of Entomology 2012. http://www.martinfrost.ws/htmlfiles/nov2009/bedbugs-dustmites.html