• Scientific Name

    Dermatophagoides spp.

    Appearance

    Mites no matter which species are tiny creatures at around 0.1-2.0mm in length. They are related to ticks, spiders and scorpions (the class Arachnida). Without magnification it is nearly impossible to identify a mite in a domestic situation and identification is usually carried out through the symptoms and the environement.

    The mite 'breathes' through the the surface of their body through tracheal openings or even by direct gas infusion into their bodies. Some mites have 1-5 simple eyes, on others eyes are absent and the mite relies on sensors on their legs and bodies. Whereas a tick will have a leathery body, a mite has a unsegmented soft body and does not have a barbed mouthpart (which is why tick removal can be difficult).

    At the larval stage, the mite has 3 pairs of legs, it is not until the nymphal stage the 4th pair develops. The male mite is disctinctly different from the female.

    Lifecycle

    The lifecycle of most mites consist of egg, larva, nymph and adult stages and under favourable conditions can last 14-21 days. Most species deposit their eggs however some species such as the Straw Itch mite will give bith to live larva. The nymph stage where the mite will moult can vary from 3 upwards depending on the species of mite in question. Some mites undergo a stage called Hypopus (usually after the second nymphal stage). This dispause (resting) stage can be due to unfavourable environmental conditions where the body hardens, the mite becomes almost immobile and suckers appear on the underside allowing it to attach to a host and be transported either by animals or insects into more favourable conditions. This allows for greater survival rate and dispersal and at this stage the mite has been found to be resistant to insecticides.

    Habitat

    The Dust Mite lives wherever humans will drop skin. Because a human will slough off around 10-12 grams of skin per week (over half a KG per year). The Dust Mite will then concentrate in areas this sloughing occurs such as lounge room, carpet areas and frequently used furniture and bedding. If pets live inside, the dust mite will thrive as dogs and cats produce more dander than humans for dust mites to eat. At any given time there can be tens of thousands of dust mites living in your mattress or pillow. In labratories it has been found that over 1 million dust mites in 10 square metres of carpet (small bedroom size).

    The dust mite is not harmful, but the feces are the number one cause of allergic reactions in humans. No matter how clean you are, every human environment contains 'house dust' which can be made up of human hair, skin, ash, fibre, wool cotton, fingernail filings, glue, insect fragments,plant parts, soot, pollen, food crumbs, wood shavings, soild, skin scales, sugar and salt crystals, tobacco, stone particals, graphite, paper fibres etc.

    Food

    The Dust Mite feeds on dead skin cells known as dander from both humans and animals. Shine a light in a bedroom or other human habitat and about 80% of the material seen floating in the air is actually dander (skin flakes) - the dust mite has a pupose in cleaning this up however the issue is primarily allergies.

    Allergy Notes

    People who are allergic to dust are also allergic to the proteins in the dust mite feces.