Generally speaking, a few dozen species of ticks can live and live in a person’s dwelling, both parasitic and those that do not bite either a person or domestic animals. However, when people talk about domestic ticks, they mean, first of all, their very synanthropic types - the so-called dust mites (they are usually also called domestic ticks).
These arthropods are unique in their biology - they live in most human living quarters all over the planet, and they are not direct parasites of humans, do not bite them and do not suck blood. Moreover, they do not even spoil the food and do not bite pets. Dust mites could be ranked as a group of useful decomposers if it were not for one “but”: their waste products are so harmful to human health that they very often cause severe (including chronic and deadly) respiratory diseases.
On a note
According to statistics, if from among the people living in the premises at least one - from an infant to an old man - has rhinitis or bronchial asthma of unidentified etiology, then with a probability of about 45%, it is household ticks that cause this disease. Most people do not realize that they are present in the room, although these pests live in close proximity to a person - in mattresses, pillows, sofas, and also simply in the dust at the corners of the room.
The reason for such invisibility of dust mites is very small size: adults reach a length of about 0.3 mm, and nymphs are even smaller. In this case the body is translucent. It is not surprising that these arthropods are not only not striking, but also difficult to identify, even when deliberately trying to find them.
The following photograph, taken with a microscope, shows a mite in its usual habitat - in the carpet:
You can compare its size, for example, with the thickness of the pile thread. It is perfectly understandable that just looking at a pest in a carpet will be problematic.
However, to assess the presence of dust mites in an apartment is not only possible, but also necessary, in order to get rid of them as soon as possible in case of severe contamination of the premises, and at the same time - from diseases caused by such a neighborhood.With the right approach, it is possible to remove pests in most cases independently.
How to look for these unpleasant cohabitants and what to do when they are discovered, we will go on and talk in more detail ...
Features of dust mite biology: what do they eat and where do they most often meet in an apartment
Household ticks (they are also house dust mites) are small arachnids, distant relatives of the well-known ixodid ticks (the very ones, some of which tolerate encephalitis).
Like most of their relatives in the subclass, dust mites are not parasites of any man or any other animals. They feed on exfoliating particles of human skin, which fall off from the legs, head, hands and body, and then concentrate together with dust in the corners, under the baseboards and furniture, and carpets. Here, in clusters of flat dust, large quantities of ticks are collected, carefully consuming the remains of human skin and extracting necessary nutrients from them.
It is interesting
Recent studies show that the diet of domestic mites is more diverse than previously thought.For example, these arthropods also actively eat mold fungi, although not all in a row - they avoid part of the mold (presumably due to the presence of toxic substances in the composition).
Dust mites have a whitish translucent little body of a rounded shape, resembling the eggs of insects. Their legs are in the front of the torso and are more suitable for holding on thin threads of carpets and dust than to move on even surfaces.
Not surprisingly, domestic mites are generally quite inactive creatures. They can not be found in the house, running around on the floor or bed linen, and they do not even really fumble when they are in the dust. That is why few people notice them even where there are many of these pests. However, if you arm yourself with a magnifying glass, they resemble small whitish dots (0.2-0.3 mm in size) in lumps of dust or on bed frames. Most people just do not pay attention to them.
On a note
Several types of synanthropic ticks are attributed to house dust mites. Of these, the most numerous and common are only two species: the European dust mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and the American dust mite Dermatophagoides farinae.
Other varieties of ticks that feed on organic debris can also start in house dust, for example, the hairy mite Glycyphagus domesticus. They all look very similar to each other, and at home they are almost impossible to distinguish. But the need for such a species identification does not arise in practice: the methods of detecting and destroying these creatures are the same for different species.
The photo below shows the dust mite Glycyphagus domesticus:
Under favorable conditions, each dust mite lives for about 2-3 months, and the duration of the larval (nymphal) stage also enters this period. Approximately 2/3 of the life cycle of the mite spends at the nymph stage, constantly growing, sheds several times, and then turns into an adult - an adult arthropod, capable of reproduction. At this stage, the mites mate, after which the females begin to lay 2-3 eggs every day.
For all adult life, the female lays from 60 to 100 eggs, and then dies.
This is what an adult dust mite looks like under an electron microscope:
Dust mite eggs are so small that they are almost indistinguishable with the naked eye.They also have a whitish shell, their diameter does not exceed 0.1 mm.
Dust mites excrement is even less noticeable, but it is they (and not the mites themselves) that are most dangerous to humans, as they contain allergic sensitization proteins ...
Danger to humans
Home mites do not bite a person. An evolutionary need for this was not formed in them, and therefore, by itself, neither man nor any of his pets are interested in ticks.
On a note
Therefore, if the residents of the apartment constantly have bites on the body, then it is not necessary to suspect them of dust mites. The culprits here are most likely mosquitoes, bedbugs, fleas, linen louses or, with less probability, pigeon ticks (we will talk about them a little below).
Domestic mites are dangerous because they can cause severe allergic reactions. The main tick allergens are digestive enzymes that facilitate the digestion of skin particles in the digestive tract. Part of the enzymes is excreted with feces, and when these waste products dry up and break down, they get into the air, are inhaled by humans and settle on their skin. Due to their high biochemical activity, they act in a complex manner: they irritate the skin itself and the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, and also stimulate the immune response,causing allergies.
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The diameter of household mites excrement is about 30 microns (0.03 mm). Due to these small sizes, they can easily be picked up by the air when playing children, sweeping the floor, and then inhaled by humans.
Often, the following diseases become the consequences of regular contact with the excrement of dust mites:
- Chronic rhinitis (sometimes with allergy symptoms, sometimes without them), accompanied by constant nasal congestion;
- Rhinoconjunctivitis with characteristic symptoms of allergies;
- Atopic dermatitis;
- Bronchial asthma.
On a note
Some experts even believe that more than half of cases of bronchial asthma in the world are associated with an allergy to excretions of domestic ticks.
Also strong allergens are particles of chitinous membranes of nymphs, dropped during shedding. Similarly, allergies can occur or increase in response to contact with the covers of dead ticks - there are too many of them in the dust.
A characteristic feature of all diseases caused by tick-borne allergens is the difficulty of determining their etiology. Without a special allergy test, it is almost impossible to find out that rhinitis or asthma developed precisely after a reaction to tick excrement. And many people do not attach much importance to nasal congestion, they often try to find out the cause of permanent dermatitis on their own and, of course, cannot do this.
Therein lies a certain danger: often, complex and not always harmless means and methods, including surgery, are often mistakenly used to treat such diseases. While the true reason for the development of pathology may be literally at your side - for example, in a mattress and a pillow.
The reasons for the emergence of ticks and the optimal conditions for their indoor life
Optimal conditions for the life of dust mites coincide with the typical microclimate of a city apartment or house. They are well suited to the temperature in the range of 18-25 ° C and relative humidity of 50-85%. They can survive at slightly lower and slightly higher temperatures, but development in these cases slows down. Their activity also decreases with low humidity, but does not stop completely - if a person can live in a room, then ticks will survive here.
On a note
In winter, in most Russian apartments, due to the operation of heating devices, very low air humidity is maintained (below 20%). However, if no effort is made, the population of domestic ticks does not die completely from this. Individuals continue to multiply, albeit not as fast as in other seasons.
In the largest quantities of mites are found in places of accumulation of dust and peeling human skin. As a rule, these are joints of baseboards with floors, corners of rooms in which the floor is rarely cleaned, spaces under furniture, junctions for parts of cases of beds and sofas, spaces in sofas (therefore pests are sometimes called sofa mites).
Dust mites can also be found in other places where the dust itself is not particularly abundant. For example, they are often found on a bed, under mattresses, in cushions and blankets, even in flower pots. They can also settle in large quantities in carpets, in which human peeling epidermis accumulates in abundance.
Ticks initially get into the room itself usually with furniture, as well as on various items that people bring here.Including, they can be brought in bags and suitcases with clothes, on footwear with dust. Independently between apartments and houses, they are practically not settled due to the inability to move over long distances. That is, in most cases, they are brought into the house by the people themselves, who then wonder where these pests come from.
How to understand that it is dust mites
When trying to detect dust mites in an apartment, one must be able to correctly identify and distinguish them from some other arthropods that may occur here.
Perhaps the easiest way to confuse them with spider mites, often settling on houseplants. The latter have similar dimensions (0.3–0.5 mm) and, when viewed with the naked eye, resemble the same bright spots as their “dust relatives”.
To distinguish these species can be primarily in the meeting places in the house: spider mites accumulate on the leaves and stalks of plants, the juice of which they feed. They braid the plant with a thin, but clearly visible web. Ticks of house dust on plants are not found and do not form a web.
For example, the photo below shows the accumulation of dust mites when magnified:
And here - spider mites on a houseplant:
It is easiest to distinguish ticks from any insects if you look at them with a magnifying glass or school microscope and count the number of paws. In ticks 8, they are quite clearly visible with the increase. Any insects and their nymphs (for example, nymphs of bed bugs or linen lice) have only 6 legs.
In addition, it is worth remembering that the vast majority of insects living in human habitation are much larger than dust mites. Even the smallest nymphs of bugs and cockroaches have sizes from 0.5 mm to several millimeters, are well visible without any magnifying equipment and run fast enough.
So, for example, the nymphs of bed bugs look like (eggs are also visible):
Therefore, if some arthropod in the room was noticed, then, most likely, it is not a domestic tick - the latter can only be seen if one closely examines a clump of dust with the accumulation of these pests.
It is also useful to keep in mind that, in addition to dust mites, some other members of this subclass may settle in, although they cannot be called truly domestic (for they live in houses much less frequently than in other premises), but which may not become the most pleasant neighbors of man ...
A few words about pigeon mites and some other pests that can be found in homes.
Perhaps the most unpleasant ticks that can permanently inhabit a person’s dwelling are bird ticks. There are several dozen species of them, some of which are permanent bird parasites and live in their feathers or on their skin, and some live near bird nests and simply visit their hosts to feed on blood. It is the latter that can settle in a person’s housing.
Often in the apartments (especially located on the top floors of the houses, under the attics) and in private houses there is a so-called red chicken tick. It is sometimes called pigeon mite.
Its main habitat is chicken coops, lofts with settlements of pigeons, sheds, household outbuildings, and in the wild nature - colonies of birds (for example, swallows or rooks), from where it gets closer to humans. Living in attics, it can penetrate into apartments through cracks of walls, ventilation and engineering communications, settling here in warmth and comfort. In the extra-nesting season, when there are very few birds in the attics, these parasites can actively bite people and domestic animals.
The photo shows the accumulation of red chicken mites on the bird:
The bites of these arachnids are painful, and itchy blisters remain in their place. These bites can provoke the development of an allergic reaction.
In addition to pigeon ticks, so-called granary ticks, a group of species whose representatives damage various foods, can settle in a person’s dwelling. For example, a flour mite can harm cereals, flour, and other grocery products.
Cheese mite infects long-lasting hard cheese, and onion mite harms the bulbs of various plants. Finally, even a wine mite is known, settling on the surface of fermented wine raw materials.
For example, the photo below shows a cheese head damaged by a cheese mite:
All these types of ticks in homes rarely appear. Their main habitats are various enterprises and warehouses where large stocks of relevant products are stored. However, it is possible to detect such neighbors in a regular apartment if you accidentally buy a product infected by them.
How to deal with domestic ticks
The fight against household (dust) mites as a whole is not very difficult and can be carried out independently, although there are certain nuances in it.
Firstly, due to the very small size of ticks, they are not so easy to find in order to identify the places of the largest clusters. For this reason, people often do not even suspect that their health problems are associated with dust mites and that they need to be destroyed. Trying to treat chronic rhinitis, they usually buy a humidifier and a huge amount of drugs, but they don’t guess the main cause of the disease.
The first thing to do in the fight against ticks is to identify the places of their greatest concentration in the room. This can be done with the help of special test systems. They are not always sold in pharmacies, but today they are easy to buy in various online stores. For example, Ventia and IAQ test systems are popular.
The essence of the test is simple: a little dust is taken in the test area of the room, poured into a special solution, then a test strip is dropped into the mixture. The reagent on the surface of the strip reacts to tick allergens and is painted in a certain color when they are present in the dust. By comparing the color of the strip with the samples indicated on a special scale of the test, it is possible to find out the number of tick-borne allergens at the point of dust collection.
On a note
There are test systems for sensitivity to mite allergens, suitable for use at home. Such a test allows a person, for example, a patient with asthma or rhinitis, to find out if he is allergic to dust mites. If the result is positive, then with a certain probability we can assume that the disease was triggered by ticks, and they must be sought and destroyed in the house.
Secondly, it is important to understand that if the dust mites in the house have settled, large numbers of them may be behind the baseboards, in the cracks of the parquet, inside the mattresses, that is, where they can neither be seen nor obtained. Therefore, checking the premises with the help of a test system gives a result with a large error - where the ticks are most, it is sometimes impossible to check their presence at all.
If it is determined that the mites in the room are abundant, it is necessary to take measures for their removal. Several methods can be used for this:
- Mechanical - dust mites are simply removed. To do this, you can use both ordinary household vacuum cleaners and a damp cloth, as well as special vacuum cleaners to remove dust mites of the type Philips FC6230 / 02 Mite Cleaner. The first option is cheaper, the second is more efficient;
- Thermal - pillows, mattresses, blankets that may be infected with mites, are washed at the maximum allowable temperature. They can also be warmed up, leaving them in a closed car in the sun in the summer - the temperature here rises to a level at which all ticks die. Finally, these things and furniture can be heated with steam from a steam generator;
- Chemical, in which the room is treated with special acaricides or universal pesticides, combining acaricidal and insecticidal activity. It can be as usual household preparations, for example, lines of Raid, Raptor, as well as available Karbofos in ampoules, Sinuzan and others, and more expensive products, prepared on the basis of emulsion concentrates (Hangman, Geth, Lambda Zone, Deltsid, etc.) . By and large, even flea drops for cats and dogs can be used to treat, for example, a carpet, although this will be irrational - such drugs are quite expensive. Dust mites are sensitive to the majority of insecticidal (not necessarily acaricidal) agents, therefore, processing according to the instructions of any of them in most cases will provide the desired result.
Unlike the fight against various synanthropic insects, especially parasitic, the destruction of domestic ticks is facilitated by the fact that it does not have to be complete.
If, for example, bed bugs need to be destroyed to the last individual to be sure that there will be no more bites, then it is enough to fight dust mites until their mass accumulations are eliminated. Moreover, this can sometimes be done even by simple mechanical means - a vacuum cleaner and a wet rag. Trying to completely eradicate them is not necessary. Even if some of the pests remain behind the plinths, inside the sofas, under the cabinets, the number of allergens in the room will still significantly decrease, which will significantly ease the condition of the patient.
If in the future to regularly carry out thorough wet cleaning in the apartment, the number of mites will continue to decrease further, since the main source of food for them will be removed during such cleaning.
It is interesting
It is also believed that ticks can be destroyed with the help of quartz lamps - the ones that are used to disinfect a room.
Methods of dealing with household mites can be combined, and only one method can be used, relying not on a quick result, but on the gradual destruction of most individuals of the population.
For example, it is possible to carve out all the carpets in the room, process carpets and baseboards with any insecticidal spray (including modern versions of Dichlorvos), and sofas and mattresses with a steam generator. Then spend a wet cleaning in the apartment and sleep well. If in the future at least once a week in the apartment to thoroughly wash the floors and wipe the dust everywhere - this will be a reliable prevention of mass reproduction of ticks.
Strongly contaminated furniture, especially soft, it is desirable either to freeze on the street in the winter, or to treat with hot steam from the steam generator, or to treat with any insecticidal spray. This will be a sufficient guarantee that the mites that could settle under the furniture upholstery will die.
It is also useful to use sprays such as Easy Air for spraying particularly contaminated sites. Their composition contains biodegradants, which lead to the destruction of tick-borne allergens and reduce the severity of people's reaction to them.
Finally, you can get rid of ticks quickly and completely by ordering a professional treatment (it is sometimes incorrectly called disinfection). This will relieve the owner of the premises from the need to independently handle the apartment and with high probability will immediately give a positive result. In some institutions (for example, in kindergartens and schools) only specially trained disinsectors can poison any pests.
Protecting housing from these arthropods
Due to the small size and almost invisible to humans, dust mites can be easily brought into the room. However, if you observe preventive measures, you should not be afraid of this. Although it is believed that the majority of apartments and houses are infected with these arachnids, but only in some rooms they multiply in such quantities that they become a threat to human health.
Simply put, to completely and permanently protect your home from the presence of dust mites in it is unlikely to work. But you can protect your home from the mass reproduction of these arthropods, which will help to reliably protect against diseases provoked by them.
The most effective preventive measures include:
- Regular wet cleaning of the room. If it is carried out at least once a week, then this will be enough to prevent excessive reproduction of ticks, since during harvesting both the individuals themselves and their eggs and food sources — human skin particles — are washed away;
- Removing unnecessary "dust collectors" - carpets, carpets, carpet tracks, excess soft toys;
- Regular cleaning filters for air conditioners and trash bags in a vacuum cleaner.
At the same time, one should not be afraid that the number of dust mites in the room will increase while maintaining normal humidity in it (for example, when operating a humidifier). In fact, the above preventive measures will provide a reliable regulation of the number of ticks, and even the optimum humidity for them will not allow them to multiply en masse in a clean well-kept apartment.
Useful video: what causes the presence of dust mites in the bed
Dust mites in the pillow (macro)