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A few days ago I wrote a post concerning the elements which make up house dust and from where these elements come from. In this post I want to explore house dust mites and what they are biologically so home-owners will know precisely what they are dealing with if they have problems in this regard. So what exactly are house dust mites and how can they be a discomfort to humans in their own homes?

house-dust-mite-biologyThere are three different species of house dust mite. These consist mainly of the American house dust mite (Dermatophagoides farinae) and the European house dust mite (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus). Both are different species but not noticeably so as to warrant separate articles. Also, both of these species occur worldwide and the European dust mite can be found in North America and vice versa.

House dust mites are tiny. In a good light and against a dark background, the body of a dust mite can just be seen. The average dust mite measures around 0.42 millimeters in length and 0.30 millimeters in width. Under a microscope one would see that both the male and female house dust mites are a creamy blue color and are rectangular in shape. All dust mites have eight legs.

Dust mites eat organic matter which includes skin cells shed by humans. They have a simple gut without a stomach and therefore often consume the same particle several times. Like similar animals, house dust mites like to eat matter that has been pre-decomposed by fungi.

what-are-dust-bunniesThere are numerous ways in which a dust mite is transported into and around the home. One of these is in dust bunnies, which are clumps of dust one often finds beneath furniture, radiators and in corners which have not been cleaned properly. These are made up of hair, lint, dead skin and dust which are kept together through static electricity and felt-like entanglement. Another way dust mites move from location to location is in air currents, but major and minor, which are generated through everyday activity in the home.

Dust mites don’t live for very long. On average a male house dust mite lives for between 10 and 20 days. Females live longer and if mated, can survive for up to 70 days, in which time they can lay between 60 to 100 eggs. On a more unsavoury topic, a single house dust mite can produce approximately 2000 fecal particles in a 10 week life span. This doesn’t include the partially digested enzyme-covered dust particles of which there are many more.

In the next article in this series I will explore dust mite allergy symptoms and how you can effectively reduce the number of dust mites in your home environment. Please subscribe to Home Interior Design Themes for further updates.