WARNING: CREEPER ALERT: NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED:
I am embarrassed. I am appalled. I am disgusted. And I am damn angry!!
We are clean people. We keep our home clean and tidy. We hoover every day. We turn back the bed every morning. Yet we have been invaded. And owe the dog the most utmost apology. She did not pass her bugs on to us, we passed ours on to her.
I always thought bed bugs and dust mites were the same. Not so.
The common bed bug is a small wingless insect that feeds on blood. Adults can be up to a quarter of an inch long (about the size of an apple seed), typically dark brown with a flattened body. Bed bugs are nocturnal, coming out at night and staying well hidden during the daylight hours. As they feed, the abdomen swells and the bug takes on a reddish or deeper brown color. After hatching, the immature bed bug, called a nymph, goes through a series of 5 molts until it reaches its full adult stage. Nymphs range in size from a pinhead to slightly smaller and lighter than the adult. A bed bug life span is typically 10 months to a year and they can live up to 6 months without feeding. Each adult female can lay approximately 200 to 500 eggs during her lifespan, typically 3-8 per day. They are very hardy insects, and very difficult to kill.
The house dust mite survives in all climates, even at high altitude. They thrive in the indoor environment provided by homes, specifically bedrooms and kitchens. You’ll find them in mattresses, carpets, furniture and bedding, with figures around 100–500 per gram of dust.
Even in dry climates, house dust mites survive and reproduce easily in bedding (especially in pillows), which takes up moisture from body contact.
Unlike bed bugs feeding on blood, house dust mites consume minute particles of organic matter. They have a simple gut, having no stomach but sacs (or pouches) that divert out of hollow organs, so they select food that has been already partially decomposed by fungi.
House dust mites reproduce quickly enough that their effect on human health can be significant. Dust mites numbers can be reduced by replacing carpets with flat surfaces that are easier to vacuum and maintaining relative humidity below 50%. Existing mites can be eradicated through ten minutes’ exposure to the lethal temperatures – near 105 °C (221°F) – in a household clothes dryer, or using disodium octaborate tetrahydrate (DOT) powder. A side-effect of DOT is irritation of the eyes.
If you’re not happy with the thought of using chemicals, an alternative is Diatomaceous Earth.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a substance made up of the fossilized remains of plankton; it looks like an off-white talc powder. It can kill any bug with an exoskeleton easily, but is safe for any mammal to eat. It is a popular way to kill bugs without using insecticide. On any beetle-type insect that has a carapace, like fleas and cockroaches, the DE works under the shell and punctures the body, which then dehydrates and the insect dies. DE is totally nontoxic. There is no buildup of tolerance like there is to poisons because the method of killing is PHYSICAL, not chemical.
When my hubby was doing pest control, his preference was permethrin, commonly found in ant powder and head lice treatments.
Officially, permethrin is used:
- as an insecticide
- in agriculture, to protect crops
- in agriculture, to kill livestock parasites
- for industrial/domestic insect control
- as an insect repellent or insect screen
- in timber treatment
- as a personal protective measure (cloth impregnant, used primarily for US military uniforms and mosquito nets)
- in pet flea preventative collars or treatment.
OK, enough of the jargon, facts, figures and science as shown in coloured text.
The fact of the matter is, we have dust mites. I don’t care that they are common to all households. They have dared to enter mine, been found out and as such are fair game. It’s war. Today we have taken drastic measures to reduce their numbers and to show them who is Boss in this house.
We stripped the bed, dumping the old duvet and pillows which are well past their best anyway. It’s bin day today, so all of the offending buggy stuff is now on its way to the tip and they can munch their way through everything somewhere else. All of the bedding (3 loads) went into the wash, which was then taken up to the launderette and zapped big time in a commercial dryer. Before going out though, we’d sprinkled the mattress with ant powder. When we came home after walking the dog and the visit to the launderette, we hoovered the bed and made it up with our spare duvet and pillows.
Tonight, we are looking forward to a relaxing, itch free slumber.