Dust Mite Habitat: Why do dust mites like living in our houses?

A woman with hay fever is blowing her nose on bed

House Dust Mites just loooove our beds

Why do dust mites like living alongside humans?

Dust mite populations love human houses for a few reasons – shed human skin (a major food source that  is plentiful), but perhaps more important to dust mites is the humidity in bedding created by the (roughly) one litre of moisture lost by adults each night.

Dust mites are very sensitive to aridity and use the 8hr sleep period of humans to absorb the water that they need through their skin and by secreting and then ingesting a water-absorbing fluid. When we’re in bed, dust mites migrate towards us to absorb moisture from our perspiration and breath. Mercifully, dust mites don’t crawl all over us because we’re too hot to be comfortable for them.

One theory that attempts to explain the rising numbers of allergy sufferers worldwide is that modern houses are more humid, warmer, and less ventilated and are more accommodating to dust mite populations than in the past.

Dust Mite Diet

Human skin scales (your body sheds 3.6kg of dead skin per year) , shed pet skin (dander), food residues, pollen, grains, mould and feathers. The dust mites eat organic matter that has already been partially decomposed by fungi. Human households have some or all of these food sources in abundance.

A Dust Mite Horde Infesting Carpet

Dust Mites Love Soft Furnishings That Humans or Pets Touch Frequently

Dust Mite’s Favoured Environment

  • Humidity and uncirculated air – Humidity between 60 to 80%
  • Temp 15-20 C
  • Absence of direct sunlight.
Dust Mites Love Heavily Used (lots of skin contact) Soft Furnishings:
  • Carpet
  • Mattresses
  • Couches upholstered with fabric.
  • Pillows
  • Cushions
  • Bed Linen
  • Curtains
  • Cloth Wallpaper
Apparel:

  • Clothing
General:

  • Stuffed toys.
  • Pet bedding.

Read More on Dust Mites: What are Dust Mites? A Major Allergy Villian 

Dust Mite References:

Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick – Dust Mite Factsheet 

House Dust Mite – Wikipedia

Respiratory Clinic University of Modena

Euroglyphus Maynei – Thermo Scientific

Thomas, Wayne R., Wendy-Anne Smith, Belinda J. Hales, Kristina L. Mills, and Richard M.O’Brien. “Characterization and Immunobiology of House Dust Mite Allergens.” International Archives of Allergy and Immunology 129.1 (2002): 1-18. Print.

Boquete, M., Iraola, V., Fern\’, ez-Caldas, E., Villaroel, L., Carballada, F., de la Cuesta, C., Lopez-Rico, M., Orjales, R., Parra, A., Soto-Mera, M. and others, (2006). House dust mite species and allergen levels in Galicia, Spain: a cross-sectional, multicenter, comparative studyJournal of Investigational Allergology and Clinical Immunology, 16(3), p.169.

2 Responses to Dust Mite Habitat: Why do dust mites like living in our houses?

  1. Ryan July 17, 2015 at 3:28 am #

    Pretty! This has been an extremely wonderful post.
    Many thanks for providing this info.

  2. Latitia Gomersall September 26, 2017 at 12:36 pm #

    Very informative, thank you!

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