Bed mites - House mites
Dust mites have taken up residence in your bedding, in your armchairs? The problem: you can't see them! In this dossier, you'll find a range of answers and products to help you combat this insect, which is omnipresent in our homes.
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Bed mite (dermatophagoides pteronyssinus)
House dust mite (glycyphagus domesticus)
Order : mites
Family : Tyroglyphidae
Size : 0.4 mm
Location : any habitat
Period : all year round
What you need to know about bed mites
The bed mite is the most common mite found in homes. Bed mites tend to feed on tiny scraps of skin and mould filaments. House mites, on the other hand, feed mainly on sugary organic matter. They can therefore be found in house dust, but also in all sweet foods and dried fruit.
They are omnipresent in our environment, but their small size means that they often go unnoticed : 1g of dust can contain up to 1,500 mites ! They are tiny animals (0.3 mm) belonging to the Arachnid family, like spiders, rather than insects.
To live, dust mites need a humid (>50%) and warm (>19°) environment. They can live on both natural and synthetic fibres such as mattresses, animal skins, sofas and carpets.
At temperatures >25°C and humidity >75%, dust mites proliferate very quickly, which is why it's important to air living areas regularly.
Beware of house dust mites : risk of allergies
House dust mites do not transmit contagious diseases, but they can cause allergic reactions such as chronic colds, bronchial asthma and atopic eczema. The main allergen is found in their droppings, which are suspended in the air, and it is when they come into contact with the skin and respiratory mucosa that the allergy develops.
- the allergy threshold is around 100 mites/g of dust
- 20% of people are sensitised.
- 60% of asthmatics are sensitised.
- 25% of asthmatics have symptoms caused by these arachnids.
Our tests with 4J 1.5% insecticide
Testing the insecticide on red spider mites Given the small size of house mites (less than 0.5 mm), we were unable to test the effectiveness of our 4J 1.5% insecticide, but we did test it on another type of mite: the red spider mite, which is frequently found on plants in hot, dry weather. After a quick spray, the red spider went from living to dead (see photo).
We also tested our 4J insecticide on much larger real spiders, but at a concentration of 5%, and each time 100% mortality was observed.
1 - Eliminate house dust by vacuuming regularly (preferable to sweeping).
2 - Wash radiators, windowsills and wardrobes regularly.
3 - Wash bed covers and sheets weekly at 60°C and blankets monthly.
4 - Ventilate rooms daily to reduce relative humidity and temperature. Avoid temperatures > 20°C and humidity > 50%, which is actually healthier.
5 - If you can, prefer:
- smooth leather sofas,
- parquet floors, cork tiles, novilon or PVC,
- cshort-pile synthetic fibre carpets,
- synthetic or cotton blankets,
- mattresses with dust mite-proof covers.
6 - Pay attention to anything that can generate mould, such as potted plants or humidifiers.
7 - Treat regularly with our anti-mite insecticide.
Anti-dust mite cover. Is it really useful ?
Here's what Dr Masson, a "field allergist", has to say (source of the article).
"It's much more effective to get rid of dust mites in your pillow, box spring and duvet.
Even if a mattress cover reduces the quantity of allergens, enough remain in the rest of the bedding to maintain the allergy and asthma.
So I'll continue to advise my patients to put covers on their mattress, pillow, box spring and duvet, because reducing the amount of dust mites in the bedding will help to improve them.
In fact, only specific desensitisation, by increasing the body's resistance to allergy, will really solve their problem."
Warning : when you buy an acaricide, check its composition (see our file on the Pyrethrinoid family)
Can essential oils be used to combat house dust mites ?
Certain essential oils can be very effective in the fight against house dust mites. More precisely, you need to use a blend of essential oils to increase the power of their effects (known as synergy). These essential oils have excellent insect-repellent properties.
Tea tree essential oil is a good example. The monoterpene alcohols it contains (alpha terpineol and terpinen-4-ol) penetrate cells, altering the cell membranes and intracellular constituents of insects. They will thus prevent the insects from developing and cause their death.
Clove essential oil contains Eugenol (similar in action to monoterpene alcohols), a substance recognised for its anti-insect action.
Finally, lavender essential oil completes the formula thanks to the Linalool it contains.
Mix 100 ml of modified alcohol and 15 ml of each of the above essential oils in a small spray bottle. Then spray the surfaces where the mites are present: mattresses, pillows, cushions, carpets. Make sure no-one is in the room and wait at least 1 hour. Finally, once you're back, don't forget to vacuum the room to remove any dead mites, which are always a source of allergies. This operation will probably have to be repeated regularly depending on the results obtained. If it doesn't work, you'll need to switch to more powerful natural insecticides (see below).
How to eliminate mites in a sustainable way ?
A - Use our 4J insecticide at 1.5% because :
- It's a natural pyrethrum-based product that will eliminate the adults.
- By depositing a film (potassium soap) on the waste produced by them (excrement, dust, etc.), it prevents them from becoming airborne. Use 500ml per 5 m² of surface treated.
Proceed as follows :
- Remove sheets to expose mattresses.
- Apply the product to eliminate living mites.
- Air the room and leave the product to dry.
- Clean the room thoroughly with a hoover, preferably fitted with an anti-dust mite filter (vacuuming is important, as excrement and dead mites should not be left on the mattress).
- Pyrethrum does not last long (maximum 2 weeks), so treat regularly and at least every time you change your bed linen.
- Also treat cupboards and wardrobes and possibly carpets.
Do you have a large surface to treat ?
To treat an entire house or large surfaces such as carpets, rugs, bedding, etc., we recommend using a garden sprayer and 4J insecticide in its concentrated form. Make your own preparation by diluting 5% of the insecticide with water. For your information, a 250 ml bottle of 4J concentrated in 5 litres of water will treat 50 m².
B - 2 aerosol products are also effective in treating house dust mites :
- Ecodoo anti-mite spray, formulated with pyrethrum in particular
- Aries anti-mite spray, formulated with neem oil, which works less quickly (compared with pyrethrum), but lasts longer.
C - For peace of mind, after treatment and vacuuming, we recommend you use anti-dust mite deodorising granules. They will not only release delicately scented (mint - eucalyptus) and sanitised air, but will also destroy the dust mites and other parasites in your hoover bag, reducing the risk of allergies in humans and animals.
D - To radically eliminate any surviving dust mites, use the Habitat Biovétol fogger, an automatic diffuser made exclusively from active ingredients of plant origin (available in 3 sizes).
E - Finally bicarbonate of soda is an ideal ally against dust mites for the following reasons :
- Laboratory studies have shown that bicarbonate, whether used as a powder or sprayed with water, is extremely effective against dust mites. For example, just 20g of bicarbonate powder (the finer the bicarbonate, the more effective it is) per square metre of surface area is enough to destroy all the mites in less than 2 hours.
- It's not toxic to us! A grain of bicarbonate that comes into contact with one of our moist mucous membranes (eye, mouth, lungs, etc.) dissolves immediately without irritation. However, the chitin that makes up the mite's shell does not allow the bicarbonate to dissolve, and it will be damaged as soon as contact is made. And as mites are very mobile, they won't be able to avoid spilled bicarbonate for very long !
- Bicarbonate is fungistatic, so it blocks the growth of mould. As moulds are conducive to the development of house dust mites, and also produce allergens themselves through the production of spores, bicarbonate is doubly effective. It acts on both the mite and its biotope.
How do I use baking soda to combat dust mites ?
Carpets and mattresses : spread the baking soda powder as evenly as possible (about 20g per square metre or 4 teaspoons). For a single bed, you'll need around 35g and for a 2-person bed around 55g. Brush lightly to distribute and penetrate the fibres. After about 2 hours (4 to 8 hours is best), vacuum up and put the sheets and undersheet back on the mattress.
By spraying or in the washing powder : Baking soda is also very effective against dust mites when diluted in water. Add bicarbonate to warm water until the grains no longer dissolve, then spray on the surface to be treated against dust mites. White marks may appear after drying. These will disappear easily when washed. Spraying ensures even distribution. If the surface is completely moistened, very fine bicarbonate crystals will appear everywhere after drying. When machine washing, adding bicarbonate to the rinse water will delay the reappearance of dust mites.
In the hoover : Vacuuming up bicarbonate (on the carpet, rug or mattress) will neutralise dust mite activity in the hoover. Unfortunately, the allergens already in the bag will not be removed, and it's better to have a hoover with a HEPA filter to avoid dispersing them around the room. But at least with the bicarbonate, the dust mites won't produce any new allergens in the bag! You can also use our anti-dust mite deodorising granules for hoovers.
The products you need to combat house dust mites ?
Go directly to the detailed product sheets, product by product, to combat house dust mites :
*pae: Ready to use
Frequently asked questions about dust mites, cockroaches and red spiders
Q: I'd like to know if an anti-dust mite product exists for mattresses. If so, what do you recommend?
A: We have an insecticide for small insects including mites (4J diluted to 1.5%) that you can use to treat your mattresses, but as this product doesn't last very long, you'll need to use it regularly. We also have other products, this time in aerosol form, to treat house dust mites : Ecodoo House Dust Mite Spray or Aries House Dust Mite Spray.
Q: Is it possible to treat a specific area with your product ? What concentration do you recommend ? Will I have to "sprinkle" or spray the area ?
A: Yes, but to be really effective, it would be preferable for the area to be perfectly mown beforehand (at least for the grass) ? I think 2 to 3% will be sufficient. Watering would be more effective, but a garden sprayer should do the trick.
Q: I'd like to know if your "anti-dust mite" product is safe to use inside the house, in bedding and on all objects in direct contact with my children ? Which product do you recommend ?
A: You'll find several safe products on our site for use in treating dust mites.
Q: I'm looking for a pheromone-based trap for small red spiders, also known as Chigger. Does it exist ?
A: Although red spiders and chigger are both mites and both live in grass, there is no connection between the 2. The red spider (family Tretranychidae) is a plant parasite, whereas the larva of the august mite (Trombidion mites) is a bloodsucker. Apart from that, I don't know of any traps for either of them !
Q: I've just bought a mattress for my unborn baby. This mattress has undergone permethrin-based anti-mite treatment. Your page on this molecule mentions possible neurological damage.
A: Like all pyrethroids, permethrin is active on the nervous system, disrupting the conduction of nerve impulses along axons. Permethrin is not normally toxic to humans, but it is highly toxic to all cold-blooded animals and is not tolerated by cats, where it causes convulsion-like symptoms. Its adverse effects can lead to the death of the animal. (Over a three-year period, the CNITV-Lyon recorded 345 cases of pyrethroid poisoning - some in dogs and cats).
Q: I've got parasites in my kitchen, as small as dandruff, but they're swarming, moving around and even after washing everything with bleach they come back within the hour. Please tell me what I should do.
A: On the face of it, given your description, it looks like mites, but to be sure we need a bit more information: what do they look like, do they fly, are they worms ?
Q: What organic insecticide should I use to treat mites (red spider mites) on a lemon tree? (e.g. 1% 4J insecticide)
A: For regulatory reasons, our products can only be used on houseplants, but in this case you can use the 1% 4J or the 1.5% ready-to-use insecticide.
Q: I've just discovered some tiny white creatures that look like dust, but if you look carefully they move. Could you please tell me what I'm dealing with ?
A: Tiny white creatures that look like dust. On the face of it, they look like mites, but to be sure, we need a bit more information: what do they look like, do they fly, are they worms ?
Q: Do you have anything effective to combat chigger, or at least to avoid being bitten ?
A: Products based on PMD (mosquito repellent) are effective against sucking insects. Our Penntybio body lotion contains this substance.
Q: Hello, my daughter is allergic to dust mites. Apart from careful cleaning, do you think essential oils could help her, and in what form: to swallow, as a vapour or in other ways? Her symptoms: sneezing, especially in the morning, a full nose, lots of nose blowing all year round.
A: Apart from diffusing essential oils to disinfect the air (lemon, lavender, etc.), they won't improve or prevent an allergy.
Q: Concerning insecticides for mites, do they also work on large spiders? I tried a natural pyrethrum-based product on a large spider, it just turned round and when I offered it the broom, it climbed on and ran around. It didn't seem to mind.
A: Natural pyrethrum is a very 'light' insecticide, depending on its concentration. So it's not surprising that it doesn't do anything. Our mite repellent won't work on large spiders, it's not designed for that.
Q: I'd like to know if there are any "anti-dust mite" carpets ?
A: I know of anti-dust mite mattresses, but not carpets.
Q: I have a problem in my kitchen. They're about 1 mm long, white/beige creatures with legs, and they move very quickly. I've thrown everything away, bleached it all and cleaned it again with methylated spirits. Nothing's been done, I haven't found what could be the nest or I didn't see it when I threw everything away. The formica on the kitchen worktop has been stripped, revealing the wood, and every time we clean the kitchen there's always water standing on this half-mouldy wood (I rent). could this be the cosy nest of these beasts? before buying an insecticide, I'd like to know what these beasts are so that I can combat them better with the right product. thank you for your help.
A: I think I've answered your question on the phone, it's probably dust mites. The products presented in our dossier on this insect may help you in your fight. Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
Q: We're doing a TPE on mites and we'd like to know which essential oils are effective against them ?
A: I don't know about mites, but you have essential oils such as lavender, citronella and geranium, which have an effect, but mainly as a repellent.
Q: What do you recommend to combat the proliferation of augusts? For the garden of course, but possibly to protect pets, in this case dogs? Could diatomaceous earth be effective ?
A: Every year, when it's very hot, it's the same thing. The bugs come out and it's very difficult to escape. For outdoor use, you can treat with our 4J "small insects" insecticide, concentrated at 1.5%. They're mainly found in shady, damp areas near water, but you'll only kill the larvae that aren't buried in the soil. In terms of protection, I'm not sure that products designed for fleas and ticks are effective. Diatomaceous earth is effective on all insects, but using it in a garden is complicated. As soon as it gets wet, its properties are no longer active.
Q: What product would you recommend for treating a houseplant infected by red spiders? Given that spraying the plant is ideal, isn't it harmful to the plant ?
A: As a 4 J insecticide at 1.5% (small insects and mites), it's not harmful. However, the product contains soap, so if you can, shower your plant a few days after treatment.
Q: I'm having an invasion of red spiders, or at least tiny (less than 1 mm) little creatures that look like red spiders. They look black to me with red antennae and leave a dark green trail when you squash them. The walls of my house are full of them (under the window sills, in the window frames, in the window rebates, and all the way up the wall in the gaps in the plaster). I'd like to know if diatomaceous earth would be effective in getting rid of them ? I spent the day spraying a mixture of white vinegar + black soap + bicarbonate, which seemed to eradicate them at first... to no avail: they invaded again after 10 minutes. You write that diatomaceous earth is ineffective on mites, and if they're red spiders, then they're mites. Do you think your product can get rid of this invasion ? If so, how do I go about applying it to all my plaster? Where do I start? They're everywhere! I don't even dare open my windows any more because I find them all over the house! How often should I apply it ? Thank you in advance for your reply, which I look forward to.
A: Red spiders, chigger. Given their size and the time of year, they're probably small insects from the mite family. Our 4J insecticide diluted to 1.5% is enough to get rid of them. This is a contact insecticide. In other words, it will only be effective if you touch them with it. This product is available either in diluted form, ready for use, or in concentrated form, which you mix with 1.5% water. As with all insects, the ideal is to spot and treat the outbreaks. But in practice, this is complicated. In your case, I'd recommend spraying the product on the front of your wall, paying particular attention to the gaps in the rendering. You can also apply it to your windowsills and frames. The more surfaces you spray, the greater your chances of destroying as many as possible. Apply the treatment in the cooler hours of the day (morning or evening), as the pyrethrum in the formula remains sensitive to the action of UV rays and heat. As for diatomaceous earth, although it is not very effective when used outdoors (due to the fact that it becomes inactive as soon as it gets wet), it can be a good way of combating this type of insect indoors. Diatomaceous earth can also be sprayed onto vertical walls. To ensure it settles properly, you'll need to mix it with water in a spray bottle (between 300 and 500g per litre of warm water). Once sprayed on the walls, the water will evaporate and the diatomaceous earth particles will remain fixed. But once again, be careful, a heavy downpour could wash away all the work !