All you need to know about the house dust mite
For the Curious

A scent that makes dust mites panic

The chemical that makes house dust mites gather together in defense has been identified as neryl formate, a common scent used in foods and perfumes.
Two common indoor dust mites found throughout the developed world are Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and Dermatophagoides farinae. They are known as major pests that can cause atopic diseases such as asthma, rhinitis and dermatitis. Although blind these mites have an exquisite sense of smell, which they use for finding food and a mate. For years scientists have studied the animals and their responses to their environment both favorable and hostile. During these studies the doctors found that the mites give off a stress or alarm warning pheromone that causes the colony to aggregate or mass together in a tight ball for safety. The warning may be given when disturbed or if humidity or temperature levels change and the colony is threatened with extinction. The colony will remain in this state until more favorable signals are received, and life returns to normal.

Scientists, based in London, have recently found that the alarm pheromone is an easily accessible chemical product known as neryl formate. Furthermore, they consider that the application of neryl formate has the potential as a novel lure-and-kill technique in house dust mite control.


References

'Identification of neryl formate as the airborne aggregation pheromone for the American house dust mite and the European house dust mite; (Acar:Epidermoptidae)', Skelton AC, Cameron MM, Pickett JA, Birkett MA,'J. Med. Entomol'. 2010;Vol 47(5), p798-804