For parents & patients
Adult house dust mites are so tiny they can sit on the tip of a pin. They have 8 legs and look a bit like a bag of clear jelly. An adult has a short life span of about 10 to 12 weeks. A healthy female can lay up to 3 eggs a day. After 6 to 12 days the egg will hatch producing a six-legged larva which will feed and then pass through 2 nymph stages before emerging as an adult.
Learn more about the mite's biology
The amazing mite
House dust mites are scavengers that have lived on earth for 23 million years. They live in nest sites of warm blooded animals such as rats, birds, and humans. To help them survive they have evolved a clever way to recycle food. Mites use their droppings as a form of nourishment- and can eat them up to three times over.
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Why house dust mites cause disease
In order to turn hard-to-digest food into an easy meal the mite places active digestive enzymes into its dry droppings. These enzymes stay in the droppings until they meet a moist surface. If the moist surface happens to be delicate human tissue, then the enzyme will starting working there too. This action can result in immune responses or disease.
A different sort of bite by the mite
The house dust mite does not bite, but the enzymes in its droppings certainly do. They can activate on contact, penetrate cells and continue breaking into the body. For example, mite enzymes can be found in the fluid surrounding unborn children.
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Mites eat organic debris
House dust mites eat moulds, fungi, dead mites, bacteria, pollen, almost anything organic, but their favourite food is mouldy old discarded skin scales.
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What a mite needs to breed
Because an adult mite is about 75% water and cannot control its body temperature it needs to hide away in warm dark and damp conditions.
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