Relief from Invisible Biting Mites in Homes

For some time now (a year and a half for me to be exact) many have suffered from a new infestation of domestic parasites, namely, microscopic biting mites in the home.  For those who are familiar they know all too well that the stories of invisible bugs wreaking havoc in homes is not an epidemic of delusional parasitosis as many have been led to believe.  These bugs are real and virtually undetectable except by the constant misery they perpetuate on those who are unfortunate to know them first hand.  Countless hours of lost sleep and ineffective measures have led me to write on behalf of and, hopefully, to the relief of those distressed for whom the mainstream medical and pest control circles are oblivious.

To those uninformed these microscopic mites appear to be a new invasive species.  Many theories abound regarding their origins, but a quick perusal of the internet searching “biting mites” reveals the startling extent of this growing epidemic.  Whether by global warming or unassuming travelers, these virtually invisible creatures are arachnids (akin to spiders and ticks) which have invaded houses and offices throughout America.  Because they are impossible to see, numerous reports have been discounted as hysteria.  Some are plagued while their cohabitants are not.  Many have moved and/or relocated in an effort to escape the communicable pests to no avail.  They are not susceptible to any residual pesticide and some remedies such as Listerine, Windex, and Cedarcide pesticide have limited effects; there is quite simply no substance which gives long term relief from these monsters.  After reading countless horror tales and painstakingly amassing countless hours of anecdotal investigation I am happy to finally be writing of some substantial progress which I want to share with anyone and everyone similarly situated.

First of all; anyone afflicted with these pests is going to have to get past all the conventional measures typically employed.  These measures will simply drain your wallet and prolong the problem further.  These measures include:

1. Endlessly washing your clothes and sheets – Although washing clothes is highly recommended, it is simply not going to eventually rid the problem absent other measures.  For every mite you wash down the shower or washing machine drain, there are plenty to take his place.  You will make no progress at all unless you stop the immigration.

2. Pesticides – There quite simply in no effective pesticide available for these bugs and many companies have exploited such hopes to great profit and great loss to their customers.  Perhaps the near future will yield such a chemical, but absent the reintroduction of DDT ( a possiblity given the extent of the problem), “ain’t happnin.”  Mites are not insects and their morphology is simply not susceptible to the residual applications of these chemicals.  Once the chemicals are dry, they lose effectiveness.  By endlessly spraying these chemicals in the home you are simply exposing yourself to toxins which will slowly kill YOUR immune system, not the mites making you more susceptible, not less.  Oh, and by the way, fogging is no better so don’t go buying a ton of household chems and then a ton of commercial chems just to poison yourself.

3.   Elliminating all carpet in the house is a very good step, but again, absent treating the cause of the problem these stop gap measures will have no lasting effect.

That being said, the only long term solution to this problem is to alter the environment of these pests.  I came to such conclusion after several reports of erradication coming from people all seeming to coincidentally happen in December.  Also it simply did not make sense that some people were affected while their cohabitants were not.  The reason is that these mites seem to be a a biting variety very similar to household dust mites and their control must be the same.  These mites are surviving in the home on shed skin cells and moisture just like dust mites.  Since different people perspire differently they are afflicted differently, hence the the selective torture.   As such all outside measures to control the home are only effective once you treat the source.  As strange as this may sound… the source is us.  You heard me right…US!.

My home was invaded primarilly because of openings into my house resulting from a shifting foundation.  There is one and only one common denominator to all this suffering, and it is moisture.  Mites cannot live long term in environs with low humidity (i.e. under 50%)  The hot summers in the Southeast make for fervent breeding grounds both inside and outside and homes where humidity control is problematic (all but the best sealed and AC’ed in the South) are susceptible.  This being said, this is the common denominator explaining the fall/winter success.  When the temp drops in the fall cold dry air from the north comes south and furnaces start to dry out homes.  In winter humidity values stay low until it rains and/or the temp climbs back up.   Whenever it rains the leaks around your house draw in moisture by the heat in the house rising and sucking in moist air through the cracks.  (I discovered the full impact of this by placing hygrometers, (Walmart $7 ea.) in every room; This is how I found the leakes in my house and taped or repaired them.)  As long as a house is reasonably sealed these low humidities can be maintained.  Mites, like all of God’s creatures,  need water to survive.  When it is in short supply, they  go searching for it.  As such, dryer months force millions of these tiny creatures from their hiding places in search of water.  Thus begins the process we need to get rid of them.

Like a good golf game, things tend to get worse before they get better.  Often the seemingly quick spike in mite population is actually the existing population on the hunt for water, and guess where that water is?  Believe it or not… it’s YOU!  Once all sources of dampness are eliminated and the home is competely dry (i.e under 50% humidity for a couple of weeks)  the creatures hunt for the only water in the house; this water is from your own respiration and perspiration.  Mites need warm moist places to survive.  In fall their humid warm environs inside and out turn dry and cold and huge populations grown by favorable summers turn their attentions to you.  This is why they plague sleepers.  Almost any mite infestation is detected by a series of sleepless nights.  The subtle itching which keeps us awake becomes acute once the adult buggers start to bite.  By that time you fully realize it’s mites, you have a full blown infestation.  Nothing is more enticing to a cold thirsty mite than a warm, moist, stationary body.  Sleeping humans are the perfect life support for these mites just as they have sustained vast populations of dust mites since homes were invented.  They drink our breath and sweat and stay with us as long as they can, roaming the fertile countryside of our bodies just like dust mites.  Only difference is, these bastards bite, and wake me and countless others up in the middle of the night (sometimes more than once) to shower and change sheets in the hope of a few hours sleep a night.

So the problem is now clear; these mites are sustained by moisture in the home and although drying the home significantly reduces their number, the small amount that can live close to the human body are simply a good bread starter for the days when the humidity returns.  Add to that that any (and I mean ANY) place you leave moisture becomes a refuge for them.  This means your car, your office, your girlfriend’s house, etc.  any place you frequent and leave a little sweat.  All these sources must be eradicated to eliminate the problem long term.  This means some seemingly drastic measures, but the relief obtained is far worth the effort.

Step 1.  Dehumidify the home.

Go to Walmart and buy the cheapest hygrometers they have (about $7).  You may get only one, but, trust me, having these in every room is all but paramount.  Also, get them all the same as comparing them is a key element in the plan and different brands will vary.  By placing these in every room of the home you will quickly (as I did) find where your house is leaking in moisture.  Until all these leaks are found and sealed, you will not be able to keep your humidity down.  When they all are within a couple of % of each other, you are in good shape.

Next, keep the heat on.  A furnace running is the very best effective way to reduce the humidity.  I also have a dehumidifier, but they run about $200 and really do not perform well for the electricity used unless the humidity is above 50%.  Running the heat, even slightly higher than normal, gives a great head start or reducing the humidity.  Once the humidity in the house is under 40% you can back off the furnace to a normal level, but use the furnace to dry whenever the humidity gets back to 40% and threatens to climb (i.e. every time it rains).  In warmer climates like the deep south where I live, I even use space heaters and the AC TOGETHER when the outside temp forces me as this double utility bill is the only way to keep the moisture down.  Letting the humidity get back above 40% threatens to undo any progress.  To those of us afflicted, high utilities are a small price to pay for a shot at killing these things, so heat away!

Next, you should find these bugs now running for their lives to any moist place imaginable.  Isolate cloths and all porous material in the house from sources of moisture (this includes YOU).  I have three of every article of clothes I wear (no more) and I rotate these in the cleaning.  It is simply impossible to keep everything clean by washing constantly, so pick out a very small wardrobe and keep the clean clothes in a sealed container.  I found Rubbermaid 55 gallon Trash cans the best.  They hold a lot and the lids keep clean clothes safe until wearing.  A second is also handy to keep infested clothing quarantined until washing.   This includes the sheets which must be washed daily for a decent shot at ridding these things.  Clothes you will not wear need to all be isolated in a part of the house you do not frequent and open enough to dry completely in the dry air.  Over time all these bugs will die, but only if they are dried out completely.

Now the final element… YOU.  Until you isolate yourself from these bugs as a water source, they will continue to live on your own body moisture.  As a result, any chair or bed you use will retain moisture and continue to support these pests.  I repeat for emphasis:  ANY POROUS MATERIAL YOU TOUCH WILL RETAIN YOUR MOISTURE AND BE A BREEDING GROUND!  You have to isolate your body from putting moisture or mites into furniture and from pulling mites out of furniture.  Mites left in a dry sofa will eventually die, but only if denied moisture completely until the moisture INSIDE the furniture is completely gone and that takes time.  Likewise, mites on  your body will be looking to reinvade these places and you cannot let them.  As strange as it sounds, you yourself are now a walking trap for these devil creatures and every time you catch them they must go down the shower drain or down the washing machine drain.   You must first “close the bar” and then “throw out the scragglers!”   Make your showers and wash cycles count by taking the bugs out and denying them reentry completely.

Next, seal mattresses and box springs in dust mite covers (again Walmart, about $20).  Include the pillows (about $5 ea.)  Next purchase about 3 shower curtains, the vinyl kind (Walmart, about $3 ea).  Keep a shower curtain between you and your furniture at all times and hang it up somewhere to air out completely when not in use to kill any bugs and keep the furniture drying out completely through the winter.  A vinyl mattress cover (yes, they kind for bed wetters) would be strongly encouraged as the bed is these pests’ last refuge.  Of paramount importance: DO NOT SIT OR LIE ON ANYTHING WITHOUT A BARRIER BETWEEN YOU AND IT!!!  Each morning you can pull the sheets off with a night’s worth of mites and wash them down the drain and deny the ones left behind any moisture to survive.  Over time this will yield powerful results if followed strictly.  Good luck to all of you.  I feel your pain and want very much to help.  I hope this blog does just that.

If you want any other guidelines, research dust mite control and treat these bastards the same.  Once the mites are under control (i.e you get a full night’s sleep) keep the measures reasonably employed to prevent their return.  Remember, use the winter for a good head start on the summer.  Once the humidity gets above 50% for any length of time (and it probably will if you live in the South) they are sure to return.  Given the extent of reported infestations, these bugs, like cockroaches, can be controlled, but probably never eliminated.

Recap. 1.  Dehumidify the home.  2.  Employ barrier methods to deny these mites any moisture from the human body.  Good luck!

14 Responses to Relief from Invisible Biting Mites in Homes

  1. Maureen says:

    I am considering tenting. Have you heard of any success with this expensive treatment? Brandon (FL)Pest Control claims to know about the problem and treated a pod I know of recently.

    • rlwesquire says:

      Actually, Maureen, I have heard of limited success, if any, with tenting. Mites are arachnids, so insecticides don’t work and I have yet to find a broad based pesticide which is effective. I have heard also of freezing them with a liquid nitrogen treatment, but, again, such measures are limited to how deep they can reach and how long the adverse condition can be maintained. These bugs live in all porous materials and hence are actually in the walls so tenting probably will not reach them. A pd maybe because it is solid, but house walls are not. Add to that that treating the whole house is a lot bigger than a pod, so I don’t think the two are comparable. Ask the pest control company for a flat price guaranteed and you will quickly find out how little faith they have in their own methods. Most such companies will simply treat and retreat over and over charging every time with the only promise that they will “eventuallly” get rid of them which simply puts an uneducated customer on the hook for a long time which is a bonaza for a pest control company.

      The only measure of which I am sure is desication (drying them out). I recently purchased a 70 pint dehumidifier from Lowe’s for around $250 and have it draining continuously. You have to pull about 10-15 gallons of water out of the house a day and the average 4 ton AC unit only pulls about 8 or 9; The rest you can get with a good dehumidifier. Also, be sure to weatherstrip and seal up any cracks you can to give the drying a decent shot. You can find drafts by checking for rooms with higher moisture than the rest of the house as this can only be from outside air leaking in. It seems the only way to keep the humidity below 45%. (I’ve found by experience that below 50% is simply not enough). Even if the air is dry it can take some time to dry out all the porous material in a house, so the low humidity must be maintained over a long period until, eventually, everything is reduced to below 45%. I am most encouraged by drying them out because my car has had them on several occasions and it is the only place they seems to spontaneously rid them. The only explanation is the high heat and low humidity. A car in the sun gets very hot and the repeated AC of a small space keeps the humidity at around 30%. You can put a hygrometer in the car and this becomes immediately apparent. Since 50% is too high and 30% will kill them, the question is how high a utility bill you have to carry to keep the house dry. I’m presently shooting for 45% through the summer and it is taking two dehumidifiers in opposite ends of the house. Be aware that as the humidity drops they will seek out you as the only moisture, so the problem will definitely appear to get worse before it gets better because they are all running for cover and dying only if and when they find none. I figure if I can keep the bugs at bay through the warm humid summer, I have a good shot at getting rid of them in the winter. The dehumidification works, but it is still a slow process and requires not letting them “up for air” with any surge in humidity, i.e. when it rains. High dewpoints in the summer make fighting them an uphill battle, but when the dewpoint drops in the fall and winter, I should be able to keep the house at 30% or below without breaking my bank on the utility bill. I think, regardless, we will have to keep methods in place to keep them at bay until the rest of the world gets them and develops a viable chemical solution.

  2. Alma Daber says:

    Hi there, neat website, just a quick question, what filtering software you use for comments since I get lots on my website.

  3. Steve says:

    Hey Rob please check out this website http://www.squidoo.com/invisible-bugs.

  4. Jeff says:

    My brother has had this problem for 9 months. He moved out of his home, but was good for awhile until he got into a van he uses for work and they attatch themselves to him. He has done everything possible. Does anyone have any suggestions. It seems like there are more in the cars.Thanks so much.

    • rlwesquire says:

      Jeff,

      My best take on the matter is that the unseasonably warm seasons of the recent past have resulted in an increase in mite populations due to the decreased mortality. Truth be known, these mites are in every home; the only difference for sufferers is that they are in large enough numbers to be noticable. Every little “itch” you feel throughout the day is most probably a mite. You just don’t realize it is mites until they become a full blown infestation. Further evidence? Ever find dust bunnies and dust more in some rooms than others. That “dust” is actually mostly dead mites who get piled together after they die. More dust? More mites. I found the primary source of mine in a pile of old clothes on the concrete floor in a storeroom. They probably built up over a couple of seasons. The cold floor acted to condense any moisture from the air into the cloth and was an ideal breeding ground. These mites breed in any place that is dark, even moderately damp, and undisturbed, and seem to be able to survive cold snaps by hibernating in these places. When they run out of available food (usually sluffed skin which is abundant in any home) they migrate throughout the home. The only long term solution is to destroy the source. I did this by packing all loose clothing into plastic storage bags (the extra large ziploc kind) after washing and drying. Keep all clothing stored in elevated places to avoid cool areas near the floor. The key is to not leave any porous clothing or fabric in long term moisture. Once you have found the source it will take several weeks for them to dissipate, but they will eventually go away if you destroy their primary habitat. Be aware that there is no short term solution and many people give up because they do not see results soon enough. Once the source is located and eliminated, they will “swarm” over the house seeking a new habitat and gravitate towards you as the primary source of heat and moisture when there is no other; i.e. they are going to get worse before they get better and you need to remain vigilant to get rid of them completely. I call this period “kicking the anthill” because they will propagate throughout the house for about a week or so every time you eliminate a source just like fireants on a kicked ant mound, and there may be several sources you will need to find. I found they like to hide in warm electronics (ever wonder why there is so much “dust” on the heating coils of the fridge?) so I turn the television and the computer completely off each night or they will congregate there. You will have to wash and change the sheets each night until you can sleep through the night without them waking you (that is how you will know they are diminishing). If you have not already, I strongly suggest getting a waterproof matress cover; this is your first line of defense and is an absolute must if you want your efforts to be fruitful at all. I’ve had them travel through three rooms to my bedroom after eliminating a source, so know that they will hunt you down anywhere in the house over a few days. If you eliminate all sources of moist fabric where they hide and wash the “scragglers” out of the sheets each morning, you will eventually get rid of them. As far as the van, I suggest eliminating any cloth in it that you can and leaving it in the sun on a warm dry day and let it completely air out. Heat does not kill them unless it is over 130 degrees, but their activity and the reduced humidity together with direct sun should clear them out. Inside, the best time to get rid of them is in the winter as the reduced humidity and low dewpoint will get the house down to around 30% relative humidity and kill them over the season. The key to this, however, is to not have any “pockets” of moisture in the home for them to hide in to ride out the dry season. Deny them moisture over a long period and, eventually, they will die. You might also consider a dehumidifier. I have a large capacity one spliced into my central AC, but it can be expensive to run over time, so I suggest using the drop in humidity of the winter to get a leg up on them.

      Hope this helps.

  5. allthetime says:

    Removing humidity seems to be plausible as I lit 2 candles in a small room where they were prolific and the biting ceased.
    I have experienced these pests for many years and in different locations… some observations are…

    ..Pesticides (tried all sorts) are useless as are pest control companies. Pest control companies do not know what it is either but will kindly spray something around and charge you for something that is 100% useless.
    ..They do not affect all people.
    ..Spraying your feet with windex or aerogard before hopping into bed helps.
    ..They are worse of an evening and at night.
    ..It is not health related as we live in 2 homes and only one is affected. If it was our health or diet or other such suggestions they would exist in both homes.
    Furthermore, if it was health related you would notice the biting everywhere you went.
    ..They bite almost anywhere on the body but more prolific on the feet, legs, head and groin area.
    ..You can feel them moving around on your body but you will never see them.
    ..I have noticed them in some second hand stores. Probably carried in with old furniture and clothes.
    ..All homes affected were where pets (cats & dogs) were kept. Most homes have pets but may be worth considering.
    ..Spraying with a 50/50 mix of bleach/water under the house and areas where moisture and mold were evident did make a noticeable difference for a while but have returned since. Maybe repeated applications should be tried.

    Hopefully one day somone with identify this pest and provide a positive solution.
    In the meantime i wish all those who are fixated with prescribing pills, recommending a change in diet, munching on garlic and all the other mythical remedies would take a break.
    Those who claim it to be a psychological problem obviously have not experinced it and therefor are passing comment on something they know nothing about.

    One clear fact that those giving advice should remember is that the people affected do not have the biting everywhere they go.

    • rlwesquire says:

      hunterdata, you are right on all points.

      It would seem the first thing to recognize is that beating these pests relies on reliable data; not just speculation. The bulk of advice out there is coming from people who have “thought” of good ideas, but not really tested them. Since these bugs are so small thay are “invisible” (and trust me, they are; we are not making this stuff up!) the only way to track progress is by trying something and a month later finding out if it worked. To do that scientifically you have to account for everything that is different when a change occurs. Over two and a half years (yes, it’s been that long since these things surfaced; October 2007, a date which will live in infamy) each time they get worse or better I’ve tried to note what changed. You may have read from my latest post that I found the primary source of them in a pile of clothes in a storeroom. I washed and packed all these clothes into storage bags and stored them on the floor in my bedroom closet. Well, I’m writing this post at 5 am because they have slowly returned. I’ve tracked them to the fact that the airtight plastic stored bags in my closet have canvas bottoms (duh!) and any fabric next to the cold floor and baseboards will harbor them. I’ve now removed the storage bags from the closet and elevated them to a table in a separate room off the floor. I know they are the source because as I am writing this the bugs I stirred up (that were not there 15 minutes ago) are in my hair and clothes. Months of this have made me keenly aware of them when they come out. The average person feels these little itches all day long and thinks nothing of it. Trust me, every time you feel that little itch in your wasteband or in your sock inside your shoe, that’s mites. Truth be known, I don’t believe there are any “random” itches as most would believe. People don’t just “itch” for no reason and now that I know this I also know that that itch is like a gieger counter for detecting mites. It sounds crazy, but that is the only way to track this invisible enemy.

      Now, here’s the rub. I know from experience that I just “kicked the anthill” by moving those bags and destroying the home of a few kazillion mites, so the next few days I will have two sets of sheets ready each night so that when they wake me up at 4am (and they will!) I can shower and change sheets to get another 3 to 4 hours of sleep. After about a week they will die back down. I know this because they seemed to be gone for about a month (slept like a baby) when I first got rid of the clothes pile and the “anthill” died down, but they have slowly returned over the past month that the storage bags have been in the closet.

      My best, best, best advice. Get everything, and I mean everything, off the floor! These things retreat to the baseboards, not the ceiling. If you deny them dark moist retreat they will die. Trust me and hunterdata; pestides are useless to these bastards. I have two fabric couches that I literally soaked in Deltamethrin (I mean dripping to the floor saturated) and all it did was give them water to live on. The bastards swarmed my living room for a few days and then died back down, but they still come out of the sofa anytime you lay on it more than 5 minutes to bring them to the surface. (How’s THAT for resilient!) Soaking the house in pesticide will kill YOU before it kills them! I’ve had a respiratory infection (commonly called the winter crud) now for about three months and I know it is from breathing in the dust from these bastards (that’s pretty much all dust is, dead mites… yea, I know… disgusting… but you have to get over it if you are ever going to fix it.)

      Low humidity is the key, but realize, humidity is not uniform. A room can be 35%, but the baseboards on the floor covered by stuff in a closet are much higher than that. You have to keep the floor areas clear enough so the circulating air can dry out the baseboard areas and keep them dry because any humidity will recollect as it condenses. Any humidity over time will sustain them so you have to give your baseboards a chance to dry out every time the weather permits. If you let that moisture stay there, the mites will return. Any moisture in the warm air of the room will condense when it gets into the cold dark areas, so if you are serious you have to get all the porous materials out of these places if you are going to have any chance of killing them. They will find any dark corner to hide out and breed and then attack at night when their numbers are sufficient to swarm.

      Good luck.

  6. zaneta says:

    hi there iam getting really confused from these unvisible biting things,how come it never happened before and there was no change in my circumstances, I moved 3 times to try to stop them. The places I live now isnt humide at all. My housemates are watching me like i fall down from sky and iam starting to think iam really sick

    • rlwesquire says:

      It would seem that environmental factors may be increasing their frequency. Some speculate that they are an invasive species, but more likely they are simply an exacerbation of current species. See a more setailed post from today at my blog in response to Bob’s most recent question.

  7. Bob says:

    How do you know these are mites if you can’t see them? There has to be a natural solution to the problem every living creature has its weaknesses.

    • rlwesquire says:

      Bob, your thinking seems to be on track with my most recent experience.

      Actually invisible mites are not a new thing. The dust mites that occupy most all homes are practically undetectable except for the effects felt by those with allergies. My experience, however, seems to indicate that there are two types of mites involved here, house dust mites and what are called itch mites. House dust mites live in furniture and sustain themselves exclusively on shed human skin cells and moisture from the environment, i.e. human perspiration. They are generally unnoticed because they do not bite and generally feed at night. These mites are scavengers and simply coexist with humans.

      The other type of mites I’ve found are called straw itch mites and they too are so small as to be invisible. These, however are not scavengers, but are instead, predatory. They hunt and feed on other insects overwhelming them in numbers and feed off their bodies for both water and food. Their main food sources are the mites and insects which are vegetarian and live on both living and decaying plants. The itch mites are usually found in mulch piles and sometimes get into the yard in pine bark and straw used for landscaping which are rich in many of their favorite prey.

      The reason I go into detail on these two species is that understanding them both is necessary to getting relief from them. By lots and lots of anecdotal evidence I’ve found that an invasion of itch mites (the kind that bite) always has a source. They cannot spontaneously reproduce in the average household environment and cannot sustain themselves on humans alone. They migrate to humans in desperation once their food sources are depleted. I’m finding long term relief from the itch mites that were in my house by clearing all decaying mulch from around the outside of my house. The itch mites from outside actually cover the house like ants on an anthill and so long as the mulch sustains them, they will will continue to hunt the house for alternate food. By clearing away the mulch the itch mites have slowly dissipated, presumably by starvation, which takes some time.

      These bugs need two things to survive, water and food. Denying them water by dropping indoor humidity is a good idea, but I’ve found you cannot control the humidity outside, which is where they are coming from. By denying the food they get from decaying plant matter, i.e mulch, they will slowly die off. But keep in mind, just like humans, all animals can live far longer without food than water. My experince indicates that this infestation builds up over several seasons, and it takes a while to get rid of them naturally. BTW, as in previous posts, I’ve found no pesticide that will erradicate them and I’ve tried everything, believe me!

      My best advice is to clear all the mulch from around the house out at as far as possible (at least 6 feet or more) to keep them from multiplying near the house and be sure to mow so that clippings are directed away as well. You can’t kill them all because thay are an essential part of the ecosystem that breaks down dead plants back into the soil, but you can keep that process away from the home. That is why you should NEVER have a mulch pile near the house.

      Next item is to realize that for the vast percentage of people who have dust mites in their homes, almost none will ever know it. They do not bite and may simply keep you from sleeping “soundly.” But once “itch” mites get into the house and bite you and keep you awake, people become keenly aware of their presence. The thought of mites never even crossed my mind but for the occasional Discovery Channel documentary. Most all of us have heard how these microscopic creatures live on our bodies, but except for the passing distaste, do not think of it. Once itch mites begin biting, we notice every little scratch. Oddly enough, those itches were always there; we just tuned them out, until an onset of itch mites makes one hypersensitive to ALL such itches including the ones from innocent dust mites. So now that one is “hypersensitized” even those innocent dust mites can drive you crazy!

      From all this I’ve discovered that now I am keenly aware how many mites, both dust and itch, occupy the average human environment and I can’t just “forget” that now that I notice it. As a result I’ve lain awake many nights aware of them collecting as a try to sleep. For anyone kept awake by these bugs, you know how frustrating it can be and how “crazy” one appears to be sensing microscopic animals that others don’t even know exist! I feel your pain and NO, you are not crazy! You just are aware of what others have learned over time to tune out. Well, a recent visit to a hotel room put me on track to the solution.

      Dust mites actually live inside most matresses and rise to the the surface to get their water from perspiration as we sleep; after which they will return deep into the matress until the next evening. For several months now in my home they would wake me up at 4 am sharp and keep me up until morning; but in the hotel, they woke me up only briefly and I got back to sleep. At home I have a matress cover; hotels do not. What I have found is that the mites in my house come, not from the matress, but from the room. They collect on me for moisture and then have nowhere to retreat after. As a result, every time one tosses and turns in the night, they retreat back to the bottom sheet for cover and THAT is what wakes you up and keeps you up (yes, these bugs are crawling under you for warmth and water; I don’t know any more tasteful way to put it…). Over time I have been killing them off slowly, but the remainder keep collecting back on the sheets each night after I scatter them into the room every morning.

      Since one cannot put a matress in the washing machine (probably not a good idea to try…) I’m convinced a waterproof matress cover is essential to diminishing these bugs long term, but in the short term, it actually is more frustrating since the bugs which collect have no choice but to stay on the human body for protection. The solution? A quilted matress pad! Every morning I wash both the sheets and the quilted matress pad on my bed and I sleep all the way through to the morning because the collecting mites have a retreat into the matress pad! What’s more, that retreat is also their demise as I can wash them out every morning and start fresh the next evening. In fact, I sleep better now than I ever did! Truth be known, I think everybody can benefit from this practice whether you have itch mites or not. I think a lot of restless sleepers have high dust mites and do not know it! Many I’ve talked to have similar stories of lying awake at night for “no apparent reason” and my experience indicates that if you are tired and you lay down in a bed free of such mites… you will sleep… HARD sleep! The kind of sleep where it takes a half hour to wake up! (Now that’s good sleep!) Quantity of sleep is not the same as quality of sleep and dust mites crawling at night, whether they wake you up or not, keep you from getting quality sleep. I think there are probably millions of restless sleepers out there that do not even realize it is the dust mites that are keeping them from restful sleep.

      I am now on track with the combination of sheets and my matress pad “mite net” to get good sleep and slowly get rid of ALL the bugs (or at least reduce them to acceptable levels; truth be known, you can NEVER get rid of all dust mites); in fact, I gauge progress exclusively by the quality of my sleep and wash my bedding as often as necessary to keep that quality of sleep.

      Note: Be aware that summer is the WORST time to try and stop these mites. The humidity inside will keep their numbers much stronger than the dry air of winter and the heat and moisture outside will make their numbers skyrocket! Trying to dehumidify a house in th summer is expensive! Dehumidifiers cost money to run and create heat so AC runs even more! However, by denying the food source of the itch mites (i.e mulch around the house) and denying cover to the dust mites in the house with a matress pad and regular laundering of bedding, I think they can be slowly dissipated over time regardless. (Note: by “over time” I mean a period of several months, so gauge success by incremental progress). Patience is essential, as there is absolutely NO short term solution that I have found over the past three years, but I think this current strategy is the best I’ve found yet and the results are undeniable. I think with this approach you can actually be sleeping BETTER than ever before.

      Good luck!

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