Treating for Mites


On a world-wide basis, mites are important nuisance pests and some are capable of transmitting disease agents. Fortunately, the mites that we commonly encounter in North Carolina do not transmit disease agents that affect people. The majority of mites are free-living, but thousands of species are parasites of animals or plants. Most of these are external parasites (i..e., they feed on the exterior of their hosts), but some species inhabit the ear canals, lungs, intestine and bladder of vertebrates, particularly domestic animals. Their biting and bloodsucking behavior causes considerable discomfort to their hosts and a few species also cause serious allergic reactions, such as asthma, in people. Because of their relatively small size, mites are often the “suspects” of a whole range of biting/itching problems. Understanding mite biology and the symptoms associated with mite infestations can help determine if they are the actual cause of a particular problem.


Mite Biology

Mites are not insects; they are more closely related to ticks and spiders. Most mites are visible to the unaided eye and usually measure 1⁄8 inch or less in length. Their life cycle has four basic stages: egg, larva, nymph and adult. The egg hatches into a larval stage, which molts to the nymphal stage. After 1-2 more times, the nymph matures into an adult. Mites, like ticks, have three pairs of legs as larvae and four pairs of legs as nymphs and adults. The life histories of some common mites associated with people are described below…..


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