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What are Bed Mites?

Mary McMahon
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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People use the term “bed mites” to refer to two different organisms: bed bugs and dust mites. Both are undesirable visitors in the bed, and they can cause an assortment of health problems. In the case of bed bugs, various control measures can be used for eradication and treatment of symptoms, while dust mites are much more difficult to evict. In fact, dust mites live essentially anywhere that humans do, in varying concentrations.

Bed bugs belong the family Cimicidae. They are hemophagous, which is a polite way of saying that they live on blood. These parasitic organisms burrow into the bed and bedding during the day, coming out at night to feed on humans. Some people develop raised rashes and welts where they are bitten, and in rare cases, people may experience allergic reactions to bed bugs. Some research has also suggested that these bugs may carry disease.

Widespread eradication efforts in the 20th century dramatically lowered the bed bug population, but numbers began to rise again in the early 21st century. In some regions, bed bugs are a very serious problem, especially in hotels. Eradicating them sometimes requires getting rid of all bedding, and it is also usually necessary to use insecticides, some of which are made from very harsh chemicals.

Dust mites feed on dead skin, hair, and oils secreted by the body. They are often found in bedding, and they also live in carpeting, upholstery, and many other locations. Many people cohabitate with dust mites quite happily, but others develop allergies to these mites, experiencing asthma, itching, hives, and occasional severe reactions to dust mite infestations.

Depending on the creature responsible, bed mites can cause itching, rashes, runny noses, skin welts, and an aggravation of asthma or allergy symptoms. People may not be aware that they are the problem if the issue is generalized, as it can take some time to connect increases in symptoms with time spent in bed. If symptoms are severe, it is also important to determine which bugs are responsible.

Whether the bed mites involved are dust mites or bed bugs, they can be extremely frustrating and hard to get rid of. Wrapping mattresses can help to cut down on the dust mite population, as can routinely washing all bedding in hot water and drying it on high temperatures. If possible, people should avoid bringing bed bugs into the house at all, by avoiding hotels with bed bug problems. If individuals wake up after a night in a strange bed with itching and red welts, they should inform the owner of the bed that bed bugs are present, and they should wash themselves and their clothing well to avoid carrying bed bugs around with them.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a All Things Nature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments
By anon164967 — On Apr 03, 2011

you can eradicate them with home defense spray and bombs from home depot and then, the most important, go online for fossil flour. order it and sprinkle a line around your bed like a moat and leave it there. don't vacuum it up. the ones attacking from outside your bed will have to go through this flour. it will cut up their shell and kill them.

By klo — On Jun 19, 2010

There are a few ways you can deal with this problem. Rubbing alcohol kills the bugs and their eggs quite effectively. If you can manage to soak your bedding in some kind of rubbing alcohol solution, you may be able to eliminate the problem. However, this may not be practical or even possible depending on the circumstances. Another way to deal with the problem is to get a fabric steamer. The steam will reach deep into the bed and has shown to do a pretty effective job of stopping bedbug infections. If none of these or other D.I.Y. options seem to work for you, I would recommend just going the tried-and-true exterminator route. That should take care of it without fail.

By anon55591 — On Dec 08, 2009

I had a house guest from South America at the beginning of 2009 and once we identified the problem by bringing a specimen to the local office of cornell Cooperative Extension, we began research into trying to better manage the problem of "bed bug" infestation.

We have had some success with a "green product" bought online but I still itch and am especially vulnerable around my scalp and face.

Who out there has also experienced this and what can be done to better manage the problem?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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