Last Updated on February 16, 2024 by Saira Farman
You don’t want to find either dust mites and bed bugs in your bed, but it’s still important to know the difference between these two pests. By taking steps to understand the differences between these pests, you’ll be prepared better to take the right action and reduce their number in your home.
Table of Contents
Dust mites are close relatives to ticks and spiders, but they’re too small to see without a microscope, unlike bed bugs. House dust mites are translucent to white in colour and have been described as ball-shaped. They prefer to live in the bedroom because there they have plenty of food in the bed and bedding.
Bed bugs are tiny, oval, brown insects with flat bodies that are about the size of an apple seed. They have a pair of front wings, but they can’t fly. Despite that, they move quickly over floors, walls, and ceilings and as their name suggests, they live and hide in the cracks and crevices of bed frames, bedside tables and drawers. This is one of the things they have in common with dust mites – they like to crawl into mattresses, bed sheets, pillows and blankets.
Young bed bugs, also known as nymphs, are similar in colour to dust mites, being translucent to yellow in colour. However, once they’ve eaten, they turn red. Besides that, these pests belong to different categories. While bed bugs are classified as insects, which means that among other features, they have antennae and 3 pairs of legs, dust mites aren’t insects at all. They are classified as arachnoids and have 8 legs and no antennae.
Behaviour and Lifestyle
Dust mites thrive perfectly in a domestic environment because if there’s proper insulation, air circulation and ventilation are reduced. As a result, the humidity increases and the dust mites infest regardless of how clean and tidy your home is. In most homes, items such as bedding, upholstered furniture and carpeting provide an ideal environment for them. That’s why dust mite
allergies tend to peak in the summer months when their populations increase because of the warm weather.
Dust mites feed on skin scales that humans shed. Human sweat provides them with water, and the typically warm atmosphere in a bedroom lets them breed easily because they absorb moisture from the humidity in a room.
On the other hand, bed bugs feed on human and animal blood. Even though they’re larger than dust mites, you’ll probably never notice the insects themselves. However, the red bumps on your skin in the morning should show that there’s some issue. This is because bed bugs are mainly active at night and bite people while they’re sleeping by piercing the skin with an elongated beak.
The assumption that someone has a bed bug infestation because of a dirty property isn’t true. They often invade many luxurious hotels. The issue has nothing to do with cleanliness and you’re as likely to find them in immaculately maintained homes and hotels as you’re in filthy ones. Because they’re extremely skilled hitchhikers, beg bugs can enter your home by crawling on your clothes or other fabric items such as suitcases.
Allergies and Diseases
Luckily, even though bed bugs are a nuisance, they aren’t known to transmit diseases. Most bed bug bites are painless at first but later turn into itchy welts, which usually appear on any area of exposed skin. Many people don’t realise bed bugs cause them and attribute the symptoms to other sources, such as mosquitoes. However, if you don’t deal with a bed bug infestation promptly, you can become allergic to their saliva.
In contrast, dust mites can cause bad allergies. Dust contains their faeces and decaying bodies, and it’s the proteins present in this debris that are responsible for a dust mite allergy. Its symptoms are similar to those of common hay fever. Dust mite allergies can cause a runny nose, nasal congestion and sneezing. If you have such allergies, your eyes can water, itch and become red and inflamed. They may even affect the lungs resulting in wheezing and causing people with asthma’s condition to worsen. Other symptoms can include coughing accompanied by a dry and sore throat, facial pressure and pain and swollen, blue-coloured skin under your eyes.
The severity of a dust mite allergy can vary. In extreme cases, headaches and loss of smell can also occur. Besides that, the condition may be chronic, resulting in persistent sneezing, cough, congestion, facial pressure, an eczema flare-up or severe asthma attack. If dust mite allergy complicates your asthma condition, you may also experience difficulty breathing, chest tightness or pain, an audible whistling or wheezing when exhaling and trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath.
Unlike bed bugs, dust mites don’t bite humans, so allergic reactions related to them don’t cause skin irritations.
Risk Factors of Dust Mite Allergy
You are more likely to develop a dust mite allergy if the following factors apply to you:
● Having a family history of allergies. You’re more likely to develop a sensitivity to dust mites if members of your family also have allergies.
● Exposure to dust mites. Being exposed to high levels of dust mites, especially early in life, increases your risk of developing an allergy.
● Being a child or a young adult. People are more likely to develop dust mite allergies during childhood or early adulthood.
Besides that, if you have a dust mite allergy, exposure to the bugs and their debris can cause health complications, such as sinus infections (sinusitis) and asthma.
To help prevent a dust mite allergic reaction, you can apply an allergen barrier balm around the edge of each nostril. Nasal sprays and petroleum jelly are alternative solutions to the problem. Besides that, several over-the-counter and prescription medicines help relieve the symptoms such as anti-histamines.
To be proactive in your fight against dust mite allergies, you can take the following precautions: ● Buy airtight, plastic dust mite covers to put on your pillows and mattresses.
● Vacuum carpets weekly with a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air filter if possible.
● Make sure to wash your bedding regularly at a high temperature. Don’t forget to wash curtains frequently too.
● Keep the rooms in your house well-ventilated and cool and keep the humidity in your house below 50%. Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to do this.
● Use anti-allergen cleaning products.
● Avoid using wool blankets and quilts.
● Reduce unnecessary soft furnishings and avoid wall-to-wall carpeting if it’s possible. It’s recommended to use washable throw rugs over wood, linoleum or tiled floors.
If you suspect you have a bed bug infestation in your home, take the following steps:
● Wash your bedding, linens, curtains, and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest setting. Place any unwashed items in the dryer and run at the highest temperature for 30 minutes.
● Vacuum your bed and the surrounding area, seal the cleaner bag well and dispose of it in the garbage container outdoors.
● Encase your mattress and box springs with a tightly woven, zippered cover to keep the bedbugs from entering or exiting. They can live up to a year without feeding, so keep it on for at least 1 year to ensure all of them are dead.
● Repair any cracks in the plaster and glue down any wallpaper peeling to eliminate any potential hiding spots for bedbugs. This includes any clutter around your bed.
If you have bed bug and dust mite infestation despite all the preventative measures you’re taking, it’s best to get a bed bug extermination. They’ll make sure your home is treated safely and effectively with non-toxic pesticides, enabling you to sleep peacefully again.