Knowing how to successfully treat and control dust mites will satisfy allergen-prone customers as well as providing a potential upselling opportunity in the form of dust covers and protectors.
Although dust mites can cause serious health issues, they don’t bite or transmit diseases, so cannot be the cause of any mysterious bites reported by homeowners. The main issue with dust mites is the strong allergens in their bodies, secretions, faeces and shed skins. House dust mites are probably the most common source of household allergen in Australia, especially in humid coastal areas and can cause childhood asthma, eczema, chronic or recurrent sinusitis and middle ear infections.
Although dust mites will be killed by most standard surface spray treatments, there is no dust mite treatment that can eliminate dust mites from a home and keep the property dust mite free. It’s all about management.
Dust mite biology
There are several species of dust mite in Australia, the most common being Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus. They live in the fine layer of ‘dust’ particles that settle on household items, furnishings, beds and carpets. Dust mites prefer humid conditions and warmer temperatures and dislike strong light. They feed on shed human skin, fungal spores, plant fibres, pollen grains and other particles that make up ‘dust’.
Dusts mites are very difficult to see with the naked eye, with the adults only 0.5mm in length and white to light tan colour. The life cycle takes one month to complete; from egg, to larval stage, two nymphal stages then the adult. The females can lay one to two eggs per day and live up to two months. Under favourable conditions, numbers can build up quite rapidly.
Day to day management
Make conditions less favourable to dust mites and clean regularly to remove dust mites and their food sources:
- Reduce humidity/mould
- Vacuum carpets and dust weekly
- Wash bedding and vacuum mattress weekly
- Use bed bug/dust mite, mattress and pillow protectors (your sales opportunity!)
- Remove soft toys from susceptible children.
Management by design
Reduce dust mite harbourages and create surfaces that are easier to clean:
- Replace carpets with hard flooring
- Replace curtains with non-fabric blinds
- Purchase vinyl or leather furniture (rather than fabric).
Although the actions above may not generate direct business to a pest control company, providing such advice will definitely help to build the customer relationship, which will hopefully deliver long-term benefits. Many of the actions above will also make the homeowner less susceptible to outbreaks of fabric pests, such as clothes moths, carpet beetles and silverfish.