There are numerous mites that are capable of invading our homes. Mites that originate from animals can easily enter a home (due to their tiny size) through tiny entrance points around windows, doors or any other space large enough for them to squeeze through. Other mites that originate from plants do not migrate as well as other mites but they can enter our homes by hitching a ride on anyone that works in gardens, hot houses, nurseries or even children playing outdoors. Most plant mites do not bite but they can be an annoyance when their numbers are high. These mites can also cause an allergic reaction in some people.
The first (and most important) step in eliminating biting mites from your home is to eliminate all possible sources. If you know exactly which mite has infested your home, the task would be simple. Identifying the pest is the real trick. This arachnids (who are related to spiders more than than insects) are so small that either a hands lends or microscope must be used in identification. Even with proper viewing device, a professional or entomologist is usually required to make a correct identification.
For the average person, identification of a particular mite is too difficult. Instead of squinting through a hands lens at a bug that is as small as a speck of dust or as large as a tiny tick, your time is better spent looking for possible sources of the infestation. In many cases this task is simple because certain animals have been seen in the area. Common sources of biting mites are birds, raccoons, rats, mice or other animals that nest in, below or very near the home. Other annoying mites have plants as natural hosts.
Once an animal dies or leaves its nest, the mites left behind in the nesting material (or immediate area) will begin to move about as they search for another host. Many of the biting mites can live for a couple of weeks without a blood meal, which makes it easier for them to migrate to another warm blooded host.
Ridding your home of rodent infestations and cleaning up or destroying all possible nesting materials will go a long way in reducing the mite populations. Inspect beneath eaves and other over hangs, window ledges, fireplaces, chimneys, attics and crawl spaces. You might be surprised to find evidence of birds, rodents or other wildlife. If no evidence of birds or animals are found, you should inspect plants around the home before starting a spray program. Sprays are indeed a great help but you need to know which type to use for safe and adequate control of the mite infestation.
Once you have made a thorough inspection but failed to find any sort of wildlife evidence in your home, turn your attention to shrubs, grasses and other plants that are near your home. If you find evidence of mites on plants or see damage from mites or their possible predators (lacewings are an example) you should treat the plants with an approved miticide. For vegetables or edible crops, take care as to which product you spray. These types of mite and insect sprays will be discussed in the chemical control section of this article.
Many people who discover mites in their homes (or just suspect mites, due to itching, scratching) will jump the gun, spraying and fogging everything in
site – and usually with poor results! As in any integrated pest management program, certain steps should be followed to safely rid your home of pests using the holistic approach: identify the pest; locate its source and eliminate if possible; reduce conditions that contribute to the migration, feeding and reproduction of the pest; use chemicals as a last resort; choose correct chemical for the job.
Choose your pest control products wisely. Not every insecticide that kills roaches, spiders and ants will kill a mite. Even the pesticide sprays labeled for spraying mites will sometimes suppress the pest instead of killing it quickly.
Products labeled for controlling mites usually have specific sites, locations or plants where they are allowed to be used. Follow the label! Not only do you need to use products that will not harm plants but you must also use only products labeled for indoors, if you intend to spray indoors.
For mites found in the home, a spray solution of Tempo SC is a good choice of product. Tempo (a Cyfluthrin product) can be sprayed indoors and also has an excellent label for spraying ornamentals in your landscape areas Use this spray as a spot treatment indoors, an ornamental spray and to treat the exterior surfaces of the home. This spray application will help control mites indoors, on plants and helps prevent more from entering the structure. Very small amounts of Tempo SC concentrate are needed to make odorless pest control solutions.
There are other products that can be sprayed on plants around your home. If you know that your mite problem originated from vegetation, a suitable spray (or dust) can be used. These plant spray products are not labeled for use inside your home! The most popular of these products is Fruit Tree Spray, a powder concentrate labeled for use on roses, fruit trees and ornamental shrubs. This product contains several different active ingredients that will control insects, mites, scale, fungus and certain plant diseases. Do not use Fruit Tree Spray on vegetables and do not use it inside of your home. For more sensitive plants (vegetables, etc.) a solution of Safer Soap can be used. Tempo SC and Fruit Tree Spray are insecticides with a better knock down of listed insects and pests and they have a much longer residual than insecticide soap. An insecticide soap is very safe to spray on sensitive plants but expect to re-spray every couple of days as this product does not have a residual or long lasting effect.
If any pest is suspected or known to be in wall voids, use Drione Dust or Delta Dust in these areas. Drione Dust has a faster knock down and a good residual. Delta Dust is water proof and will not be harmed by moisture or condensation in areas where it is applied. Use a hand bellows duster to apply your insecticide dust into cracks, crevices, entry points or hiding places of targeted pests. Some people do not like to spray plants but would rather use an insecticide dust to treat for plant pests. Permethrin Dust is a good choice for the job. Permethrin is safer to use than Sevin, where children, pets and wildlife are concerned, when used as directed. Permethrin Dust can be applied with either a hand bellows duster or a crank duster. The crank duster is better for gardens and larger jobs.
There will be times when, after an exhausting inspection, you still cannot locate the source or sources of the invading mites. When this happens you generally have to use a “broad brush” approach in controlling the tiny pests. In this case, spray with a Cyfluthrin product. You can spot treat indoors as well as broadcast exterior surface of the structure and spray plants around the structure.