What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

My laptop’s infested!
Hello there!
About two weeks ago, crawling down the screen of our (immaculately clean, less than a year old) laptop, was a speck barely a millimetre across. I though, How cute! There’s a living thing on our laptop! Now, I love insects and do not give in to urges of wanton annihilation. So I usually, and peacefully, show them the way out the window. However, this morning I woke up to find scores of these animated specks doing the locomotion on our monitor! Lately the screen has been giving us the occasional, brief flicker. Were these incidents manifestations of our animated friends crawling over, and shorting, the circuit boards? I want them gone! I’m attaching photos. Sorry about the fuzziness, but there’s only so much a macro lens can do. Remember these creatures are all less than 1mm across. What are they? Where do they come from? What do they feed on? Why did they get into our monitor? How do we get them out without breaking the computer apart? Your advice is anxiously awaited.
Best,
k
Malta

Hi K,
We suspect your computer loving critters are a species of Mite. The question, and the root of the eradication, is why are they after the computer? Sadly, we don’t have an answer. We suspect they might be in your dwelling for another reason. They could be Bird Mites or Rodent Mites, of just Predatory Mites. Sadly, the photo isn’t detailed enough for us to give you an exact identification, and we are not experts in the order Acari even if the photos were tack sharp.

Hello, thank you very much for your reply! Since then we have discovered them everywhere in my tiny 3m x 2.5m study. On books, papers, other bits of furniture or equipment… Now we live in a fairly new apartment, built entirely out of stone. The study has one ventilator leading to the outside, which is protected by a plastic grill on the outer wall. So I guess that would eliminate both rats and birds as a possible source. I’ve called over a pest control technician. He said that they’re wood mites (?) and that they need moisture to survive. Now this being a new place, and with this winter having been particularly wet (and also, with Malta being a small island in the Mediterranean), we’ve had problems with excessive humidity. The technician suggested installing a dehumidifier in the room, and he said that once we bring humidity down, the mites will die on their own. There must be some truth in what the technician said, in that I’ve discovered fairly large concentrations of mites on the covers of hardback books without dustjackets, which seem to be more prone to humidity (in fact one was going mouldy without my realising that it was… and this in the space of just three weeks since I had last used it). We have now installed a dehumidifier, which is kept on all the time, but still, the mites keep coming out…
k

Update from Barry M. OConnor (05/23/2006)
Computer loving mites (1/3/06). This is a species in the family Acaridae, genus Tyrophagus. One of the most common mites found in homes or other buildings, Tyrophagus putrescentiae, sometimes called the "mold mite" will feed on a wide range of organic materials. They are white, somewhat oblong in shape, and have long body setae. They can be part of the normal "house dust fauna" and may be a minor source for house dust allergy. They’re fairly desiccation tolerant as mites go.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
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6 Responses to Computer Loving Mites

  1. I write not so much as a correction but as an additional different observation, Post it as you decide. Years ago (roughly about 27), I worked for Wells Fargo Alarm Services in Baltimore, MD. I personally observed a different type of what I was told at the time it was actually called a computer mite. It was white in color, about1/8 inch (Sorry, I’m American S.A.E. NOT METRIC) and It appeared to be about a 1/16 of an inch thick. Sorry AGAIN, I’m American S.A.E. – STILL NOT METRIC and dam proud of it, and won’t even consider making a change about it to the European/Scientific want-to-be standard. Please save you breath. The WELLS FARGO ENGINEER thought they arrived with the replacement part shipped in from WELLS FARGO’S PHILLADELLPHIA OFFICE. As we replaced a mal-funtioning key board we noticed white dust (which turned out to be bugs (mites) falling from the old part. He said the engineers had seen that “problem” before and had caught some and had them tested and identified by a Professor friend they had at UCLA (they were out of REDONDO BEACH, CA). We never saw the “problem” again, or the “saw dust”, Our part of the “problem” never returned either. If I can answer any questions, feel free to email me at: wburns797@verizon.net. There’s more to the story, but had toe left-off because of space constraints.

  2. AS I THOUGHT I EXPLAINED IN MY EARLIER CORRESPONDENCE, SORRY GUYS. THAT WAS TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS AGO. I DON’T THINK I EVER KNEW THE PROFESSOR’S NAME. AND SINCE THE “BUGS” WERE WIPED OUT, I REALLY DIDN’T CARE AT THE TIME. YES, IT WOULD BE NICE NOW TO HAVE THOSE IDENTIFIERS, BUT AT THE TIME THEY WERE NOT IMPORTANT COMPARED TO MAINTAINING THE SECURITY FOR ALL OF OUR CUSTOMERS SERVICED FROM OUR BALTIMORE BRANCH. SORRY, NO PICTURES EITHER. IF I HAD MORE, I’D BE HAPPY TO PASS IT ALONG.

  3. Laura says:

    Hi,

    I’ve seen a few of these on my computer lately and would just get a napkin a squish, but thought nothing of it. But last night I I had something crawling on my hand and then notice on my screen a couple mites. I researched and found that they don’t like cold, which is one of the reasons they like the warm computer. Someone asked on a forum, if they could put the computer in a freezer and would it ruin it? Well, I have an old laptop and keep everything of importance on an external harddrive. So, I thought what the heck, if I go the route of opening my computer and spraying with a dust spray can, it won’t bother any if they’re in the screen and I didn’t want to take a chance of opening the screen too. Furthermore, I’m not a tech and might screw something up.

    I took the plunge and put my computer in a plastic sealed tight plastic bag and put it in my freezer for about 4 hours! I took it out, let it go back to room temperature (about 3 hours) and turned it on. So far, so good. My computer booted up with no problems and I haven’t seen one bug on my screen or self!!!

    I have taken precautions though and washing all my bedding, clothing in bleach and borax. Doing a complete thorough cleaning to all services, using bleach and water on some surfaces, other surfaces, I’m using 1/2 ammonia and 1/2 water and spraying the couches, mattress. Washed my body in menthol soaps (I hear they hate menthol), my hair too!

    I hope it was only isolated to my computer :/

  4. AmandaWinters says:

    Computer mites feed on crumbs under your keyboard, which is why it is recommended to not eat over a computer keyboard or laptop.
    The way to get rid of them is to put a flat attachment on your hoover and vacuum over the keys while your computer switched off or keyboard is unplugged.
    If you have one of those keyboards where they keys safely just pop out, then you can do that to hoover up the crumbs and computer mites more effectively, but do a little research first and check that the keys can be taken out of your keyboard without causing any damage, keyboards are all different!

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