My laptop’s infested!
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.
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…
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.