Where Are Mites Found? Uncovering Their Hidden Habitats

Mites are tiny creatures that are found in various environments around the world. You might be surprised to learn how diverse and widespread these microscopic organisms are. In this article, we will explore the different habitats where mites can be found and discuss their significance.

One common place to find mites is in your own home, where they could be lurking in carpets, bedding, and even on your skin. For example, the house dust mite is known to cause allergic reactions in some individuals due to their presence in indoor dust. Another interesting example is the moth ear mite, which lives inside the ears of moths and forms small colonies.

Mites are not just limited to human habitats; they can also be found in nature. They contribute to the decomposition of organic matter in soil, assist in pollination, and even play a role in controlling insect populations. So next time you’re outside, remember that these tiny creatures are hard at work all around you.

Understanding Mites

Mites are tiny arthropods belonging to the Acari subclass. They are closely related to ticks and can be found across many diverse habitats. There are thousands of different species of mites that exist, but typically, they fall under two main groups: Acariformes and Prostigmata.

Acariformes Mites

Acariformes mites are incredibly diverse. They can be found in soil, on plants, and even in water. One example of this group is the clover mite, which is commonly seen on masonry and concrete surfaces. Clover mites live in various environments, but they’re mainly found on walls, stones, and sidewalks.

Prostigmata Mites

Prostigmata mites are another group of mites that can be found almost everywhere. They live on plants, in soil, and even on other animals. An example of this group includes the straw itch mite, known to infest alfalfa, hay, and barley, and can cause irritation to humans. Learn more about straw itch mite here.

Comparison table: Acariformes vs Prostigmata

Aspect Acariformes Prostigmata
Habitat Soil, plants, water Soil, plants, animals
Examples Clover mites, dust mites Straw itch mite, spider mites
Human impact Some species can cause allergic reactions Some species can cause skin irritation

Mites have adapted to countless environments, and it’s common to find them in our surroundings. Some mites can even be beneficial, feeding on pests that harm plants and crops. Your understanding of these diverse creatures can help you appreciate their roles in nature and their potential impact on human life.

Mite Subtypes

House Dust Mites

House dust mites are tiny creatures commonly found in homes, particularly in mattresses, pillows, and upholstery. They feed on the dead skin cells shed by humans and pets. While they are generally harmless, their feces and body parts can cause allergic reactions in some people. Because of their allergenic properties, it’s essential to maintain a clean living environment to reduce their populations.

Scabies Mites

Scabies mites are microscopic pests that burrow into the skin, causing intense itching and rashes. They are transmitted through close physical contact, such as shaking hands or sharing clothing, towels, and bedding. To minimize your risk of contracting scabies, practice good hygiene, and wash your linens and clothing regularly.

Chiggers

Chiggers, also known as harvest mites, are red mites that feed on the skin cells of humans and animals. They are commonly found in grassy fields, forests, and other outdoor areas. Chiggers can cause intense itching and red bumps on your skin. When spending time outdoors, protect yourself by wearing long pants and sleeves, and using insect repellent.

Mite Type Common Location Symptoms Prevention Tips
House Dust Mites Mattresses, pillows Allergic reaction Clean environment
Scabies Mites Human skin Itching, rashes Good hygiene
Chiggers Outdoors, grassy areas Itching, red bumps Repellent, clothing

Demodex Mites

Demodex mites are microscopic parasites that live on your face and hair follicles. There are two types of Demodex mites: Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis. While harmless for most people, these mites can cause skin issues for some, such as acne, rosacea, and redness. To keep your skin healthy, cleanse your face regularly, change your pillowcases often, and avoid using harsh skincare products that may irritate your skin.

Sources of Mites

Mites can be a nuisance in your home, causing allergies and other issues. They can be found in various places, so it’s essential to be aware of their common habitats to help control their presence.

One primary source of mites is dust mites, which are commonly found in house dust. These tiny creatures thrive in bedding, pillows, curtains, and carpets, as well as upholstered furniture. Regular cleaning of these areas can help reduce dust mite populations.

In addition to house dust mite, you may also encounter mites on your pets. For example, dogs and cats may be infested with ear mites or other species that cause skin irritation. Regular grooming and maintaining good hygiene for your pets can help keep these mites in check.

To give you a clearer picture, here’s a comparison table:

Mite Source Where to Find Ways to Minimize Mite Presence
House Dust Mite Bedding, Pillows, Curtains, Carpets, Upholstered Furniture Regular cleaning, vacuuming, washing items in hot water
Pet-related Mites Dogs, Cats Grooming, maintaining pet hygiene, and using appropriate treatments for infestations

Mites can also be found outside your home environment. For instance, some mites infest plants like the cyclamen mite, which can cause damage to flowers and foliage. Regularly inspecting your garden and using proper pest control methods can help manage these outdoor mites.

In conclusion, staying vigilant about mite presence in your home, pets, and garden can help reduce their impacts on your well-being. Regular cleaning, proper hygiene, and pest control will go a long way toward keeping mite populations in check.

Mites and Human Interaction

Itch Mites

Itch mites, also known as Sarcoptes scabiei, are a type of mite that infest mammals, including humans. They usually spread through person-to-person contact, but can also transfer from animals to humans and vice versa1. When itch mites come into contact with your skin, they may cause itching and discomfort.

For example, scabies mites can cause mange in dogs1. Managing itch mites involves maintaining proper hygiene and, in some cases, medical treatment.

Skin Rash and Allergic Reactions

Some mites can cause skin rashes and allergic reactions in humans2. These symptoms can vary in severity and may include:

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Bumps on the skin

In these cases, it is essential to identify and control the mite population to prevent further discomfort.

Scabies Infestation

Scabies is a specific type of infestation caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite1. Scabies spreads through skin-to-skin contact, which means it can easily spread within households or crowded living situations. Symptoms of scabies include:

  • Intense itching
  • Red skin rash
  • Blisters and sores

To treat scabies, you’ll need to consult with a healthcare professional who will likely prescribe medication and may provide additional recommendations to limit mite exposure within your environment.

Remember, keeping your surroundings clean and maintaining good personal hygiene can help prevent mite infestations and reduce the risk of experiencing skin rashes or allergic reactions.

Geographical Spread of Mites

Mites are tiny creatures commonly found in various environments. In the United States, their presence is not limited to specific regions.

Spider mites, for example, exist both indoors and outdoors. They feed on plants and can cause significant damage, leading to yellowing leaves and even plant death. You may discover their spherical, clear-to-pale-green eggs on the underside of leaves where they feed. Adults are known for spinning webbing, which is why they are called Spider mites.

Here are some of the characteristics of spider mites:

  • Found both indoor and outdoor
  • Feed on plants
  • Cause yellowing of leaves and plant death
  • Spin webbing

Eriophyid mites, on the other hand, are not as widely spread. They are more commonly found in Florida, infesting various types of plants. However, they remain microscopic, elongate, and translucent, making them difficult to spot without proper equipment. You can learn more about Eriophyid mites here.

To sum it up, mites are geographically widespread across the United States, with specific types being more prevalent in certain regions. Maintaining healthy indoor and outdoor environments is vital for keeping these pests at bay.

Mite Life Cycle

Mite life cycles vary depending on the species, but they generally follow a similar pattern of growth and development. Let’s take a look at the different stages in a mite’s life cycle.

Eggs: Mites begin their life cycle as eggs, which are laid by adult female mites in various environments, such as thick carpeting, heavy curtains, fabric-covered furniture, beds, and pillows source.

Larvae: After hatching, mites enter the larval stage. During this stage, they have three legs and may be parasitic or predatory, depending on the species source.

Some mite species, such as scabies mites, burrow and produce tunnels one centimeter or more in length just below the surface of your skin, where they lay eggs source. In contrast, other mite species begin as pollen eaters and later become predators or parasites source.

Nymph: The next stage in the mite life cycle is the nymph stage. Nymph mites have four legs, and their life cycle usually takes 10 to 12 days source.

Adult: After completing the nymph stage, mites become adult mites and reproduce, laying more eggs to continue the life cycle. The entire life cycle can take as little as two to three weeks, leading to rapid mite population growth under favorable conditions source.

It’s essential to be aware of the different mite life stages and their characteristics, as some life stages can be more harmful to your health than others. For example, domestic mite species found indoors can cause allergic reactions source.

Mite-Borne Diseases

Asthma and Allergies

Mites can trigger allergies and asthma in sensitive individuals. For example, dust mites are one of the most common indoor allergens. They thrive in bedding, carpets, and furniture, and can cause allergy symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and respiratory problems. To reduce allergy symptoms, you can:

  • Keep humidity levels below 50%.
  • Use allergen-proof covers for your bedding.
  • Vacuum and dust your home regularly.

Asthma can also be triggered by exposure to mites, as inhaling the allergens can lead to bronchial spasms and difficulty breathing. If you have asthma, take steps to manage your mite exposure to prevent asthma attacks.

Scabies and Itchy Skin

Scabies is a skin condition caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite. This mite burrows into the skin, leading to intense itching and skin irritation. Scabies is contagious and spreads through close, skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or contaminated items like bedding and clothing.

Treatment for scabies typically involves prescription medications like creams and lotions that contain insecticides to kill the mites. You should also:

  • Wash all clothes, bedding, and towels in hot water.
  • Vacuum your entire home to remove mite-infested dust.
  • Tell your doctor if you have a weakened immune system, such as HIV, which might require additional treatment to manage scabies effectively.

In summary, mite-borne diseases can cause various issues, including allergies, asthma, and itchy skin conditions like scabies. By taking measures to reduce your exposure to these pests and seeking prompt medical help for any symptoms, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from the discomfort and health risks associated with mite infestations.

Diagnosing Mite Infestations

When you suspect a mite infestation, identifying the symptoms is crucial to get the right diagnosis. One common sign of mite infestations is intense itching. Itching can occur throughout your body or be localized in specific areas.

Another symptom to look for is the presence of burrows. These tiny, thread-like lines on your skin indicate where the mites have tunneled just beneath the surface.

Once you identify some symptoms, consult a doctor or healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. They might perform a skin scraping to examine under the microscope for mite presence, especially in the case of Sarcoptes scabiei, which causes scabies.

Now, let’s take a closer look at some common types of mite bites:

  • Tropical rat mite bites: These bites are often associated with rodents like roof rats. They cause itching and sometimes even allergic reactions.
  • Northern fowl mite bites: These mites are found on birds and can bite humans when they come in contact. The bites can cause itching and rash.

In summary, keep an eye out for symptoms like intense itching, burrows, and mite bites. Once you’ve noticed these signs, consult a doctor to get a proper diagnosis. Remember, the key to addressing a mite infestation is timely identification and professional help.

Treatment and Control of Mites

Household Management

To control mites in your home, it’s important to maintain a clean environment. Minimize clutter and dust by vacuuming regularly, especially in areas where mites can easily thrive, such as carpets, upholstery, and bedding.

  • Keep humidity levels low by using a dehumidifier or an air conditioner.

Mites thrive in high-humidity environments, so maintaining a lower humidity will make it harder for them to reproduce and infest your home. Some ways to control humidity include:

  • Using a dehumidifier or air conditioner
  • Ventilating spaces, especially bathrooms and kitchens
  • Using exhaust fans when cooking or bathing

Medical Solutions

For treating mite-related skin conditions, there are various medical solutions available. Your doctor may prescribe medications to help you find relief from itching and skin discomfort.

  • Over-the-counter antihistamines can help reduce itching and inflammation caused by mite allergies.

  • Topical hydrocortisone creams may also provide relief by reducing redness, swelling, and itchiness.

It’s essential to follow your doctor’s advice and use these medications as directed to effectively treat and manage mite-related symptoms.

Remember, keeping your home clean and controlling humidity are key to preventing mite infestations. If you’re experiencing skin irritation from mites, consult a healthcare professional for advice on appropriate treatments.

Preventing Mite Infestations

To prevent mite infestations in your home, it’s essential to maintain a clean environment. Regularly vacuum and dust your living spaces to eliminate mite habitats. Also, consider using mite-proof mattress and pillow covers to reduce the risk of infestations in your bed.

If you have pets, make sure to properly groom and care for them. This helps prevent mite infestations, especially from mange-causing Sarcoptes scabiei mites found on dogs.

Heat treatment is another effective method for dealing with mite infestations. Frequently wash and dry your bed linens, clothing, and other washable items using high heat settings. Doing so helps kill mites and their eggs and prevents future infestations.

Here are some key points to remember:

  • Vacuum and dust regularly
  • Use mite-proof covers for mattresses and pillows
  • Groom and care for your pets
  • Wash and dry linens and clothing using high heat settings

By following these simple steps, you can keep your living spaces mite-free and enjoy a more comfortable and healthier environment.

Footnotes

  1. Mites Affecting Humans – Illinois Department of Public Health 2 3

  2. When mites attack: domestic mites are not just allergens – PMC

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Mite from Singapore

 

Subject: What is the bug
Location: Singapore
February 21, 2016 2:59 am
Hi,
Found these bugs developed in my fish food when it is left opened for few weeks. Please help to identify it.
Regards
Signature: TS

Mite
Mite

Dear TS,
This is a Mite in the Superorder Acariformes, but we haven’t the ability to provide anything more specific.

Letter 2 – Mite in terrarium

 

Mite or Tick ?
November 19, 2009
i’ve finished my new Azureus tank a few weeks ago, and i’ve found, several times, during the last few days these bugs crawling around my water feature edges.
some info of whats in the viv:
NO Frogs In The Viv ATM !!!
few broms and some riccia starting to expand on the ground.
water feature of waterfall and a pond ( false bottom ). the substrate is a mix of Baltic peat and coco peat/shreds.
thats about it.
omer hauser
U.S.A

Unknown Mite
Unknown Mite

Hi omer,
We needed to do a bit of research just to understand your questions as you used so many abbreviations and words we did not know.  Now we see you have set up a habitat for Dendrobates azureus, poisonous tree frogs, and that the plants are growing.  This looks like a Mite to us.  Not sure what though.  Mites are not our specialty.  Perhaps an acarologist will write in with an identification.

Hi Daniel,
I’m really really sorry for using words you didnt know ( sometimes, i forget that not to long ago i didnt know these words myself 🙂 ) and you had to spend time on research. My sincere apologies.
Thank you for your reply and if you come across a definite answer in this issue, i’d be more than happy if you let me know. I really want to know the common name and the scientific name of that mite.
Thank you again and have a nice weekend.
Omer Hauser

Hi Omer,
Since we do not keep track of our contributors’ email addresses, the best way for you to get your answer is to provide a comment on your own posting, requesting the identification.  If an acarologist writes in the future, our website program will contact you that a comment has been posted to your comment.

Letter 3 – Mite from South Africa

 

Tiny and spider like
Location: South Africa
February 26, 2011 12:35 pm
Hope you can help with an ID for this tiny creature. Body less than 1mm in length. Found it running around on the tiles next to my swimming pool. Runs extremely fast (almost appears to be gliding) in circular patterns and then suddenly stops before taking off again. Seems like it has two white eyes. Must be related to a spider?
Signature: Vida

Mite

Hello Vida,
We really want to commend you for taking such detailed photographs of such a tiny creature.  Your creature is some species of Mite in the subclass Acari.
Your observation that it must be related to a spider is correct since both are classified as Arachnids.  We find the taxonomic classification of Mites to be well beyond our means, and we are reluctant to try to be any more specific than the extremely general identification of Mite.  We would like to add again that your very detailed photographs are quite lovely.

Mite

Letter 4 – Probably a Mealy Bug, NOT a Mite from India

 

Subject: Weird insect
Location: New Delhi India
March 1, 2016 11:44 pm
Hi I am Supriya I live in New Delhi India
There is this weird species of bugs that i ve noticed in the area where i live.
These bugs are seasonal and are seen only during February to May and die when the summer is at its peak.
There is absolutely no pesticide that will kill them unless of course squishing which is really gross because there is a disgusting yellow fluid coming out of them and the stain from that fluid lasts like forever.
I ve seen multitudes of them in areas where there are many peepal trees (u call it peepal in india)
I will be really grateful if u could help me identify them.
Signature: Supriya

Mite we believe
Probably a Mealy Bug

Dear Supriya,
We believe this is some species of Mite, but we cannot find any images to confirm that suspicion.  We have requested assistance in the identification.  It could also be some immature form of something other than a Mite.

Mite, we believe
Probably a Mealy Bug

Eric Eaton confirms comment
Daniel:
It is definitely *not* a mite.  I suspect it is something related to mealybugs, but not knowing the Indian fauna that well, I can’t be 100% positive.
Eric

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Mite from Singapore

 

Subject: What is the bug
Location: Singapore
February 21, 2016 2:59 am
Hi,
Found these bugs developed in my fish food when it is left opened for few weeks. Please help to identify it.
Regards
Signature: TS

Mite
Mite

Dear TS,
This is a Mite in the Superorder Acariformes, but we haven’t the ability to provide anything more specific.

Letter 2 – Mite in terrarium

 

Mite or Tick ?
November 19, 2009
i’ve finished my new Azureus tank a few weeks ago, and i’ve found, several times, during the last few days these bugs crawling around my water feature edges.
some info of whats in the viv:
NO Frogs In The Viv ATM !!!
few broms and some riccia starting to expand on the ground.
water feature of waterfall and a pond ( false bottom ). the substrate is a mix of Baltic peat and coco peat/shreds.
thats about it.
omer hauser
U.S.A

Unknown Mite
Unknown Mite

Hi omer,
We needed to do a bit of research just to understand your questions as you used so many abbreviations and words we did not know.  Now we see you have set up a habitat for Dendrobates azureus, poisonous tree frogs, and that the plants are growing.  This looks like a Mite to us.  Not sure what though.  Mites are not our specialty.  Perhaps an acarologist will write in with an identification.

Hi Daniel,
I’m really really sorry for using words you didnt know ( sometimes, i forget that not to long ago i didnt know these words myself 🙂 ) and you had to spend time on research. My sincere apologies.
Thank you for your reply and if you come across a definite answer in this issue, i’d be more than happy if you let me know. I really want to know the common name and the scientific name of that mite.
Thank you again and have a nice weekend.
Omer Hauser

Hi Omer,
Since we do not keep track of our contributors’ email addresses, the best way for you to get your answer is to provide a comment on your own posting, requesting the identification.  If an acarologist writes in the future, our website program will contact you that a comment has been posted to your comment.

Letter 3 – Mite from South Africa

 

Tiny and spider like
Location: South Africa
February 26, 2011 12:35 pm
Hope you can help with an ID for this tiny creature. Body less than 1mm in length. Found it running around on the tiles next to my swimming pool. Runs extremely fast (almost appears to be gliding) in circular patterns and then suddenly stops before taking off again. Seems like it has two white eyes. Must be related to a spider?
Signature: Vida

Mite

Hello Vida,
We really want to commend you for taking such detailed photographs of such a tiny creature.  Your creature is some species of Mite in the subclass Acari.
Your observation that it must be related to a spider is correct since both are classified as Arachnids.  We find the taxonomic classification of Mites to be well beyond our means, and we are reluctant to try to be any more specific than the extremely general identification of Mite.  We would like to add again that your very detailed photographs are quite lovely.

Mite

Letter 4 – Probably a Mealy Bug, NOT a Mite from India

 

Subject: Weird insect
Location: New Delhi India
March 1, 2016 11:44 pm
Hi I am Supriya I live in New Delhi India
There is this weird species of bugs that i ve noticed in the area where i live.
These bugs are seasonal and are seen only during February to May and die when the summer is at its peak.
There is absolutely no pesticide that will kill them unless of course squishing which is really gross because there is a disgusting yellow fluid coming out of them and the stain from that fluid lasts like forever.
I ve seen multitudes of them in areas where there are many peepal trees (u call it peepal in india)
I will be really grateful if u could help me identify them.
Signature: Supriya

Mite we believe
Probably a Mealy Bug

Dear Supriya,
We believe this is some species of Mite, but we cannot find any images to confirm that suspicion.  We have requested assistance in the identification.  It could also be some immature form of something other than a Mite.

Mite, we believe
Probably a Mealy Bug

Eric Eaton confirms comment
Daniel:
It is definitely *not* a mite.  I suspect it is something related to mealybugs, but not knowing the Indian fauna that well, I can’t be 100% positive.
Eric

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

8 thoughts on “Where Are Mites Found? Uncovering Their Hidden Habitats”

  1. This is a type of mite, for sure. I had a horrible experience with them in my home! They were taking over abandoned rat nests under my house.
    The type that got me were Ornithonyssus sylviarum. I am nearly positive yours are Ornithonyssus as well. Google Northern Fowl Mite or that species name and look at the images.
    To get rid of them you will either need to redo your terrarium OR you can microwave your substrates and cook the bugs out of it. Since you are putting amphibs in there it is risky to use any chemicals. Also, you can use Eucalyptus leaves Or Oil (You have to ask a pharmacist for it here in California (but it’s not a prescription-not sure where you are) I have worked with reps and amphibs and used the leaves and oil successfully. (If you use the oil, put some on a tissue and put in a closed cup or jar with holes poked in the top.)
    Let me know what you think if you look at the images! Good luck
    Jennifer

    Reply
  2. The mite in the photo is in the family Ascidae (in the broad sense), probably the genus Platyseius. These mites prey on nematodes in very wet situations, so finding them around your water source is understandable. They won’t bite or harm your frogs. It is definitely not a parasitic mite like Ornithonyssus!

    Reply
  3. I suspect this may be some sort of scale insect (such as a mealybug) rather than a mite, as it has a more segmented look than is typical for a mite. I think what you’ve evidently interpreted as the first pair of legs may be the antennae.

    Reply

Leave a Comment