Learn about Mites
Individual members of the subclass Acari, more commonly known as mites, are minuscule arachnids with four pairs of legs.
There are many varieties of mites, but most of them will be less than one millimeter long. While most mites are harmless, some can be a detriment, and an infestation of mites can still be a problem.
Notably, the word gnat is colloquial, as there is no official scientific definition for what a gnat precisely is.
Like many insects, moisture and a food source attract gnats, but they are also attracted to moist soil and decaying organic matter. While most gnats are not particularly dangerous insects, they are multitudinous and breed quickly, allowing them to infest an area fast.
|Varies depending on species; some are white, some are reddish-brown, others are clear, etc.||Eight|
|Round or oval||Less than 1 mm|
- Mites can live on land or in water.
- It can be found in a large variety of climates.
- Some mites are free-living; others are parasitic.
- Live both indoors and outdoors.
The habits largely depend on the particular type of mite. For example, parasitic mites can feed on anything from mammals (humans included), to birds and other insects.
Some mites are microbial filter feeders, and others will eat plants. Others might go unnoticed, such as microscopic dust mites. For those that are parasitic or plant-eaters, they can cause skin irritation or destruction of crops.
A mite’s habitat depends significantly on the bug, as certain mites can last in cold climates or high altitudes, and others cannot.
Some mites prefer to live on decaying organic materials, some live in soil, and some live on plants or fungi. Parasitic mites live on a host.
When most mites reproduce, the female is inseminated indirectly, although some reproduce directly.
The female mite will lay eggs on the surface on which they live, which can take days or weeks to hatch, depending on the species.
Mites begin life in a larval stage, after which they molt into protonymphs, and then adults.
The amount of time they live depends on the species once they reach the adult stage. Some mites can live for months, while others only for weeks.
Most mites are harmless; however, the harmful ones can pose significant threats to people and vegetation alike. Parasitic mites can bite and cause skin irritation, and ones like the chigger can (in rare cases) spread various diseases.
Dust mites can cause allergies or trigger an asthma attack. The itch mite (Sarcoptes scabiei) burrows into a host’s skin and gives them a skin infestation called scabies.
For pet owners, the itch mite can be responsible for sarcoptic mange, too, which causes skin irritation. Mites that eat plants can cause massive amounts of destruction to crops if left unchecked. Furthermore, mites are difficult to detect due to their tiny size.
Mite infestation prevention is, for the most part, simple. Insecticides can deal with some mites that are harmful to plants. Insecticides can deal with some mites, but other times specialized miticides are required to deal with certain species.
For spider mites, a cloth dampened with a diluted detergent solution (one-and-a-half teaspoons mixed in a gallon of water) can be used to wipe them from plants they have infested.
For dust mites, adequate cleanliness, and regular washing of household fabrics should prevent an infestation.
In other cases, however, a professional might be needed to avoid an infestation.