Do you sometimes wake up in the morning with runny Nose, watery Eyes? Or find yourself scratching those itchy bumps on your forearms? These could be caused by the works of the nasty perpetrators of your bed. Introducing every housekeeper’s number one nightmare: Bed Bugs and Dust Mites. But what exactly are the similarities and differences between these two pests?
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This article seeks to bring you newfound knowledge on bed bugs and dust mites while allowing you to differentiate the distinct symptoms and treatments for preventive measures in the future.
What are Bed Bugs and Dust Mites?
Bed Bugs are small, oval insects that thrive on the blood of animals or humans. Their bodies are flat and oval in shape, imbued with a reddish-brown colour. They are found anywhere- both clean and dirty places, and travel by hitching a ride from humans and their things.
On the other hand, dust mites are microscopic critters and cannot be seen with our naked eyes. They feed on the flakes of skin of people and animals and thrive in warm and humid environments, like beds, mattresses and carpets.
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Differences between Bed Bugs and Dust Mites
Different Category of Pest
The first and most prominent difference between bed bugs and dust mites are the different categories that these organisms belong to. While bed bugs are classified as insects, dust mites, contrary to popular belief, belong to the arachnid class and are not insects at all! This means dust mites are equipped with eight legs, no antennae and are the relatives of spiders. Bed bugs, on the other hand have 6 legs and a pair of antennae but they do not fly.
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Size of Body
Secondly, the most noticeable difference between these two creatures are their size. While bed bugs are about 5-7mm and can be compared to half the area of your pinky fingernail, dust mites are almost 10 times smaller than bed bugs and can only be seen under the microscope. They are only a mere 0.1-0.5mm in size, so if you can see dust mites, you probably belong in the Avengers Team with Iron Man and Captain America!
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Method of Feeding
Next, another significant difference between dust mites and parasites are the methods of feeding, which teaches us how to recognise and differentiate each of their presence. While bed bugs are parasites, they feed on the blood of animals and humans, piercing through their skin and forming red and swollen bumps at various parts of their bodies as a nasty surprise! Meanwhile, dust mites are not parasitic, which means they do not gain from inflicting harm on their victims, thus dust mites feed on dander, like flakes or remnants of skin shed from people and animals. These are often found in dust, hence the name dust mites!
While dust mites do not inflict harm in the short term, they trigger year-round allergies and asthma, and are problematic because they are difficult to diagnose. Bed bugs can be immediately recognised by red and swollen bumps that usually appear in a line or clusters at parts of our body. These bites are itchy, raised and tend to have a burning sensation.
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Dust mites allergy, meanwhile come across as typical flu symptoms like sneezy, runny nose, watery eyes, itchy nose, etc. The key difference between how dust mites and bed bugs attack is that the impact of dust mites varies per person since some might be more allergic than others and receive a worser case of the symptoms while bed bugs just bite! No discrimination, just red, itchy bumps on your legs and hands.
Similarities and Solutions
So how exactly do we eradicate such pests? Since both bed bugs and dust mites bring problems to people whose house they share, the best bet for eradicating them is the same common solution- lots and lots of cleaning!
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This can be in the form of regular housekeeping, cleaning of bed sheets, curtains and mattresses or using a dehumidifier and lowering the humidity in your bedroom from 80% to around 35%, making the conditions unfavourable for pests like dust mites to thrive. Another novel solution is using baking soda with a few drops of essential oil and sprinkling it all over the mattresses, letting it sip in for approximately 15 mins. After vacuuming the mattress surface to get rid of all the baking soda, the dust mites will be sucked up along with the baking soda.
It is important to note that while bedbugs are more predictable and easier to prevent, dust mites are everywhere and hence it can be more dangerous since it affects anyone susceptible to allergies. Unfortunately, the sad fact is no matter how clean your house is, we always have to coexist with dust mites.