-- Sometimes called grain mites --
Summary: These tiny white or tan mites feed on the mold that grows on damp surfaces. They are common pests in food warehouses and food processing plants. The mites also can occur in homes where a moisture problem or water leak causes mold growth.
Mold mites feed on mold
Mold mites are tiny white or tan colored mites that are sometimes found in homes. They are usually associated with excess moisture that promotes mold growth and often occur in kitchens and bathrooms. The mites feed on mold and populations can grow rapidly.
While mold mites are harmless, they don't bite or cause structural damage, they do have long "hairs", called setae, which when broken off can become airborne and cause a type of allergic reaction in some people. In fact, dust mites, which are notorious sources of allergen, are closely related to mold mites. Finding these mites may also indicate a moisture/excess humidity problem which itself can be unhealthy and should be fixed as soon as possible.
Mold mite control in homes
In terms of control the most important thing is to locate and eliminate the sources of moisture that are promoting mold growth. This can be as simple as fixing a leaky pipe to something as complicated as sealing a damaged foundation. Often the appearance of mites is seasonal being highest when outside conditions are wet. Mites also sometimes can alert you to a leaky pipe or leaky door seal on a dishwasher. Just remember - when these mites are found think "where is the moisture coming from?"!
Insecticides are generally not needed nor are they very effective. Once the source of moisture/mold is eliminated the mites will go away on their own.
In situations where a relatively small amount of material is moldy and shows signs of mold mite activity that best treatment is heat or cold. For example a bag of grain or dry pet food could be either heated or frozen and this would eliminate the mites. Heating might also dry out the material and thus completely eliminate the problem. If freezing treatment is used it must be long enough to freeze to the center of the bag. Same caution with heating (130-150 deg. F), long enough to heat the center of the bag. Both procedures assume that heat or cold won't damage the product. Seeds for example could be damaged by either heat or cold.
Professional perimeter sprays, baits and wall void treatments generally are not available in home and garden stores but can be found at DoMyOwn, our affiliate.
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