No one wants their home to be infested with bed bugs or mites. Before you can eliminate either of these pests, however, it’s important to understand some of the distinct differences between the two. When you are trying to differentiate between mites vs. bed bugs, it’s often a good idea to call on a bed bug control professional for assistance. Below are some facts about each pest that might help you.
Both do different things and impact your quality of life in different ways. But before you can deal with these pests, you need to understand their differences, habitats and health hazards.
Here are a few things you need to know to properly distinguish between the two common pests so you can deal with them appropriately.
The Difference between Bed bugs and mites:
Bed bugs and mites may both be pests and both have bites that can cause skin irritation, but that's about where their similarities end.
What do bed bugs look like?
Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown in color and about one-fourth of an inch long. Their bodies are oval and flattened, somewhat resembling an apple seed. They have six slender legs and possess two antennae.
Bed bugs have a long, slender mouthpart known as the proboscis that they use to pierce the skin of their host animal and siphon a blood meal. Immature bed bugs, called nymphs, look similar to the adults but they're smaller and are typically lighter in color.
What do mites look like?
There are at least between three to five million species of mites, and each species looks at least slightly different. However, they're all types of arachnids, belonging to the same family as the spiders you may find around your home. Some mites are approximately one-eighth of an inch long and can be seen with the naked eye. However, some species, like scabies and dust mites, are so small that they cannot be seen without the aid of a magnifying glass or microscope.
Mites develop through four life stages – egg, larval, nymph and adult. Immature mites have six legs and develop eight legs once they reach adulthood.
Dust mites vs. bed bugs
Though there are thousands of species of mites, dust mites are the most common and can be the most problematic. They're even more common than bed bugs.
But dust mites not only look different from bed bugs, they act differently as well. Read on to learn what you need to know to tell the difference.
Dust mite bites vs. bed bug bites
Both dust mites and bed bugs can cause skin reactions in some individuals, especially those with sensitive skin or conditions. Bed bugs do this by biting you and feeding on your blood. The wounds caused by bed bug bites are characterized by raised red bumps, similar to what you'd see with a mosquito bite. In some people, bed bug bites can result in large, swollen welts.
Dust mites, on the other hand, don't actually bite you. Instead, it is actually their waste and decaying bodies that can cause an allergic reaction in some. These symptoms are often worse during the spring and summer months and may include the following symptoms:
- Itchy eyes
- Scratchy throat
If you notice skin irritation, consult your doctor as soon as possible. You may simply be experiencing an allergic reaction to dust mites. But you may also be dealing with exposure to other insects. Your doctor should be able to identify the cause of your skin irritation.
If you find out that the irritation is caused by dust mites, they can recommend a treatment protocol to help relieve symptoms. But if the problem is related to an insect bite, whether it's caused by bed bugs or other unwanted insects, you'll need to consult with a pest control specialist.
Are dust mites bed bugs?
Though dust mites are common and can impact your comfort level inside your house, they are completely different from bed bugs. They don't bite and are so small that you can't see them with your naked eye. Further, you won't ever be able to get rid of them entirely.
The best thing you can do to reduce the number of dust mites in your home is to stay on top of your routine cleaning efforts. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences offers the following dust mite prevention strategies:
- Vacuum and dust your home at least once a week.
- Keep mattresses and pillows in allergen-blocking covers.
- Following the manufacturer recommendations, wash bedding weekly in hot water.
- Use a dehumidifier to lower humidity levels.
Where are you likely to find bed bugs and mites in your home? Bed bugs are typically found, as their name implies, in or near your bed. They can be found in the seams and folds of mattresses as well as in box springs. Bed bugs are also commonly found on the backsides of headboards. As a bed bug infestation grows, they spread to nearby articles of upholstered furniture, behind baseboards, into wall voids, beneath loose flooring and behind electrical switches.
There are generally three species of mites that readily infest homes – the bird mite, the clover mite and the dust mite. The bird mite prefers to feed on the blood of birds and rodents but will bite humans if their host animal dies. Because they are carried by their host to various locations, they can be found inside walls, in the attic and in cracks and crevices near wherever birds or rodents may nest.
Clover mites do not bite humans, but they can be alarming because they sometimes enter buildings by the thousands. Clover mites feed on clover, ivy, fruit trees and other plants and tend to enter structures when whether is extreme, such as very dry or very wet.
The dust mite is so small that it's virtually invisible. These mites do not feed on humans but can easily become airborne. Dust mites and their feces are one of the most common allergens found indoors. Pillows, mattresses and upholstered furniture are typical nesting sites for dust mites.
Do I need to worry about disease with mites vs bed bugs?
When it comes to bed bugs, you won't have to worry about them exposing you to certain diseases or health conditions. Though these insects bite and can cause uncomfortable welts, they don't carry and transmit disease-causing pathogens to humans or animals.
Some species of mites, however, can spread diseases. But such species are rare and transmission doesn't happen easily. It's far more likely that you'll experience a skin infection due to intense scratching after exposure to dust mites or bed bug bites.