Wanted: D. pteronyssinus, the house dust mite
Millions are supposed to live in the mattresses. And it is also claimed that the house dust mites can be found in every mattress. The idea of exposing thousands of creepy looking arachnids when you go to bed at night makes many people shiver.
This alone has greatly increased the need to control these animals, just as there is an increasing demand for “mite-proof” products. When buying mattresses, many customers ask how great the risk of house dust allergy is and how to protect themselves from mites.
Since we came by chance to a good stereomicroscope these days, I wanted to know for myself and take a personal look at these animals that live in my bed without being asked. First I took a wide adhesive tape and removed the dust from my well used mattress and put it under the microscope full of expectation. Unfortunately none of the animals had been caught by me. I then vacuumed the mattress thoroughly with a fresh dust bag and then cut open the bag and examined it. There was a lot to see here, but again no mites to discover.
And being a persistent person, I asked my colleagues and friends to also vacuum their mattresses and then hand me their dust bags. In the depth of a microscope view everything seems frighteningly close and big. It doesn’t always look appetizing what comes to the eye, especially because you don’t know where the particles all come from. But among the thousands of particles, to my astonishment, I haven’t found a single mite.
According to statistical studies by the mite researcher Dr. J. Th. Franz, about 70 % of households should be affected by mites. Should I and my colleagues be among the happy 30% who have no mites? That would be surprising and hard to believe. So I’m gonna keep looking for the mites. At least once I would like to see the horror beasts of horror face to face, who manage to scare a large part of the population and help the anti mite industry to achieve good sales.
According to the University of Kiel, house dust allergies account for only 8 % of allergic diseases. Assuming that one third of people in Germany have allergic diseases, only 2.6% of people would be allergic to house dust.
Should it perhaps be the case that the reports of house dust mites have been played up because people can be so successfully frightened with the pictures of the mites? And should the fear of these shady and heartless animals be based on excessively exaggerated claims?
By the way, you can also determine whether mites are in your environment without a microscope. With simple test strips and a test liquid, which you can obtain in the pharmacy (e.g. Acarex test or Milbiol test), you can determine how high the antail of guanine (part of the mite excrement) is in the house dust.