When you think of a mold patch in your home, you probably don’t think much of it. Since mold is just a collection of tiny fungal spores, most people just wipe it up without a second thought. When you think of mold growing, you think of the moisture and darkness that mold needs to feed on in order to grow.
What most people don’t consider is that the mold is actually serving as a food source for something else. Tyophagus putescentiae may sound made up, but it is the scientific name for a tiny creature more commonly known as the mold mite. These tiny insects, similar to dust mites, feed on the mold. Even a tiny patch can be a huge buffet for thousands of mold mites.
What Are Mold Mites?
Scientists first discovered mold mites all the way back in 1781 in Austria. They are tiny, hairy insects that thrive on mold and use it as their main food source. Since they are so small, they are nearly imperceptible to the human eye alone.
We should mention that you may also encounter insects that look very similar, but are not true mold mites. These other mites fall into the same larger family of mites, but have different food sources leading to their names. For example, you may find similar mites in old cheese (cheese mites), flour mites mixed into your old sack of flour, or grain mites in your whole grains. Keep in mind that these are not healthy and should be disposed of by throwing away the entire food, but that they are not mold mites or caused by mold.
Are Mold Mites Bad For My Health?
In short, mold mites are no worse for your health than the mold which they feed on. With that being said, you should take care to rid your house of them should you find an infestation. Unlike bed bugs and many other insects, mold mites don’t bite. In fact, they aren’t “dangerous” to humans at all. What you may notice are symptoms like allergies. Mold mites’ bodies are covered in long hairs that are used for sensory perception. However, these fall out and become airborne, polluting your home’s air. Breathing them in can lead to respiratory symptoms like coughing, sneezing, or a sore throat.
How Do I Identify Mold Mites?
As mentioned earlier, identifying mold mites with the naked eye is practically impossible. However, if you notice a patch of mold growing somewhere in your home, you may be able to spot an accompanying mold mite colony. The tiny insects are typically white or tan, and you can see them when they accumulate in an area. Although to your eyes they will seem like only a discolored patch, a high definition camera may be able to spot them. Try taking a picture up close and then zooming in all the way. You may just see the tiny mites and confirm that they are feasting on the mold growth.
How To Get Rid Of Mold Mites
Getting rid of mold mites requires getting rid of their food source. If they have nothing to feed on, they can’t survive and will no longer be a problem. So, to get rid of a mold mite problem, you need to handle your mold problem. If it is a small patch you can do this on your own using a water and vinegar solution along with physical scrubbing to kill and remove the mold. The mold mites will get scrubbed away with it. Any that remain will quickly die off. To ensure that no new mold mites appear, take steps to avoid mold growth in your home like using HEPA air filters and keeping moisture away.