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Mold Mites

- 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.

Jack DeAngelis, PhD
OSU Ext. Entomologist (ret.)
my resume

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 the 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 can be unhealthy and should be fixed as soon as possible.

mold mite

mold mite - highly magnified (drawing). Note long "hairs" that can easily break off.

Control excess moisture first

The most important thing is to locate and fix 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?"!

These mites can also be very common in damp coastal climates or in areas with high seasonal rainfall. In these cases dehumidifing the air may be your only option. Central heating, which tends to dry the air, may help as well.

Mold mite control in homes

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.

If you still have questions about mold mites or need a bug id click here.

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Jack DeAngelis, PhD,  , email:  [email protected]

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