3d animated medical illustration of a dust mite
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The house dust mite (sometimes abbreviated by allergists to HDM), is a cosmopolitan guest in human habitation. Dust mites feed on organic detritus such as flakes of shed human skin and flourish in the stable environment of dwellings. In nature they are killed by micro-predators and by exposure to direct sun rays. Dust mites are the most common cause of asthma and allergic symptoms worldwide. The enzymes they produce can be smelled most strongly in full vacuum cleaner bags. The European house dust mite (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus) and the American house dust mite (Dermatophagoides farinae) are two different species, but are not necessarily confined to Europe or North America.
A magnifying glass, as well as a proper viewing environment, is required to view the body of a dust mite . A typical house dust mite measures 420 µm in length (almost 0.5 mm) and 250 to 320 µm in width. Both male and female adult house dust mites are creamy white and are shaped in a globular manner. The body of the dust mite also contains a striated cuticle. As a member of the class Arachnida, larval and post-larval stages of house dust mites have eight legs. Dust mites can be transported airborne by minor air currents generated from normal household activities.
The average life cycle for a male dust mite is 20 to 30 days, while a mated female dust mite can live for 10 weeks, laying 60 to 100 eggs in the last 5 weeks of her life. In a 10 week life span, a dust mite will produce approximately 2000 fecal particles and an even larger number of partially digested enzyme-infested dust particles. [1A simple washing will remove most of the waste matter. Both being exposed to temperatures of over 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit) for a period of one hour, or freezing, will typically prove fatal to dust mites; a relative humidity less than 50 may also be fatal. Dust mites reproduce quickly enough that their effect on human health can be significant.
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