A plush velvety carpet is a soothing luxury. It provides cushioned warmth on bare feet, and you even lie down on it, so do your babies, and your pets. Everyone in the home takes advantage of a comfortable carpet or floor rug; it is a necessity of life.
The other day, I took a walk with my family. One of our walkers was fairly new to the task of being a toddler. Her mother pointed out a fallen log with a sign that read ‘Bug Hotel’. She mentioned that her little one is learning about bug hotels and creepy crawlies at preschool. This reminded me of a documentary I once watched a very long time ago now.
Even after learning about the urban horror stories in the doco and fixating on and obsessing about the disgusting tales, eventually, I went back to life as normal. I mentally blocked out the disturbing imagery I wanted to unsee. What was the documentary about?
The unwanted guests of the underworld. No, not ghosts, sadly. Bugs! Bug hotels, or more likely Bed & Breakfasts, are operating in your home’s carpets without your knowledge or consent. It showed what lies in wait, lurking in hotel rooms too. So very gross!
Looking at the maximised photo of carpet fibres, there is nothing there to make you go ‘ew!’ Nothing that will make your skin crawl and a phantom itch plague your brain. In fact, it is kind of pretty at this particular maximisation.
So what does live in your carpets? Who are these unwanted guests you might not realise you are hosting? Look closer.
What do you think about that? Pretty nasty, right? This creature is the dust mite or carpet mite. It measures only a mere 1/4 mm It is interesting to know that dust mites are arachnids, a spider, not an insect. But they don’t just live in the carpet. They take up residence on all sorts of fibres: on the furniture, including beds, and in your children’s stuffed animals. Regularly cleaning those teddy bears is a must.
There is good news and bad news, mostly bad
The good news is that they don’t bite humans. They feed off of dead skin we shed, in the form of ‘dust’ and pet dander, etc. The bad news is that they can cause allergies to form or to be exacerbated.
Respiratory and skin allergies in the form of asthma and rash-like skin irritation. You might suffer symptoms in line with seasonal pollen-induced allergies, such as runny noses, sneezing, coughing, and sinus flare-ups. Your asthma symptoms might be aggravated.
But there is never only 1. Where there is 1, there is an infestation, an army. And this is only one type of guest staying with you at any time.
Carpet beetles and larvae
These last guests, actually pests, will shed their shell-like skin. If you see this around you know that you need to act quickly because you already have an infestation and these bugs are damaging because they eat your carpet and furnishings. They will even eat some of your clothing, especially if it has a food stain on it.
In order to beat these bad boys at their own game, you need to clean your house regularly to prevent a colossal takeover. They enter the home through open windows, doors,, any openings they can find, and incidentally, e.g. cut flowers from the garden, animals nesting in the loft/attic. They are looking for food.
Pets are much-loved members of the family, and they might live inside the home with your family instead of in a kennel outside. Either way, they will probably be in the house at some point throughout the day. They will be on the carpets too, which means their dander will get on the carpet. And so might fleas that sneakily hitch a ride on their fur to get inside. Pets cannot be totally blamed for this. Fleas are industrious and springy jumpers. They will get a lift from humans too.
The dangers of fleas, apart from the unbearable itch they cause when they bite you, as if that is not enough, the bites themselves can become infected through profuse scratching. They feed on the blood of animals and humans, so that’s gross. But they are also known to aggravate respiratory illnesses or complications to existing illnesses. They might cause skin irritations as well.
It is no picnic for your pet pals either. Make sure that you bathe them regularly, clean their bedding and de-flea with veterinary-prescribed flea medications regularly. Un the UK, fleas stick around all year long. And a female flea’s lifespan is approximately 2 years, in which time she can lay 1500 eggs in the right environment, so steady maintenance is imperative.
No, thank you. These are tricky wee pests because they can hide just about anywhere. They are not harmful to humans unless you think that multiple itchy bites are a problem for concern, which they are. Other than that, and the fact that they are a pain in the backside to be rid of, they do not cause other physical issues, unless you are allergic to them.
The spots of blood you might see on your bedsheets are not because they are sloppy diners. You have just managed to snuff out 1 or 2 in the middle of the night. They are sloppy houseguests though because you might also see brown spots. Yes, brown is a universal colour for poo.
Bed bugs are not discerning; any exposed flesh will do, even your face. Do not scratch, cover with makeup, etc. Bites need to be kept clean and untouched as much as possible to avoid infection.
These avid eaters are likely to relocate to your pantry or wherever there is a steady food source. Not letting your kids eat in their rooms might be a good rule after all (apologies to the parents). These mites, if given a chance, will also infest your pet food.
Of course, you will also find them feasting on any manner of grain, cereal, and bread. Tell-tale signs of this guest are a dusty residue that might have a minty smell.
The size of a pinhead, these lads might appear on your window sill, or you find it crawling on your forearm after having just been in the garden. They mostly feed on clover, grasses and plant life. They march up the side of the house like ants. They like the warmth, so you will find them on the sunny side of your home.
The good news is that they do not bite humans or animals or cause other issues like structural damage to your home or furniture. Clover mites are simply a pest that can be stubborn to get rid of. They fit into almost any opening, so if they are around, you will eventually see them visiting.
They will, however, leave a red stain from their skin pigmentation if you think smearing their marching band with one swipe of the cleaning cloth is a good plan. It is not.
In the end
Proper storage of food, animal furs or fibres, keeping tidy living areas, and astringent cleaning schedule will deter the stayers-on. Cleaning your bedding, upholstery, drapes and carpets is essential.
There is a mite for practically any substance, e.g. cheese mite, flour mite, mould mite, vegemite (no, that’s wrong). Be aware that this list of home ‘bugs’ is not conclusive, but it may give you an idea of what your Bed & Breakfast is lodging habitually. Don’t be taken advantage of anymore. Send your house pests packing, bags and all, unless it is your children you are thinking of. You are obligated to keep them in your home.