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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/White dust crawling - are they mold mites?

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White dust crawling on a black shirt
White dust crawling on  
Hi,
Living in a west suburb of Athens Greece, we had a leak in the storage compartment above the bathroom, that made wet a lot of carbon boxes we used to store christmas and other decorative items. After a month, we found on a black shirt inside the bathroom hundreds of white tiny bugs crawling. We wouldn't  have noticed them if they wouldn't move around, as they are very small, just like dust (you can't see by naked eye any legs or feelers etc). Freaking out, we searched and found them also in other rooms in the house. But we believe the source was in the compartment above the bathroom, as the carbon boxes were full of them).
We googled and they seem to be mold mites. They don't fly, just crawl (of course they are so tiny and light that maybe they spread even by air). They say that they don't bite or harm humans (except the danger of allergies and asthma if you have them in large  quantities). But you know, nobody can live with them and don't freak out . We got rid of all the carbon boxes, we put all the staff inside open plastic bags and left them on the balcony, out in the freeing cold for many days. We cleaned every single spot of the house with bleach (Chlorine). Especially the compartment above the bathroom, we sprayed floor and walls with special anti-mold product, then we rubbed all surfaces, painted when it was dry,  even sprayed with Baygon (cockroach, ant and other insect killing product). Now we still see (very fewer than before) some mites here and there, but we believe they are dead as they don't move. We bought plastic (and not carbon) boxes to put again the decorative staff in the same compartment, but we are afraid to do it now, as we have no idea if there are eggs that they grow new mites, or if they are "playing" dead and soon they multiply again.
Do you have any kind of comment or advise? Do you know how long is the cycle of life of these mold mites (if we identified them correctly) and if now it's safe to put back the staff in the compartment? Any help would be appreciated so much!

Answer
Kelly,

These do look like mold mites (also called grain mites), see http://www.livingwithbugs.com/mold_mites.html for info about identifying these mites. The only thing you really need do is reduce moisture, once the area is relatively dry the mites will go away. On the other hand if the area remains damp and moldy no amount of treating will eliminate them. So, my advice would be to concentrate on reducing moisture and increasing air flow if possible rather than insecticides or cleaning.

Jack DeAngelis

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Jack DeAngelis

Expertise

I can answer questions in any area of entomology (study of insects, spiders, mites, ticks, and other terrestrial arthropods). Contact me about home and garden insects, insects that bite and sting, and insects that damage homes such as carpenter ants and termites.

Experience

20 years as university extension entomologist, now retired; currently publish a website about home and garden insects.

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see www.livingwithbugs.com/resume.html

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Ph.D. in Entomology

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