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Differences Between Mites vs. Ticks

What Do Mites Look Like?

Adult mites are reddish brown to a dark green-brown color, depending on what they are feeding on. They are eight-legged, but it is their front pair of legs that make them distinctive. The front legs are about twice the length of the others and are extended forward near the head. Their size varies by species, but most mites are usually invisible to the naked eye. You can only see them under a microscope, and even then, they look like small spider-like creatures. Mites have many long body hairs and do not have wings.

Types of Mites

“Mite” is a term commonly used to refer to a group of insect-like organisms, some of which bite or cause irritation to humans. While some mites feed on animals, including humans, others are scavengers, some feed on plants, and many prey on insects. There are nearly as many different types of mites as there are insects. Mites pass through four stages of development: egg, larva, nymph, and adult.

Many kinds of mites never or rarely impact humans, but some can be harmful to humans. While mites seldom transmit disease to humans in the United States, they can be harmful when they enter homes in large numbers and can inflict severe skin irritation. The most encountered mites, including those that can cause problems to humans, animal, and plant health are:

What do ticks look like?

Ticks are slightly larger than mites and are generally between 3-29 mm long. Their front legs are also longer than their other legs. Most tick larvae are the size of a grain of sand; nymphs are roughly the size of a poppy seed and unfed adults are the size of an apple seed or a pencil eraser. They do not have wings and are flat and oval in appearance until they have had a blood meal, which makes them look like a small bean or a pea.

Types of Ticks

There are two groups of ticks, sometimes called “hard” ticks and “soft” ticks. Hard ticks have a hard shield just behind the mouthparts, sometimes incorrectly called their head. Unfed hard ticks are shaped like a flat seed. Soft ticks do not have the hard shield and as adults, are shaped like a large raisin. Soft ticks prefer to feed on birds or bats and are seldom encountered unless these animals are nesting or roosting in an occupied building.

How Do Mites and Ticks Get Inside

If you find ticks and mites in your home, they are probably entering your space from pets, rodents, people, or infested outdoor gear and items such as infested backpacks and outdoor clothing. Inspect these items thoroughly and if possible, launder them before storing them inside the house or garage.

Mite vs. Tick Bites

Mite bites cause intense itching and many small, red bumps. Burrows may also be seen that look like thin, wavy lines. The mite species that bites humans also produces dermatitis, often followed by allergic reactions. Mites are so small that you likely need a microscope to see them. Bites from mites may cause an almost overpowering urge to scratch the skin.

A tick bite begins as a small bump that appears at the site of the bite and may later develop into a rash. A bulls-eye rash may appear 13-14 days after the tick bite, but it can look different depending on the type of tick. The most obvious way to tell if it is a tick bite is to see if the tick itself is still attached to your skin. People may develop an allergic reaction to a tick bite which may lead to more significant swelling, redness, skin rash, itchiness, and other symptoms.

How to Get Rid of Mites

All mites are tiny creatures, some so small they can be seen only with magnification. Ticks are much easier to see and may be seen on clothing or embedded in your skin.

Steam cleaning or washing items in hot water is a surefire way to kill and eliminate mites. You can use a steam cleaner to heat treat your carpeting, furniture, and bedding.

Seek medical attention when exposure to mites is suspected as the cause of skin irritation. For instance, scabies infestations will likely require medication. In addition, the bedding and clothing of scabies-infected people should be washed regularly.

Pesticides labeled for use against mites, known as miticides or acaricides, can be effective against clover mites and chiggers in grassy areas. For chiggers, insect repellents containing 7 percent to 30 percent “DEET” should be used as the first line of defense. To dislodge any chiggers that may have been attached, take a hot, soapy bath or shower immediately after visiting areas where chiggers are present.

How to Get Rid of Ticks

Use insect repellent and wear protective clothing to help keep ticks and mites off and to discourage them from biting your skin. Your Orkin Pro can help you identify ways to remove potential tick habitats around your home.

The best step in determining whether you have a mite or tick infestation is to schedule an appointment with an Orkin for a comprehensive inspection and pest treatment plan.

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