Water balance and humidity requirements of house dust mites

Exp Appl Acarol. 1992 Nov;16(1-2):15-35. doi: 10.1007/BF01201490.


The house dust mites, Dermatophagoides farinae, D. pteronyssinus and Euroglyphus maynei, are prevalent in homes in humid geographical areas throughout the world. These mites thrive in humid environments in human dwellings where there is no liquid water to drink. However, their bodies contain 70-75% water by weight, which must be maintained in order to reproduce. Their primary source of water is water vapor which is actively extracted from unsaturated air. At relative humidities above 65-70%, adequate amounts of water can be extracted from unsaturated air to compensate for that lost by all avenues. Active uptake is associated with ingestion of a hyperosmotic solution which is secreted by the supracoxal glands. Active mites do not survive longer than 6-11 days at RHs < or = 50%. They survive extended dry periods by forming a desiccation-resistant protonymphal stage which can survive for months at RHs below the critical humidity for active stages. Feeding rate and allergen production is directly influenced by RH. Mites feed, multiply, and produce more fecal matter at higher RHs than at lower ones.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Water / metabolism*
  • Eating
  • Female
  • Housing
  • Humidity*
  • Male
  • Mites / growth & development
  • Mites / physiology*
  • Temperature
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance*