Mold Mites: The Tiny, Computer-Loving Bugs

The term ‘mold mites’ refers to a wide range of very tiny arthropod species that feed on mold.

They are dependent on the moisture and high humidity that allows their favorite snack to grow, so they are most common in tropical and subtropical climates.

Mold mites usually cause problems by invading and contaminating food stores, though, in cases of heavy infestation, they may eventually find their way inside your electronic devices, too.

Why do mold mites infest computers?

Mold mites are more likely to infest your laptop in some parts of the world than others. This is down to their environmental preference which is, basically, warm and moist.

If you live in a hot, dry climate, the air humidity levels inside your laptop probably won’t be high enough for the mites to survive. You may see the odd mite wandering over your keys, but you’re unlikely to find yourself up against an infestation.

But, if you live in a tropical or subtropical region, that high humidity may make it possible for mold mites to live inside your computer. If this is the case, you will need to take extra precautionary measures to stop this from happening.

Mold mites also need a nearby food source, so those in the habit of using their laptop as a sort of fancy crumb-tray are also at greater risk of mold mite invasions.

Will mold mites damage my laptop?

The odd mold mite or two probably won’t cause any lasting harm to your laptop or computer.

However, if you allow the infestation to become established and grow, you may find that large numbers of mold mites (along with their debris) begin to accumulate under the keys.

This can make typing and performing keyboard commands more difficult. It may even render some keys completely useless if the bugs show a preference for hanging out beneath specific areas of your keyboard.

How can you tell if you have mold mites on your computer?

If you think your laptop may have mites, you will first need to thoroughly inspect your device for evidence.

This usually comes in two forms:

Biomass

This brown or gray dust is made up of mold mite debris and often indicates a heavy infestation.

The biomass contains everything the mold mites cast off as they move through their various life stages, including skin casks, dead bugs, droppings, food scraps, and even more live bugs.

A build-up of the grey-brown dust around your keyboard, monitor, and in other nearby locations is a sure sign there are mold mites nearby.

Akshay M/Unsplash.com

Live or dead bugs

If you see critters running in and out of your USB port or making their way across the inside of your monitor, your computer definitely has a bug.

There’s a parade of mold mites making their way across my apartment! What does it mean?

The sight of thousands of mold mites moving en masse through part of your home is a solid indicator of a severe infestation.

Mold mites go out on the march when their living quarters have become unfavorable (usually due to a change in environmental conditions, such as scarcity of food or overcrowding). When this happens, they are scouting out locations for a new, more suitable nesting site, and giving up their original hiding place in the process!

How can you get rid of mold mites in a computer?

De-bugging a computer can be a delicate operation, as most devices are susceptible to heat and water damage. However, it’s not impossible!

Try the following steps to rid your laptop of mold mites:

Remove the food source

Inspect your pantry for signs of mold mite infestation. These bugs need food and will often nest inside stored food.

If you find any items with holes in the packaging and mites inside, dispose of them immediately in a sealed container in the outside trash. This will eliminate a large number of bugs straight away.

Limit humidity

Mold mites like warmth and humidity, so you can make your laptop less appealing to them by addressing this.

Store your devices in a cool, dry place whenever possible, and consider setting up a dehumidifier in rooms where you use your laptop and other devices the most.

Blast-em out

Once you’ve reduced the temperature and humidity around your laptop, you may still need to remove mite debris, (including live and dead bugs) from within.

Buy a canister of pressurized air and open up the laptop (if possible) to blow away any bits still inside.

How can you prevent mold mites from returning?

Keep your laptop stored in a cool, dry place

Mold mites feed on mold and are big fans of the warm, moist conditions that allow their favorite foodstuff to thrive. Finding ways to reduce ambient temperature and humidity levels (i.e. by using a dehumidifier) can help to male your home less attractive to mold mites in general and will help to reduce any risk of further infestations.

Find and remove contaminated food sources

Mold mites will set up home anywhere, as long as it is warm and moist enough for them, and they have abundant food stores. If you experience a mass migration of mold mites at home, this is the perfect opportunity to work out where they’re coming from. Simply follow the trail of bugs and throw away whichever food packaging they’re pouring out of, before going on to inspect the others for signs of infestation.

Store food securely

Any food that has escaped contamination should be carefully stored in airtight containers or in the refrigerator to avoid attracting more pests.

CSU-Extension/Pixabay.com

If you’re the type to snack over your keyboard while eyeballs-deep in your latest Netflix-binge, keep an eye on those crumbs! Tiny food particles can easily trickle down into the innards on your device, where it’s only a matter of time before they attract the attention of hungry bugs.

Clean your laptop

Take a quick peek at the cracks and crevices between your keys and around the edge of your monitor. It may be high time to scoop out some of the dust, crumbs, and grime.

Keep in mind!

A grubby computer can be a major attractant to a wide array of pests (mold mites included!) so cleaning up is an important part of pest control.

Try using a Q-tip dipped in alcohol to get at those hard-to-reach areas and don’t stop until every trace of grime is gone.

It’s worth giving your device a quick clean at least once a week to keep your risk of further infestations low.

Are there any other types of bug that commonly infest computers and other electronic devices?

Many of the bugs that infest laptops and other electronic devices are very small and can be easy to miss.

Some of the most common computer pests include:

Conclusion

Mold mites are occasional laptop and computer pests, though they can only survive in warm, moist conditions.

Store your devices in a cool, dry place as often as possible to make them less attractive to pests, and keep an eye out for signs that may indicate the presence of mites! These may include droppings, skin casks, egg casings, or live or dead bugs in and around your laptop. Biomass (a brown/gray dusty substance) is also a key indicator of mold mites and will build up anywhere the arthropods are nearby.

1 Comments

Kathleen

This was very helpful. My son, an Internet Specialist who works from home discovered many mores in many electronics, and we face a big job in rectifying it. Thank you.

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