While many commons pests found on the Maltese islands are in some form of hibernation right now, a usually mild seasonal problem has been on the increase in recent months.
Wall or mould mites (puċpieċ) are tiny whitish to yellow invertebrate organisms who get their Maltese name from the fact that you have to strain your eyes to see them. While they’ve always been a nuisance in Malta, more and more families across Malta have been noticing mites in their home as they spend more than inside than ever.
“Mites are a problem that has been here for ages, but it has increased a lot and become more noticeable since people are stuck at home in quarantine,” biologist and pest controller Arnold Sciberras told Lovin Malta.
Instead of the usual calls over mite infestations, he’s been inundated with appointments to sort out the tiny pest.
“This generally mild seasonal problem has become the centre of my attention since many at the moment are suffering from this situation,” he continued.
Describing mites as an “interesting and mysterious nuisance”, Sciberras noted that there are possibly three to four species found locally. In Malta, they can often also be called brija ta’ l-għamara and għabra timxi.
Due to their particular colouring, mites are usually first noticed on dark surfaces, especially on items like black or brown household appliances.
It’s important to note that even though they are technically arachnids, they live off mould spores, which means they need a source of constant humidity and moisture to survive.
While they don’t pose a threat to people – they literally don’t bite – it’s important to rid your home of them before an infestation is found. While they can’t hurt you, they can cause allergies to spike due to their long hairs falling off and become airborne.
Next thing you know, you’re sneezing and coughing due to all these long hairs entering your throat and airways – and literally no one wants that.
Photo credit: Gilles San Martin