On the Brink: Dust Mites and the Bedding Apocalypse
What worked for years as a harmonious coexistence is now under critical threat: the relationship on this particular mattress between dust mites and humans is on the verge of collapse.
Since buying this mattress, the human hasn’t washed his sheets in over three months. That’s spawned a population of dust mites uncommonly high for a mattress, nicknaming it the “South Beach” of mite infestations.
The new population influx has been sustained by ideal conditions: the room stays at a mildly humid temperature, providing much needed moisture to sustain the mites; the human also sweats regularly during sleep and sheds a vast amount of dead skin, an abundant source of nourishment.
When mites feast on skin cells, they produce quite a large amount of excretion. Unlike other species, mites have not developed a way to dispose of their waste.
This has created one glaring problem: an alarming level of mite poo.
Residents are highly concerned about the effect their poo is having on the bed owner. In their feces is a substance called DerP1, a potent allergen. The fact that the human has woken up five straight mornings with a runny nose has the whole community on high alert.
“This way of life, just piling our waste everywhere thinking it’ll somehow vanish, it just isn’t sustainable,” says Morty, a recent transplant and former professor. “We have to acknowledge we are living with a real, breathing organism, one that is affected by our actions and, if we can’t clean up our act, will eventually dispose of us.”
Most agree with Morty, that the human’s allergic symptoms are a direct result of the mites’ high amount of waste. Others are not so convinced.
“Look, people sneeze.” This is Rick, a long tenured resident and father of 430 mites. “It’s a natural cycle. It doesn’t matter what we do. It’s the will of the human.”
Rick’s not totally off-base, as not all allergic symptoms can be traced back to the mite feces. DerP1 affects only around 20 million Americans; the rest are immune. It’s why hundreds of thousands of mites can live on someone’s eyelash, or pillow case, without the host noticing anything at all.
But once those symptoms become noticeable — sneezing, persistent sniffles, sinus headaches, scratchy eyes — then hosts can take action. This does not bode well for the mites.
For one, the community is still reeling from the last washing of the sheets, which displaced almost half of the 1.5 million dust mites that were living on the bed. Some see future catastrophes as not just probable, but imminent.
“I’ve seen it before: it starts with a washing, then it’s flipping the bed or drying the pillows,” says Morty. “At that point we aren’t talking displacement; we’re talking all-out extinction.”
“What the other mites don’t get here is that we need the human to survive, not the other way around.”
Time, many of them believe, is running out. Should allergy symptoms increase, the human may easily switch to a foam mattress, an act that would be absolutely devastating, or buy a mite-specific mattress cover.
“Mites think we still have all this time to change our ways, that’s the big lie,” says Morty. “He’s sneezing right now — the climax is immediate, on our doorsteps. It’s happening right now.”
There seems to be two options: change or find a new home. Either way, it isn’t good for the mites.
Disclaimer: this is a satirical piece and not intended to be published as news. Fortunately the relationship between dust mites and humans has never been better. This article was written by Harris Newman on behalf of Broadway Furniture.