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Pest Information

Cheese Mites

  • Latin Name: Tyrophagus sp.
  • Common Name: Cheese Mites
  • Other Names: N/A

Pest Details

Origin:

The mite is found throughout the world and its origin is uncertain.

Biology:

While this cosmopolitan mite is an important pest problem in stored foods such as flour, cereal products, dried fruit and dried meats, and even in mattresses and stuffed furniture, it also is used deliberately to impart a distinctive flavor to certain cheeses. During the production of the cheese the mites are introduced to it and eventually will completely cover the cheese with mites, their molted exoskeletons, and their feces, providing what is described as a certain “piquant” flavor. Their presence in numbers like these gives the food the appearance of having a thick layer of dust on it.

Identification:

Adult mites are only one third of a millimeter long and grayish white with pink legs. The body is oval and at the front appears pinched, with the mouthparts protruding forward from this. Under high magnification the body can be seen to have dozens of long, thin hairs sticking out of it. When large numbers are found in cabinets they often will be massed together in large clumps, and a close look reveals the movement of all the mites as they crawl over one another.

Characteristicts Important to Control:

Control where the mites are unwanted relies heavily on sanitation. Rooms where cheese is stored must be emptied periodically and thoroughly sanitized or washed with scalding water. Older cheeses should be rotated out of stock. Floors, walls, and storage shelving must be washed to kill or remove mites. Temperature in the storage room should be kept below 40 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce mite activity and breeding.

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