Perceived pest problems

AS WE use warm clothes, extra blankets and heaters during winter, local pest experts are warning residents to be wary of a unique pest problem.

Amalgamated Pest Control Gympie owner-operator Garry Pratt said efforts to keep warm could create skin irritations or itches, repeatedly blamed on the presence of microscopic pests which were not actually there.

“Fibres from clothes we don’t wear regularly, static electricity or the circulation of non-organic fibres through ventilation systems or heaters can often cause skin irritations and rashes.

“It is not uncommon for people to report the feeling of bugs or mites biting or crawling on the skin as the cause of the itch or irritation,” Mr Pratt said.

The majority of investigations into these cases conducted by pest management technicians reveal there are no pests present. A physiological condition called delusionary parasitosis is often the root of the perceived pest problem.

“While in most cases the pests are perceived, there are several microscopic pests that are capable of causing itches or skin irritations,” Mr Pratt said.

“The common culprits are paper lice, dust mites, psocids or booklice, which can be reintroduced to the home or office in archived documents and stored products.

“Cases of perceived pests are often spread by word of mouth.

Someone may have seen or read an article about pests and suddenly feel itchy.

“They mention it to someone else, who in turn convinces themself they are itchy and this process can continue until everyone in the premises is convinced invisible pests are to blame.”

These cases of perceived pests are extremely challenging for the pest control industry.

“We have to make sure we correctly identify each pest to ensure the correct treatment. Each pest requires a different treatment. We don’t want to spray pesticides unnecessarily as this can exacerbate perceived pest problems.

“A pesticide will obviously be ineffective against allergens and skin irritations from fibres on clothing and alternative treatments will be required.”

For information contact Amalgamated Pest Control on 13 19 61 or visit

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