Your pets aren’t the only ones that like to chow down on that dry kibble.
So do tiny microscopic bugs called grain mites.
These pests thrive in hot summer months and in high humidity, able to lay hundreds of eggs on one dry nugget. Store your pets’ food carefully and monitor your supply, or grain mites could be having dinner at your house.
So far this month, there have been at least two reports of consumers finding mites in Beneful dry dog food, made by Purina; one in Newport News, VA and one reported through a syndicated pet column in the Washington Post. In both cases, the pet parents discovered a weird dust proliferating in the places where they kept their dogs’ food – and one day noticed the dust was moving. It actually was the residue left behind by hungry grain mites.
A Tallahassee television station also carried a story this week about a family finding grain mites in a Purina product. Although the station didn't report the brand, watch the video and you'll see a Beneful bag being tossed in trash.
Purina spokesman Keith Schopp said the manufacturing process would kill any mites in raw ingredients, but that an infestation could occur after the products left the plant or in the customers’ homes. He did not know if the affected customers all bought the same Beneful flavor or if the products were made in the same facility.
The company has not recalled any Beneful food but “we take this very seriously when we hear from a customer,” Schopp said. Vicki Lemay, the Newport News customer, said Purina offered to cover her extermination expenses.
Veterinarians said grain mites should not cause serious illnesses if eaten, but that pets might have an allergic reaction that could include itching, and intestinal and skin problems.
How can you control grain mites?
* Store pet foods in airtight containers. Don’t store food in garages, sheds or basements.
* Immediately throw bags away outside after the food has been put into a container.
* Don’t buy or use old or outdated food.
* Wash food dishes frequently in hot water and dry thoroughly.
* Buy only 30 days worth of food at a time.
* Don’t purchase food in bags with holes or tears.
* Avoid low quality food with a lot of debris in the bottom of the bag.
* Periodically check food and the area around where the food is stored for signs of mites: a recurring brown dust.
Here is a good fact sheet from the University of Nebraska's extension service on food storage mites, including grain mites, and how to clean up after them.