With the return of the rainy season comes new life, flowers–and bugs.
Dani （ダニ, 壁蝨）, usually called tatami bugs in English, are mites that can live in your tatami mats. Their bites are small, red, and itchy and always come in pairs since the dani bite twice in a row. Most people get these bites on skin exposed while sleeping—frequently around the ankles, wrists, elbows, and neck, although that does really depend on your pajama preferences. This article will cover dani prevention.
防虫 (bouchuu): bug repellent
虫除け (mushiyoke): insecticide
ダニ (dani): tatami bugs (mites)
Part 1: How do you prevent dani?
1. Keep your tatami clean.
Wipe up any crumbs or spills immediately.
Once a week
Vacuum, use a dust buster, or wipe the mats down with a clean Swiffer/duster cloth to get rid of dust.
After dusting, wipe the mats down with anti-dani cleaner and a paper towel or dust rag. There are the regular commercial brands, like the spray 畳用クリーナー (tatami you kuriinaa; cleaner for tatami) or organic brands like Tomato Power for this (see below). Also, there are tatami wipes you can attach to a Swiffer called たたみ用ウェットシート (tatami you wetto shiito; wet wipes for tatami).
Every 6-8 weeks
Use the anti-dani bug spray ダニアース (dani-aasu).
The bug-spray comes with a needle that inserts into the tatami. Insert the needle into 6 places in each individual mat and spray for 15-20 seconds. This product is available in the bug prevention (mushi-yoke, 虫除け) section of your drug store or home-goods store. It costs about 1000 yen but will last you a while (and all the yen you’d spend at the Laundromat washing everything you own).
Spray your bedding, clothes and furniture with an anti-dani spray that is safe for clothes, etc. Do not mix this up with your tatami spray (although you can use the clothes/furniture spray for the tatami as well, you can’t use the tatami-only spray for other items.)
The clothing-safe sprays usually have pictures of teddy bears, couches, and clothes on them. There are several types and brands, including ダニアース防ダニスプレーハーブ (dani aasu bou dani supurei haabu), or dani-prevention spray with herbs; and ダニよけトマトパワー (dani yoke tomato pawaa), a tomato-based spray.
The organic, bedding-friendly type runs about 600-800 yen and can be found at your drug store.
2. Keep your futons fresh
Dani love to live in warm, moist places like your futon and the tatami underneath it. In the warmer, sunnier months, strip the sheets and padding off your futons and hang them outside to bake in the sun on warm days. Heat kills dani. In addition, wash your sheets and blankets regularly.
In winter and when the weather is bad, you can use an electric blanket (denki moufu, 電気毛布) that has a “kill-dani” setting on your futons, mattress pad, and blankets.
In this picture, the kill-dani setting is called ダニアウト (dani auto – dani out!) and has a picture of a dead mite on it. Look for similar pictures and phrases when shopping for an electric blanket.
3. Use anti-dani bug repellents.
You can buy dani repellent “air fresheners” for your closets and tatami rooms. These usually use herb oils or charcoal and come in 30-day (30日) and 60-day (60日) sizes.
Next time: Got dani? How to safely bug-bomb your home.
Here’s to a safe and bite-free spring and summer!
Leah Zoller is a first-year CIR in Anamizu and has declared war on tatami bugs.