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Crying Fowl: Get Rid of Bird Mites at Home

What are bird mites? How do you kill bird mites? Let's dive into the subject and learn a little more about these nasty spring and summer arachnids.

Maybe you've heard of dust mites, spider mites and other mite species, but you'd be surprised to learn that mites from birds are quite common in yards and homes across the country. They're also referred to as chicken mites and pigeon mites since a lot of these creepy-crawlies come from chickens and pigeons in people's yards.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some people ask if mites are insects. No, they sure aren't. Mites are arachnids and belong to the spider family. Mites on birds suck blood just as ticks and fleas do. If they make their way into your home, you're their next host.

How Did I Get Pigeon Mites?

A picture of an empty bird nest

An empty bird nest can cause a bird mite infestation.

Bird mite infestations are often caused by birds nesting around your house. If you live in the city, these mites will move into your home from pigeons and other birds. Pigeons are quite a nuisance in cities and not only cause a mess with their feces but also by building their nests in eaves and gutters.

Other birds such as sparrows and chimney swifts also build nests in areas around houses. The closer these birds get to your home, the easier it is for you to get mites. They fall and climb off the birds and move their way into cracks and crevices, eventually finding themselves inside your house.

Mites can live for weeks without a blood meal. They have plenty of time to move from the outside to the interior of your home. Once they get on the couches, in the carpet and around other areas, you're more likely to start seeing them on you or at least seeing their bite marks on your skin.

What do Bird Mites Look Like?

A picture of a red bird mite

A red bird mite shown up close. (Daktaridudu Wikimedia)

You may see mature bird mites on your skin because they constantly move around. They're small, however, and many people can't see them without some type of magnifying glass. They only grow to .5 millimeters in length as mature adults, and the young are even smaller. So you might not be able to see them unless you have really good eyesight and they're moving around a lot.

Many of the mites on birds are red in color, giving them the name "red mites". Some mite species are black and larger than the red mites, which often invade bird cages indoors and feed on cockatiels and other pet birds.

They will also crawl on people and bite them; however, the immature mites rarely bite through the skin. They crawl over the skin and invade your ears and other orifices. Mature adults require blood and cause bite marks on skin. Like bed bugs, bird mites are most active at night, so you might not notice movement or bites until the next day.

How to Identify Bird Mite Bites

A picture of bird mite bites on a leg.

Red bird mite bites on a person's leg. (Birdmites.org)

Single bird mite bites will appear red and look similar to flea bites. You might even mistake them for bed bug bites. The bite area will swell and spread depending on the person's reaction to the bite. Severe bird mite infestations will cause more bites, which can appear anywhere on your body. You may find bite marks on your arms and legs or even around your mouth and ears.

Parasitic mites like dermanyssus, or the red mite, doesn't care if it gets blood from birds or humans or any other living thing. If you notice more itching during the day or night but see nothing on you, it could be a sign of mites. The younger ones are harder to see and quite active. The mature mites will bite more during the night, causing you to wake up if you're getting attacked by dozens at once.

How to Get Rid of Bird Mites

A picture of a vacuum on a rug

Vacuuming can help get rid of mites and other pests in the carpet.

If you feel you're getting bit at night, turning on a ceiling or floor fan can make the mites less active. Turning on a dehumidifier and an air conditioner also helps to keep these pests off you because they prefer warmer, more humid climates. There are other ways to get rid of mites in your home once you've properly identified the pest.

The Ultimate DIY Bird Mite Control

  • INSPECTION: Find the source of the mite infestation. Look for bird nests around your home, such as in planter boxes, eaves, gutters or overhanging branches that touch the roof or walls. Check for dead birds near the foundation or live birds in the chimney. Take action quickly to remove empty nests and dead birds if you find them. If you see live birds or nests with eggs, check with your local wildlife authorities on the best practices for removing the birds.
  • REMOVAL: When mites are in your home, it's time to vacuum more frequently than usual. You'll need to vacuum every room thoroughly, making sure to vacuum each carpet and rug in the house. Once you've vacuumed, remove the bag and dispose of it in an outdoor bin. You can also put the bag in the freezer to kill the mites. Also wash every bedding, clothing and other fabric item in the house. Do this step several times each week.
  • INSECTICIDES: For severe infestations or to prevent one, select an insecticide that is labeled for bird mites. Some will come in spray form, others in dusts. It's important to choose the correct one for your level of mite infestation:
    • Steri-Fab – This liquid insecticide is labeled for mites and also works as a sterilizer, killing bacteria and viruses. It's used as a spray and works on furniture and other areas where the mites may be hiding.
    • CimeXa Dust – This insecticidal dust works for months and is best applied in areas where the mites are hiding, such as around cracks and crevices. You can also apply a thin layer of the dust on carpets and rugs to kill the mites. Consider combining this product with diatomaceous earth for total mite control.
    • Onslaught – This insecticide spray is effective on various blood-sucking pests such as mites, bed bugs, mosquitoes and ticks. Use a broadcast sprayer to apply a fine mist to cracks, rugs, baseboards and other areas where you think the mites are hiding.

Pedchem: Total Bird Mite Control

Whether you're a professional exterminator or a DIYer looking to get rid of bird mites in your home, Pedchem has the products to do the job right the first time. If you've treated the problem and still find bite marks on your skin, check with your doctor to rule out other possible pests such as chiggers, fleas and scabies.

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