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Did You Know? Bird Mites Can Bite People

By Chris Williams on May 2, 2011.

Did you know that there are mites that feed on birds and that will sometimes feed on people if there are no birds available?

Bird mites live on the bird or are found in the nest, sometimes in very large numbers, where they feed on the blood of nestlings. These mites prefer to feed on birds but if the birds die, or the nest is removed, or the birds leave the nest, the mites migrate looking for a new animal on which to feed. Bird mites are a problem inside homes only when the bird nest is located on or in the house and the mites are able to enter living spaces.

If the empty nest is close to people such as in a vent, under eaves, on floodlights, in gables or an attic, or on a window air conditioner unit, the mites can easily wander inside and bite. The mites are so tiny that screens won’t keep them out. Bird mites are a particular problem in homes in the spring when most baby birds are born and fledged, and after which the parent birds usually abandon the nest.
mite (2)Bird mites are barely visible to the naked eye. They’re usually not noticed unless you see a group of them moving together. They are usually yellowish-gray but mites that have recently fed on blood can be reddish or almost black. Bird mites can be easily confused with other tiny pests such as clover mites (which do not bite) or newly hatched ticks. It will take an expert to tell the difference.

It’s a big headstart if you know where the bird nest was located. Then it can be carefully removed and discarded before treatment of the area. If you’re going to remove the nest yourself, wear disposable gloves and long sleeves and discard the nest in a sealed plastic bag. More often though, you or a pest control professional, will have to conduct a search to find the source of the mites. Bird mites also infest gerbils so a pet gerbil can be another source.

Bird mite numbers can be reduced by thorough vacuuming or picking them up with a damp cloth. Be sure to discard the vacuum bag. Any affected bedding should be washed in hot water or dry cleaned. Have a professional pest control company like Colonial treat around the nest site to kill any remaining mites. Finally, it’s important to screen or block off the site on the house where the birds were nesting so that you don’t face a repeat occurrence.

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