All About Bird Mites

All About Bird Mites (AABM) is a term used to refer to several species of microscopic insects commonly found in birds. They are usually not harmful but they may cause problems if they get into the body or other places where they can breed. AABM are small enough to pass through the skin without being seen so it’s very common for them to enter your home via cracks and crevices.

Bird Mites Symptoms:

The most common symptom of AABM is a red rash that appears around the affected area. Sometimes it looks like a spider bite, which can be quite painful. Other times, the rash is more generalized and spreads over the whole body. The rash tends to get worse with exposure to sunlight or heat and often starts out white then turns black within days or weeks depending on how many eggs were laid in your house. Some people have no reaction at all.

What Causes Bird Mites?

Bird mites are caused by two different types of bugs, the bloodsuckers and egg laying type. Both types feed on dead or dying animals such as lice, ticks, fleas and even birds. The bloodsucker type feeds on human blood while the egg-laying type lays their eggs inside birds’ nests. These two types of mites can also be spread by humans coming in contact with infected birds, their nests or their droppings.

How to Get Rid of a Bird Mite Infestation

First you should wear gloves and a protective suit when cleaning up bird nests or droppings. Afterward, you should throw out all contaminated clothing, bedding and soft toys. Then you should vacuum the carpet and sofa using the upholstery attachment. You may also need to steam clean or shampoo the carpet after vacuuming.

Next, wash all personal items such as clothes and bedding in very hot water and dry them in the sun if possible. If not, you should at least cook them at a minimum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour.

Finally, get rid of all birds and their nests in and around your home.

How to Prevent a Bird Mite Infestation

To prevent a bird mite infestation, you should regularly clear away dead and dying trees and plant new grass in your yard. Also, clean up all nests in the attic, shed, around the house and anywhere else they may have taken up residence.

All About Bird Mites

Bird mites are tiny, spider like creatures that can live on humans. They are too small to be seen without the aid of a microscope and they don’t fly or jump, but they can race across floors and climb up walls at lightning speed. They feed on your blood at night while you sleep and leave small itchy red bumps on your skin in the morning. They are also known as red spiders or harvest mites.

Types of Bird Mites

There are several different types of bird mites, but only two that commonly infect humans. The Northern Fowl Mite (Ornithonyssus sylviarum) is the most common and it lives in wild and domestic bird nests, especially those of pigeons, crows and starlings. The eggs are laid on the ground, in cracks and under leaves where they hatch and burrow into bird’s feathers to feed on their blood. They can also burrow into human skin and feed on our blood. The Northern Fowl mite is reddish-brown and can be seen with the naked eye.

The other type is the Scaly Leg Mite (Knemidocoptes pilae) which is much smaller and lives in the scales of a bird’s legs, hence its name. They are not usually found on wild birds, but on birds that are caged or tied such as chickens, pigeons and pet birds. Humans can pick up this mite from handling infected birds or by sleeping on feather pillows. They are white or yellow in color and cannot be seen with the naked eye.

How Do You Get Bird Mites?

You can get bird mites by coming into direct contact with infected birds, their nests or their droppings. You can also get them by handling infested clothing and soft toys that have been in a bird’s nest or by sleeping on a bed that has previously been occupied by a bird. They can also be spread by sharing clothing or bedding with an infested person.

Symptoms of a Bird Mite Infestation

The symptoms of a bird mite infestation include small red bumps in a linear pattern, which itch intensely when you wake up in the morning. If you look closely, you may also see tiny red spots in your bed where the mites have been feeding on your blood all night.

Diagnosing a Bird Mite Infestation

It is fairly easy to diagnose a bird mite infestation. If you see small red bumps on your skin after you wake up in the morning, you should consult a physician to rule out more serious skin conditions. Your doctor may also press a sharp object like a pen against the bump to see if it disappears or not. If it doesn’t disappear, you don’t have a mite infestation. If it disappears, you can be certain that you are infested with bird mites.

Treating a Bird Mite Infestation

A bird mite infestation can only be treated by eliminating their food source which is your blood. Until this is done, no medication or lotion is effective. Your doctor may recommend that you take a strong steroid cream, corticosteroid pills or anti-histamine pills to reduce the itching and swelling caused by the mites. You should also avoid using blankets and pillows while you are being treated.

Sufferers of bird mite infestations are also advised to wash all clothing, bedding and soft toys on high heat to kill any mites and their eggs. All bedding should be dried in the sun and vacuumed thoroughly to remove any mites that may have emerged from their life cycle.

Once you have completed these steps, you can begin treating your infestation. A lot of people try over the counter lotions and creams to get rid of their mites, but these are ineffective because it is impossible to completely cover your entire body with these ointments when you are sleeping. The only treatment that works is bathing in hot water. This is because mites are unable to survive in high temperatures. It is very important that you soak all of your clothing in hot water and wear nothing but new clothing after your bath.

It is also important that you use a blow dryer on high heat to kill any mites that may be hiding in your clothing, towels or bedding. Continue this process for at least 1 month or until all signs of mite activity have ceased.

More Advanced Treatments

Some people claim that using a home made remedy of baby shampoo, water and tea tree oil will repel mites. To do this, mix one part tea tree oil with nine parts water and add several drops of the mixture to your bath water. You should also add a cap full of the mixture to your laundry when washing your bedding and towels. Do not apply lotions or oils to your skin while using this remedy as they may nullify its effects.

Some sufferers have claimed that consuming large amounts of garlic or applicating garlic juice to your skin helps repel mites. A popular method is to spread garlic juice on your bed sheets. Garlic has natural insect repelling properties, so it is worth a try, although there is no scientific evidence that it works.

Sources & references used in this article:

Laboratory observations on three species of bird mites by RK Sikes, RW Chamberlain – The Journal of Parasitology, 1954 – JSTOR

Laboratory rearing methods for three common species of bird mites by RW Chamberlain, RK Sikes – The Journal of parasitology, 1950 – JSTOR

Laboratory Investigations on the Role of Bird Mites in the Transmission of Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis1 by RW Chamberlain, RK Sikes – The American Journal of Tropical Medicine …, 1955 – ASTMH

Recovery of western equine encephalomyelitis virus from wild bird mites (Liponyssus sylviarum) in Kern County, California. by WC Reeves, WMD Hammon, DP Furman… – Science …, 1947 – cabdirect.org

Human infestation with bird mites in Wollongong by CR Watson – Communicable diseases intelligence …, 2003 – search.informit.com.au