Bird Mites – The Facts
What does a bird mite look like?
Bird mites are tiny, flat-bodied parasites. Bird mites can vary in length, but most species are less than half a millimetre long and are usually small enough to be barely visible. They are much easier to see when they move. The mites are a translucent white colour that changes to a browny red after a blood meal. The eggs of the mites are too small to see without magnification.
How quickly do bird mites multiply?
Bird mites have a very short development cycle of around one to two weeks. Such a fast cycle allows them to multiply incredibly quickly. Female bird mites need blood to reproduce and can feed by penetrating the skin with their sharp mouthparts. They tend to feed on mammal and bird blood, but will bite into human skin, too.
Where do bird mites live?
Bird mites are usually found on the skin, between bird feathers and in bird nests, where they form colonies of thousands. When the host birds die or leave the nest, this triggers an exodus as the mites go in search of the humidity and blood that they need to survive. They are very adaptable parasites and have been known to infest the skin of many mammals, including rats and mice. This means that even if there are no birds nesting nearby, you may still be struck with an infestation. Once the mites infest a household they will burrow into fabric and wood, laying their eggs during the day. At night they come out to feed.
What are the signs of a bird mite infestation?
Mites are hard, if not impossible to see with the human eye, detection is difficult and can only be ascertained through their bites.
- The bites will cause intensely itchy red lesions that heal very slowly.
- If you are experiencing bites, yet you have no pets and it is off-season for mosquitoes, then it is possible you have a bird mite infestation.
- Because mites are nocturnal feeders you will experience more discomfort during the night.
- As the mites move around they produce sensations of crawling on the skin.
- The bites are often diagnosed as scabies. If scabies treatment doesn’t appear to be working, you may have a mite infestation.
- Mites love humid environments. If your house has high humidity and lots of carpeting or upholstery then you have the perfect environment for bird mites to live in.
Does a bird mite infestation need controlling?
Bird mite infestations are very difficult to get rid of as they are hard to spot and they multiply extremely quickly.
- Due to their small size, they can spread all over a dwelling, infesting furniture, carpets and wooden flooring.
- They can be a danger to health. Mites can spread diseases normally found in birds, to humans. An example is Newcastle disease.
- Mite infestations are extremely uncomfortable.
- Mites can become immune to pesticides, so it is important to try and wipe out an infestation in one go.
- A severe infestation will require professional pest control services.