Bird mite infestation?

Asked August 18, 2014, 2:28 PM EDT

Hello and thank you in advance for any help you can give. I live in a log home and recently had a bird build a nest on the back of my house above the kitchen window. I didn't realize it was there until doing dishes one day and seeing a bird fly past. The nest had been there it looks like for some time as all babies had hatched and flown away. I took the nest down and disposed of it. That was about two weeks ago. For the past month or a bit longer I noticed possible bird mites crawling on counter and in mail set on counter but didn't know what they were. Now I am totally infested with them.I put one on a piece of tape and looked at it under a microscope and it looks like photos I have seen. I am not sure how I could post a photo? They are very small and almost clear brown in color. I really have to watch to see them move. Some are a little darker. They look almost hour glass shape with four legs on each side. They move slow and do not jump. I have been cleaning like a mad woman but it just seem to be getting worse. They were in my kitchen cupboards in all the boxes of noodles, rice, gum and anything they could get into. They were in most of my spices and hid in dark spots. They seem to like folded paper and cardboard boxes. I did get bifinthrin and sprayed parimiters and did fog my home as I had spiders and some flys also and it had been years since previous fogging. Living in a log home makes it harder to seal everything sometimes. I washed everything down with 20 mule team borax. I am at wits end. I have not got bitten but it is possible my dogs have as they seem more itchy. I know I need to get a sample to extension office but it is a long drive and I am not able to right way but will. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I really can not afford an exterminator so I would like to take care of it myself if at all possible. Will these eventually go away or keep multiplying? Is it true they need a bird host to multiply and survive? I have read horror stories of having these for years and not being able to get rid of the mites. Sorry this is so long but I am trying to remember everything to make it easier. Thank you so much, Sincerely Joey

Minnesota

3 Responses

Thank you for your question about bird mites. I encourage you not to put too much credence in some of the information you might have read about bird mites online. Once bird nests are eliminated, any mites that are going to emerge in search of another nest should not persist very long. You may be experiencing mites now, but as long as the birds are excluded from the home the mites will go away relatively quickly as egg hatching and life cycle development usually takes 15-21 days. Bird mites feed only on bird blood (though they can bite humans), so they would have no affinity for spices or other foods, or clothing, etc. They do not hitchhike on people, and there is no danger of transferring them to another location. Rats, BTW, also can have mites associated with nests. For more information on biting mites, see http://citybugs.tamu.edu/factsheets/biting-stinging/others/ent-3009/

Bifenthrin is the insecticide we generally recommend for treating the nest area, and possible entry points into the home; but we do not recommend widespread use throughout the home. If you wish to send a photo, you can send to me at m-merchant@tamu.edu

Thank you for getting back and for the info. Makes me feel better as I was starting to panic with all I read. I sent the photos to you via email address. The mites were pretty good yesterday but seem worse today again. Hoping it goes the other way soon. Your help it greatly appreciated. Joey

Your photos are good. These are not mites. They are booklice, Order Psocoptera, very tiny insects that feed on molds and mildews. They are not true lice (which are blood-feeding parasites). They were originally called “booklice” because, before the days of air conditioning, they were commonly seen between mildewed pages of books stored in humid environments. They do not bite people. These insects are unlikely to be causing any damage and will not bite or infest humans. They are typically found in structures in areas with relatively high humidity. Control by reducing humidity or eliminating sources of leaks in the room. Pesticides are generally unnecessary and would not always be effective. For more information, see our online publication http://citybugs.tamu.edu/FastSheets/Ent-1038.html

It is not uncommon after encountering a very distressing infestation of mites, or fleas, or bed bugs, to have the feeling they are persisting, even after they’ve been eliminated. Especially with small things like mites, it’s easy to start seeing “mites” everywhere. I hope you’ll be relieved that these are nothing to worry about.