What are Bird Mites?
Bird mites are parasites that feed on the blood of birds and breed in birds’ nests. They can greatly threaten the health of birds and may cause skin irritation of birds, as well as humans. Denying them food will cause the mites to die within a few days. Bird mites have a tendency to live in poultry houses and farms, as well as homes with birds for pets. Their life cycle includes egg, larva, nymph, and mature adult.
Frequented Areas of Bird Mites
There are 2 main species of bird mites that can be found in North America, the D. Gallinae and northern fowl mite. The Tropical fowl mite is found in other regions in the world, mainly tropical climates. Humid conditions are prime for bird mites, and they breed mostly in the spring and early summer. If an infestation happens inside of a house, bedding material and furniture are the most likely breeding grounds for these bird mites.
Residents in Florida and California with more humid climates may experience more bird mite activity than those in more arid climates like Arizona. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers can be used to remove any excess moisture from the air in a home. Ultimately, bird mite infestations can happen throughout the world, from Australia to England, and throughout the entire United States.
Identification and Physical Characteristics
These bird mites are an ovoid shape and have 8 legs. Their bodies are covered in short hairs. They are very small and quite transparent, and infestation may go unnoticed for some time. The immature nymphs only have 3 pairs of legs. All bird mites have a protruding mouthpart that is sharp, allowing the mite to penetrate the skin in order to get the blood. Mites are typically opaque but are darker after a meal of blood.
These mites are extremely small, and a mature northern fowl mite is no more than half of a millimeter long, while d. Gallinae is normally no more than about .4 millimeters in length. This means that a mature bird mite would be no larger than the period at the end of a sentence (.), for perspective. One-third of the mite’s body is the front legs and mouthpiece, so the rest of the length is actually the body. The northern fowl mite is a little darker and easier to spot than the d. Gallinae. The immature nymphs are smaller than adult mites and may not be seen with the naked eye, only with strong magnification.
Special Characteristics of Bird Mites
Infestations grow very rapidly and the eggs of some species hatch in just 3 days and are matured into adults over the next 5 days. Bird mites usually spend their whole lives on just one host and will leave to seek a new host if their first one dies. They may only survive a few days without food, and the females need blood in order to reproduce. Females make up typically about 95% of the mite population.
The northern fowl mite’s life cycle is spent mostly on the host. These hosts are not only birds, these mites can infest rodents such as rats, field mice, gerbils, which means that they can easily be brought to the inside of a home and create an infestation. Bird mite activity does increase with humidity.
Removal and Preventative Procedures
Removing or relocating bird nests is an important step to preventing an infestation at a home. State and government regulations must be followed, though, as some birds and their nests may be protected. When an infected nest is identified, other nests that are near should be inspected for infestations as well.
Poultry houses that are experiencing a bird mite infestation should be treated twice a year. Spring and summer are ideal treating times, as these are breeding conditions and the rise in population mean a rise in visibility.
Application of Chemicals or Electronic Removal
The best results will always be seen with the help of a pest control professional. If a mite infestation is found on a household pet, the pet should be taken to a veterinarian to receive treatment for the mite infestation. When bird mites are found to have infested a home or near a home, it is important to seek the help of a bird mite specialist to eradicate the problem.