Bird Mites: Prevention and treatment
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Bird mites are naturally found where birds (such as pigeons, starlings, sparrows and poultry) and their nests are located.
However, in the first few weeks after birds leave their nests, bird mites may infest homes in search of a blood-meal from humans. Bites from bird mites can cause severe irritation.
Bird mites are found in the warmer regions of the world, including Australia.
There are several species of bird mite but the most common species affecting humans is the domestic Starling mite, Ornithonyssus bursa from the family Macronyssidae.
Bird mites are:
Bird mites are generally associated with moist or humid conditions and are most active during spring and early summer and are naturally found where birds (such as pigeons, starlings, sparrows and poultry) and their nests are located.
They may move into living spaces in houses, climbing on walls, ceilings and bedding in search of a blood meal.
Humans can be exposed to bird mites when young birds leave their nests and the mite is left without a suitable host to feed from.
Proper identification of bird mites is very important in determining how to control mite infestations.
The best approach for controlling an infestation is to locate and remove bird nests. When removing nests, a mask and gloves should be worn to prevent transfer of mites, and bacterial infections. Nests may be found:
Prevent birds from occupying spaces in houses by repairing broken tiles and
blocking openings in eaves or roof cavities.
To eradicate bird mites, treat the area with an approved insecticide such as a surface spray or insecticide powder.
A registered pest controller may be required if the nesting material is inaccessible or large areas are involved.
Bird mites will feed on humans but do not live on humans as they cannot complete their life cycle on humans. Therefore, infestations are generally self-limiting if birds and nesting have been eradicated.
Bites from bird mites:
The sensation of crawling bird mites on the skin will irritate some people.
The best way to avoid bird mite bites is to apply an insect repellant containing diethyl meta-toluamide (DEET) or 3-methyl-n->diethylbenzamide.
An anti-itch cream or lotion may reduce irritation associated with bites.
Please note: SA Health provides this information for people residing in South Australia. If you live outside of South Australia, you will need to contact your local health authority for help and advice specific to your area.
If you believe you have a bird mite infestation at home, contact: