Each summer, householders complain of bites by a small insect or mite. They are however, bird mites commonly associated with bird nesting in or near houses (particularly under eaves) or roosting in trees nears houses.

Appearance and Habits

To the naked eye the adult male bird mite looks like a grey black spot about as big as a pin head moving across the floor. The mites breed on a number of birds including starlings sparrows and pigeons.

During summer these birds build their nest/roost in/on top of people’s roofs, buildings, industrial factories and farm sheds. Over the nesting period the mites will reach plague numbers. When the birds leave their nest the mites search for another host, and may be seen migrating down the walls.

Most victims first realise that they have bird mite when red weals start to appear on the host’s skin. Under a hand lens bird mites are oblong and are about 1mm long. The grey-brown adult may appear reddish after it has had a blood meal.

Bird Mite Life cycle

The eggs are laid in masses in the fluff of feathers particularly around the birds neck. The eggs hatch in 2 – 3 days and the newly hatched six legged larvae, that does not feed, moults to the nymphal stage, there are two nymphal stages and each stage requires a blood meal before proceeding.

These nymphal stages take 2 or more days. This life cycle is completed in a week or more, depending on the weather.

Control

The first step is to find and destroy or remove the nest. Thoroughly spray around where the nest was to stop them spreading.

Houses and building should be bird-proofed using wire netting to stop further reinfestation. Generally this species of bird mites cannot live more than 10 days away from it’s bird host, so it is only a temporary, albeit a very uncomfortable, pest to human.