“Dedicated to finding effective solutions for bird mite infestations of humans and their environment, encouraging those afflicted, facilitating research and a better understanding of human parasitosis.”
A House Infested…And Some Solutions
I have been researching this issue since 2000, when we bought a house that backs up to open space. We have been under attack ever since. When I say we, it is primarily me (adult female) and my dogs (all female) who seem to be under siege. It appears that mites are drawn more readily to females, but some men are just as attractive to them. We have had both birds roosting and roof rats nesting. Our house had a tile roof that afforded easy access to the eaves. We went through the usual rounds of doctor visits, permethrin treatments, veterinary university visits, with limited success.
Here is what I’ve learned: The most effective massive killing process to clear a house of bird or rat mites is to have the dwelling tented and fumigated by gas. This kills everything inside the home and on the exterior walls. It will kill everything that is hiding in an air pocket inside the house and it solves the problem of trying to reach all the places mites hide. It is a very expensive process and cost prohibitive for a lot of people with fumigation for a small, one story house starting at $3,000.00. Bird mites are long lived, and extremely difficult to get rid of. Fumigation I’m told is the silver bullet.
If fumigation is not an option, mix 20 mule team borax (available at most supermarkets in the laundry detergent section) with wax and wax your hardwood floors. If you have tile floors, mix it with the wash water and a mild dish detergent every time you mop the floor. Mix the borax with water and spray walls and wash the walls down. Sprinkle carpets with borax and then vacuum the carpet. Using plastic mattress covers is a good idea, but don’t overlook pillows. If you’re sure you’re battling bird mites don’t use down pillows or comforters; switch to acrylic and wash them often.
You can obtain diatomaceous earth formulated specifically as an insecticide at garden supply stores. Sprinkle this around the outside perimeter of the home (the last line of defense). (When handling Diatomaceous Earth, use a mask as it can be extremely irritating to the lungs). It is not recommended that you use Diatomaceous Earth inside the home. It can become airborne very easily via normal household movement. Diatomaceous earth shreds crawling insect and ectoparasite skeletal structure.
Animals should be treated with a spot-on preventative like Revolution. Revolution has a derivative of Ivermectin called selamectin, and as it is a Heart Worm Preventative it is available only by prescription from a Veterinarian. Animals should be treated at the same time all the other cleaning is being done to prevent ongoing infestation.
As far as treating the humans in the home: Take lots of baths. Use epsom salts and bath oil. Pamper your skin, and drown the bugs. Do not apply bleach to the skin or bathe in it. The skin has natural bacteria that protects the body, and treating the skin with bleach will kill the bacteria and expose the body to invasive bacteria and yeasts. Another bad idea is to apply animal pharmaceuticals to human skin. Don’t use pet spot ons or permethrin shampoos on the human body. Those products have been formulated in doses that are specific to animals, and absorption of those products into the human body, could be highly toxic.
Repellants that are effective are skin products specifically formulated for humans that contain a small amount of tea tree oil. Neem oil is a repellant and some people reported getting relief by upping the amount of garlic they consumed in their diet.
A lot of people who battle bird and rodent mites suffer from candida, toe-nail fungus and other opportunistic health issues because of imbalances caused by overzealous skin treatment. Toenail fungus may be cured with the application of Tea Tree Oil applied directly to the nail. Candida will require a special diet. Other yeasts and Fungus should be diagnosed and treated by a physician.
Prevention is key in reducing a bird mite population. Buy large plastic owls at the hardware store and position them in prominent locations around the property where birds will see them. Another good deterrent is a plastic snake. They used to sell plastic snakes at toys-r-us. Position these at various spots around the exterior roof of the house to discourage birds from coming near. Chimneys should have a screen guard to discourage roosting. If you see a bird start to build a nest, tear it down immediately. Don’t feel bad, they’ll build another one in a tree somewhere. You have to be vigilant to prevent birds from roosting if you don’t have owl or snake warning signs posted.
We’ve radically reduced the mite population in our home by replacing the tile roof, replacing all the carpet in our home with tile and hard wood, making sure all holes in the eaves are patched. We have large owls positioned on all four corners of the house. All my surfaces are periodically refreshed with Borax. The dogs, after a course of revolution are now itch free but the minute they do get an itch, I bathe them in a bath of epsom salts and bath oil, just like us people. It does wonders for their coats. (Itching in the ears can be addressed by coating the inside of the ear with mineral oil, it will smother the mites). The cats, I spray with a mixture of water and olive oil. They don’t like it much, but they used to have dandruff and scratch, and now there is no dandruff and their coats look wonderful. The cats are now confined indoors so that they can’t bring home birds and rodents that will transmit both parasites and disease.
This fight isn’t easy and it’s not cheap, and it can often be fought in a non-toxic way. It won’t go away overnight, but be patient. It will go away or at the least be bearable, if you are diligent.
Recommended Treatment Provider
We recommend you use a licensed professional to address a bird mite problem. Don’t wait or the problem will get much worse and more expensive to treat. We have a list of pest control companies that are specifically qualified to treat bird mites.
Follow this link to find a Qualified Local Exterminator near you.
Keep in mind that if bird mites are not treated correctly, even if the correct chemicals are used, they can become resistant to those chemicals. Don’t use a pest control company unless they have extensive experience treating bird mites.