“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 Bird Mite Nightmare…One Person’s Story
My nightmare started four years ago when I removed a sparrow’s nest from my garage after the young birds had vacated the premises. A few days later, I started to get these bites all over my back and legs, and some on my arms and face. I would first notice them when I woke up in the morning. My bedroom was only about 10 feet from the garage and I slept with the windows open, since it was summer in northern Ohio and I didn’t have AC. At the time I had no clue what happened.
I soon realized that I had some type of bug infestation, and assumed it must be fleas but I don’t have a pet and am very good about vacuuming, etc. I sprayed the heck out of the place with bug spray for fleas, vacuumed and cleaned everything, but it did not help. After about a month of torment and not sleeping much at night, I realized it wasn’t fleas.
I then thought it was the ‘no-see-ums’ (biting midges), but I don’t live near water and these things bothering me don’t fly but crawl and are worse at night. Nevertheless, I bought fine-mesh window screening, and rescreened the whole house, thinking if it was midges, this would keep them out. No luck here, whatever it was, it was already throughout the house, in the carpeting, bedding, etc.
I thought it could be bedbugs but these are too small, and bedbugs don’t get in your nose and mouth the way these things do. I never saw any of the telltale debris from bedbugs either. I vacuumed, washed and disinfected everything, but still no luck. I could blow my nose and see tiny dots of red blood and the itching and crawling was totally unbearable at times. It was exasperating not knowing exactly what the heck this was. It was the worst thing I had ever experienced in my life.
Thanks to the posts on some websites, I finally figured out after many months that I had some type of bird mite, and have communicated with others who have been dealing with this same dilemma. And it made sense, seeing this nightmare started after removing a bird’s nest. And they were so small, which eliminated many other bugs.
After that, I tried many things in order to keep them off of me. I took hot baths with all kinds of different salts and essential oils. Epsom salt scrub does seem to help some. I tried changing my diet thinking it would help. I even started smoking cigars to help keep them out of my mouth and sinus, and it does helps some!
I used every bug spray out there, some helped a little but most didn’t. I even bought a ULV fogger/sprayer that professional pest control operators use, and bought some really strong chemicals, and had to wear a respirator to spray them. The bug spraying got so bad that it would choke me to where I could hardly breathe and it would burn my eyes. I would often have to go to a hotel just to get a few hours sleep and to breath fresh air again. The 100% DEET I put on my skin would often burn and would only work for a few hours at best. The mites ended up in the car, at work, and any place where I would be for any length of time. Since they so easily can hide anywhere, nothing got rid of them sufficiently, and I had to move out of that house.
One of the frustrating aspects of this nightmare is the lack of knowledge by so called experts. Many entomology websites will say that these mites only live on host birds. After four years of hell, I can assure you that they do in fact live on human blood. If no bird is around, blood from another mammal is just as good. I am using the term ‘bird mite’ in a generic way, since there are several different type that are host on birds and I am not sure which one I am dealing with, although I suspect it is D. Gallinae, because of how long they live without a host.
The dermatologist I went to was of no help, and in fact, he must have thought I was delusional when I mentioned the crawling bugs. He gave me some Zyprexa, ‘to help me sleep at night’. As a college grad in health care, I knew this was an anti-psychotic medicine. Since when do derms feel they are qualified to make a psych diagnosis? In spite of all the bites and dermatitis on my back, he just sort of dismissed them. Do yourself a favor, and don’t waste your time with them, they can’t really help with an infestation. Only give something temporary for the itch and rash.
Early on, I had most of my furniture hauled away to the trash. Almost all the rest of my stuff was put in storage. I have long since moved out of that house, and yet I still have to deal with this crap everyday. Fighting them has been an ongoing battle. Once, I even bought a parakeet to see if maybe they would switch host and not bother me any more. I put glue strips around the birdcage to try to get rid of them. Well, the poor bird was tormented too and so was I still. It would aggressively peck at itself and flap its wings for long periods, more so at night. So I had to get rid of the bird.
After about a year of this, I finally realized these aren’t just skin parasites, content to bite and crawl on the host. They seemed to be in my mouth and sinus cavity, and other places as much as being on my skin. Many days I wake up gagging and coughing up white phlegm. And the same white color snot from my nose (sorry so gross sounding). Sometimes I wake up with painful erections from them biting me. Maybe the mature female sometimes places the eggs in the host mammal to incubate and to assure that they will survive? Who knows? And I suspect the slow crawling on the skin is due to the immature mites, which have one less pair of legs.
Since they seemed to be thriving in me, I tried oral Ivermectin (Stromectol) a few times, and also Vermox medications for parasites. Nothing seems to really knock them out. Once they have a host, they are very tenacious. The sulfa drugs have helped some people, but I am allergic to them.
Since these mites were most active late at night, I wasn’t getting a lot of deep restful sleep. After a few month of this it really took its toll, and life bacame very discouraging, and then depression became a big factor; mainly from a lack of sleep and inability to eradicate them. After about a year of torment I became suicidal as I just didn’t want to deal with this anymore, as it was affecting almost every area of my life. I didn’t want to be around others for any length of time for fear of contaminating them somehow. I would notice when around some people, they would start to scratch, rub their nose, or start sneezing. Also, this is something you just can’t talk about with others very easily; they will either think you are crazy since they have never heard of it or else they will want to avoid you so they don’t end up with this problem also.
Before this all started, I was a very healthy middle-aged man who enjoyed biking, hiking and sports. Not anymore! This past year I have noticed a lot more joint aches and pain (arthralgia) and found out I am hypothyroid. My body temperature is typically around 97.5 F. The stress from this is starting to take it’s toll on me. I do find that MSM does decrease the arthralgia, I take about 1000 mg daily.
It has been a struggle, with all the cleaning, vacuuming, laundry, and bug spraying I have to do daily. Over time, I have learned to manage it a lot better, and know what to expect and what has to be done every day just to live a halfway normal life.
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.