Bird Mites

Bird Mites

Scientific Name: Nephila spp.

How to identify a Bird Mites

Bird mites are not insects as some of the public may think as they have eight legs and two body parts. The most common mite associated with bird nests is the “Starling mite” or “Tropical fowl mite” (Ornithonyssus bursa) and it is a member of the Family Macronyssidae. Sometimes other species, the Northern fowl mite (Ornithonyssus sylviarum) or the chicken mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) are the culprits. Occasionally another species, the tropical rat mite (Ornithonyssus bacoti) is associated with rats’ or mice nests as the name suggests.

Where are Bird Mites commonly found?

Bird mites can be found in both commercial and domestic premises where birds are nesting.

Why are Bird Mites considered a pest?

Fortunately, bird mites do not transmit diseases and their pest status is due entirely to their practice of “test biting” on humans. As with fleas, they inject saliva to assist with their feeding and it is the saliva which causes the intense irritation. The irritation can lead to severe itching and subsequent rashes.

What is the biology and lifecycle of bird mites?

Ornithonyssus bursa is a small mite and is barely visible to the unaided eye. It is oval in shape and has a covering of short hairs. It is an obligate parasite and feeds on the blood of a number of exotic bird species, chickens and some native species. An unfed mite is virtually transparent but is reddish-purple after a blood meal. They move quickly when they leave the host nest and may be visible in literally hundreds or even thousands as they swarm down a wall looking for a feed. They are most common during spring and early summer when the birds are in breeding mode. The life cycle is approximately seven days.

Chemicals Required to Control Bird Mites

Apply insecticide powder and surface spray to all affected areas, preferably containing pyrethin.

Management Tips for Bird Mites

Identification Proper identification of bird mites is very important in determining how to control mite infestations.

Finding and removing bird nests 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:

  • around eaves and in chimneys

  • in roof spaces

  • in cavities in walls

  • in foundations and basements

  • around porches

  • on window ledges.

Prevention and eradication 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.


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