Parasitic bird mites (Dermanyssus species Acarina: Dermanyssidae)
Mites in the genus Dermanyssus are external parasites of birds, rodents and other mammals. The most common member of this group is the Chicken Mite that infests poultry roosts and wild bird nests. The chicken mite feeds primarily at night when the birds return the nest or roast area. They hide during the day in nearby cracks, crevices and other protected sites. These mites are known to infest homes and bite people when bird nests are built on homes. Repeated bites can result in a rash and intense itching. Adult mites can live four or five months or so without a blood meal and they can persist in the home after the source has been removed.
Control of these parasites in homes begins with locating and removing the source of the infestation. If the residence has a history of rodent problems, measures must be taken to reduce the rodent population. Another source may be pet rodents like gerbils or hamsters. Once the nest or source is removed the surrounding area should be treated with a residual insecticide like Dursban (Ortho Home Pest Insect Control). The inside of the home can be treated with synergized pyrethrins (Raid) if the mites are found throughout the house.
Controlling these mites in chicken coops, barns and other structures where chickens roost is more difficult. Sprays containing Rabon and Ravap should be applied to all surfaces and litter near where the birds roost at night. Birds can be treated with insecticides registered specifically for this purpose in severe cases. Be sure to treat the vent area where some mite species are known to favor.
Be sure to read and follow all the instructions and safety precautions found on the pesticide label before using any pesticide. If you have additional questions, please feel free to call me at (517) 353-9386.