Antlions are fun, but it’s been less pleasurable this week to answer inquiries about mites in the house. Earlier inquiries were about clover mites, accidental invaders that wander in from the lawn. https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/clover-mite
However, more recent inquires (samples adhered under clear tape and blurry digital photos) have been tinier, darker mites that bite and leave uncomfortable welts. Bird mites live in bird nests and feed on blood from the baby birds. Populations grow very large, very quickly, as each generation of mites can happen in as few as 7 days. Then, when the baby birds leave the nest, the mites get mighty hungry and wander away looking for food. They will travel long distances, especially considering their small size of about 1 mm in length. One alarming reference hypothesized there could be “many tens of thousands” of mites in the nest, ready to disperse throughout the residence, stopping to find a blood meal from a host, any host. Saliva from bird mite bites injected into humans may cause irritation, rash, and itching, but there are no known disease pathogens transmitted to humans by bird mites.
When mites are wandering, it’s probably too-little-too-late, but step 1 is to remove any bird nests on the house. This can be followed with a residual insecticide spray along the edges of the rooms to deplete the mite population a little faster than will naturally happen by starvation and dehydration that may take up to 3 weeks.
More online at https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/bird-mites
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