Alcohol is effective in treating smaller infestations of bird mites. It can be mixed with vinegar for a 50/50 solution. This solution is safe, effective, and inexpensive, but is far more effective when combined with regular cleaning.
What You'll Learn
All pets require a certain level of care. However, bird ownership can present unique problems not seen with other animal species.
While the average owner might be prepared for fleas or ticks, bird mites are a pest seldom seen outside our feathered friends.
Not all solutions for these pesky bugs need to include expensive pesticides. We’ll be looking at a common household item that can help eliminate bird mites from a home.
What are Bird Mites?
Bird Mites are a type of parasite that feeds exclusively on avian species. They have bodies specially adapted to fit between feathers so they can feed on the animal’s blood.
In North America, two types of bird mites are most commonly seen: The Northern Fowl Bird Mite and the Chicken Mite.
Both can feed on a wide variety of avian and even some non-avian species.
How Does a Bird Mite Infestation Begin?
Unsurprisingly, the most common way a bird mite infestation begins is when a wild or outside nesting bird is brought into the home. Mites live and reproduce on birds throughout their life in the wild.
Another way they can make their way into where humans live is when there are significant amounts of birds nesting in or around a house or apartment building.
Can Bird Mites Feed on Humans?
Fortunately, the correct answer to this is a definitive no. Bird Mites cannot subsist on human blood and thus cannot continue their life cycle when no other animals are present. However, it may take up to two weeks without a meal before the mites die off naturally.
However, they can still leave irritating bites. This, along with their small size and rapid ability to breed, can make them frustrating to deal with for bird owners or anyone else unlucky enough to find them in their home.
What Are the Risks of Bird Mites?
To humans, bird mites represent little more than a nuisance. As mentioned before, their inability to feed on humans means they only bite when they can’t find more suitable sustenance.
While it might be more comforting to know that they aren’t interested in feeding on humans, their bites can be quite itchy and irritating, leaving behind raised bumps that may persist for hours or days.
If their preferred meal is present within the house, they may be difficult to eliminate unless decisive action is taken.
What Can I Do About Bird Mites?
Suffering an infestation of bird mites can be a serious disruption to everyday life, but for the bird owner, or anyone unlucky enough to have tracked the mites inside, there is good news.
While other pests might need expensive pesticides or professional extermination, many people can get rid of minor infestations of bird mites all on their own with a bit of elbow grease and the help of some easy and inexpensive household cleaners.
What Works Against Bird Mites?
Several commercially available pesticides are marketed as effective for killing off bird mites. However, these will almost all be more costly than other solutions. They also carry risks associated with using powerful chemicals in the home.
Studies have found that a 91% alcohol solution effectively kills bird mites on contact. Mixing it in a 50/50 ratio with vinegar is recommended, which both improves the harsh smell that a pure alcohol solution puts off and provides additional efficacy in eliminating the mites.
While other common household cleaners such as Lysol also do a great job of killing bird mites, they may not be suitable for every application.
Mites commonly infest bedding, and Lysol can be irritating and is not meant for contact with human skin, making it a poor choice to spray a mattress with.
The previously mentioned solution of alcohol and vinegar is safer for use as a spray on bedding, and anywhere humans or animals are likely to have prolonged contact. As alcohol evaporates more quickly than water, repeated applications are unlikely to build up a residue that might irritate the skin.
The same solution can be used the same way as any other cleaner if mixed in larger amounts. Wiping or mopping floors with it is equally effective at killing any mites on a surface. These two products may even be less expensive than commercial cleaning products that kill bird mites.
An effective killer is only one part of successfully eliminating these insects from the home. Regular cleaning, including vacuuming carpets where the mites can hide, is a key component to their eradication. As mites are not killed when vacuumed, remember to empty or throw away the dust bag outside.
Finally, mattress covers such as those commonly marketed for bed bugs are equally effective at sealing in mites that might be hiding where they can’t be easily dealt with.
Bird Mites are an irritating pest that many people aren’t used to dealing with. Any new or experienced bird owner should know the risk posed by bringing in birds that have nested outside.
If mites manage to get a foothold, a solution of 50/50 alcohol and vinegar can be used as either a spray or to wipe down surfaces to kill them on contact.
This, combined with regular cleaning, can be enough to drastically reduce or eliminate bird mites in the home.
Recommended For You
- Do Bees Sting Birds? [And Why They Do It]
- Do Birds Eat Mushrooms? Are They Safe?
- Can Bird Eggs Hatch Without The Mother?
- Should I Remove An Old Nest From a Bird Box?
I am Bryan Powell and I own BirdHour.com. I love bird watching; in fact, I have a parakeet of my own. I enjoy spending time outdoors and observing the natural world around me. This website is a means of sharing my passion for birds with others who may be interested in this activity.