Bird mites, scientifically known as Ornithonyssus bursa, are arthropods that are almost too small for humans to see without any magnification. They cause much nuisance in places they infest and create discomfort when they bite people. These types of mites are oval shaped, have eight legs, and are found anywhere birds nest. If there is a bird nest on the roof and some kind of opening leads inside the house, bird mites can find their way in when the birds leave the nest.
Infestations of bird mites are common in warm and humid locations, and are most common in the late spring and early summer. This coincides with the time bird populations reach their peak sizes in warm, muggy climates. The mites are most attracted to pigeons, sparrows, starlings, and poultry. If the birds are nesting in a roof cavity, it is possible for the mites to get inside the house through broken tiles or cracks in wood, plaster, or insulation. Bird mites only live for about a week but multiply rapidly, and infestations can occur very quickly once the arthropods get inside.
Blood is necessary for these mites to survive and reproduce, and they cannot live for too long by only ingesting human blood. It is their ability to sense heat, moisture, and carbon dioxide that draws them to people when there is no other food source available. Symptoms of bird mite bites include itching or an irritated or crawling feeling on the skin. There can also be reddish skin inflammation and swelling, which is a reaction to the saliva of this minuscule creature. Bird mites can reside anywhere in the house, but more commonly congregate in bedrooms and bathrooms.
The bites are tricky to diagnose, especially since the bird mites are so hard to see, and the bites are not dangerous unless a severe reaction occurs. Allergic reactions can be treated with antihistamines. Diseases are not transmitted through bird mite bites. Unless something is done to block the entry of the mites, the bites will continue whether they are treated or not.
Taking away the source of infestation is the only way to ensure bird mite elimination. The current infestation can be taken care of with insecticidal spray, but the bird mites will keep getting in unless broken timber or tiles as well as openings to the roof are fixed and sealed. Nesting sites should be cleared and measures should be taken to prevent birds from reappearing on the roof.