Bird mites are tiny parasites in the tick family that bite humans when their original hosts are gone. Bird mites can enter the home of people who raise chickens, have bird nests on or around their home, keep birds as pets or have other animals that carry them inside. Symptoms of bird-mite infestation include itchiness, a crawling sensation, persistent rashes and small red bumps on the body. It's difficult to get rid of bird mites once infestation occurs because they adapt well to new environments and can become resistant to the chemicals used to eliminate them.
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Prevent bird mites entering your home. Remove empty nests in your garden, as well as nests that birds have built in the crevices of your home's exterior. Wash second-hand clothing immediately after purchasing, and clean used rugs and furniture thoroughly outside before bringing them inside. Spray an insecticide designed for bird mites around your home's exterior features, such as doorways and windowsills. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the perimeter of your house. Diatomaceous earth is a natural insecticide made from crushed fossilised remains of hard-shell sea algae called diatoms. It's available at garden centres.
Kill the bird mites that are in your home. Sprinkle borax on any carpeted surface to kill the mites. Vacuum the carpet, all other floors and your furniture with a vacuum that uses disposable bags. Immediately store the vacuum-cleaner bag in the freezer to kill any surviving mites, and leave it there for two hours before discarding. Wipe down counters, walls, tiles and tabletops with a mixture of 1/2 cup of borax, 4 tablespoons of washing-up liquid and 4.5 litres of hot water. Wash bedding, curtains and clothing in your washing machine's hot-water cycle, and replace down pillows and comforters with ones made out of acrylic.
Follow treatment options for you and your pets. Bathe in epsom salt and bath oil that contains tea tree oil, both of which soothe the skin and ease the crawling sensation caused by mites. Wash with soap that contains tea tree oil. Treat lesions with hydrogen peroxide and apply medicated body powder to your body. Bathe your non-bird pets and coat the inside of their ears with mineral oil to smother any mites. Talk to your vet about treatment options for any pet birds you may have.
Call a pest control specialist. Ask a licensed bird-mite removal professional to come to your home and provide a free estimate. Decide whether you want to treat the problem yourself or pay the professional to rid your home of the bird mites.
Tips and warnings
- See a doctor for treatment of bites, especially if they are slow to heal or become infected.
- Follow instructions on insecticide labels. Keep insecticides and borax away from pets and children, as they can be harmful if ingested.
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