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Bird and Rodent Mites


by Ralph H Maestre BCE

Magic Pest Management services Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Nassau. Within these territories Rats and Birds causes infestations that lead to property damage, food contamination, and disease. Once these pests are removed a secondary pest may suddenly appear. These come in the form of parasites. These bird or rodent parasites cause constant irritation through bites. The female mite requires a blood meal for egg production. Commonly known as bird mites and/or rat mites they are sometimes also referred more specifically as the Tropical rat mite, Northern fowl mite, or Tropical fowl mite.

These mites are found throughout the world, although the Northern fowl mite (O. sylviarum) is more common in cooler climates and the Tropical fowl mite (O. bursa) more common in the warmer climates.


These parasitic mites infest warm-blooded animals. As their common names imply they may have preferred hosts of rodents or birds, but in the absence of those hosts, or in heavily infested structures, they also bite humans. This is when the pest control technician steps in to solve the problem. Distinguishing each kind to its individual species is very difficult. The host may be present within or on the structure and will help in the identification. Unlike many fleas and ticks none of these mite species have been implicated as an important vector of any diseases to humans, but their bites can be very painful and lead to itching, irritated rashes. While sexual reproduction occurs the females also may reproduce parthenogenetically, without fertilization by males. The time from egg to adult mite is usually less than 2 weeks, with 4 or 5 blood meals taken during this growth period. The nymphs generally cannot survive more than 12 days without food, while adults may survive over 2 months without a blood meal.


Although very small, about the size of a pinhead, the mites are distinguished from most other common, structural species by the very long legs and very long mouthparts. These long, pointed chelicerae and palps stick well out in front of the head region. The 8 legs are very long and well separated, allowing for good mobility by these mites. The body is oval, with the thorax and abdomen combined to a single segment without separation. The color is light grayish in unfed mites to reddish orange in mites recently having had a blood meal. The fowl mites often seem to have a patchy, mottled appearance of dark areas.

Characteristics Important in Control:

Magic Pest Management relies on proper identification by our on staff entomologist, and then discovery of and removal of the source, which will be nests of rodents or birds in or on the structure. If the source of the bird mites is determined to be nests of swallows on the exterior, extreme care must be given to the protected status of these birds. Inspection may be made using white paper or glue pads with a light background, and at least 20X magnification may be needed to make the identification. Once the source is eliminated it may be advisable to treat areas within the structure to prevent the spread and biting of humans. Residual dust insecticides or pyrethroids labeled for void treatment can be effective in pest extermination. Surface treatment is difficult since very few products in New York State are labels for indoor mite control.

Treatments must be done on every rat job that is performed. Both go hand in hand, if the mite control program is not implemented then the customer will be bitten. This is unacceptable. Here at Magic Pest Management LLC we are trying to create protocol and service guidelines to help the office staff and service technicians understand, implement, and solve our customer's pest problems.