Bird Mites

Bird Mite
Bird Mite
(Ornithonyssus bursa)

"Bird mites", "Tropical fowl mites" or "Starling Mites" are the common names used to describe the mite Ornithonyssus bursa from the family of mites Macronyssidae.

Bird mites are most active during Spring and early Summer. Ornithonyssus bursa is a small but extremely mobile mite, barely visible to the eye, with eight legs (except the larva that has 6), oval in shape and with a sparse covering of short hairs.

The mite is widely distributed throughout warmer regions of the world. It is a parasite, feeding on the blood of common birds including pigeons, starlings, sparrows, Indian mynahs, poultry, and some wild birds. Bird mites are semi-transparent in colour, which makes them difficult to detect on skin until blood is ingested and then digested; when they may appear reddish to blackish.

Contact with humans usually occurs after birds gain entry to roof cavities via broken tiles or through unprotected eaves, of homes, factories, barns and other dwellings to construct their nests in early spring or summer. However, some infestations also occur from birds roosting on the outside of dwellings such as window ledges or awnings. The mites feed on the unfeathered nestlings, as well as the adult birds, and the large amount of nesting material used by the birds provide the mites with an ideal environment in which to thrive.

The mites have a short life cycle (approximately 7 days) and can rapidly generate large populations. When the young birds leave the nest, or die, many mites (often many tens of thousands) are left behind in the absence of a suitable host, and these will disperse from the nest into and throughout the dwelling searching for new hosts. Most mites will die within 3 weeks without a blood meal from a bird host. They will bite humans they encounter but cannot survive on humans.

 

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