Northern Fowl Mites as Invaders

The northern fowl mite is a relatively common blood-feeding parasite of birds that nest on ledges or in cavities of homes or buildings. When birds leave the nest, mites left behind will disperse in search of another host. They can enter structures through very small gaps around windows, etc. The mites will wander randomly until they detect warmth or carbon dioxide cues. These can lead them to humans. Feeding attempts leave small red spots on the skin that itch. The mites are not a health threat and are not able to live and reproduce on the blood from humans or non-avian pests. However, they can survive off a bird for several weeks.

Figure 1. Northern fowl mite (Lee Townsend, UK)

Figure 1. Northern fowl mite (Lee Townsend, UK)


The first step in controlling bird mites is to remove their nest. Often, it will be in the attic, around the eaves and rafters, or in a chimney. After removing the nest, spray the area and surroundings with a residual ant and cockroach insecticide according to label directions. A vacuum cleaner or cloth moistened with alcohol or soapy water can be used to eliminate mites crawling on indoor surfaces.


By Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist

Posted in Human Pests