UDPATED STRATEGIES FOR A BIRD MITE INFESTATION
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Posted by Tim on October 03, 2004 at 20:13:28:
Recently I had posted my story here about my two year battle with some type of bird mites from a sparrowís nest, and I wanted to update some of the strategies that I have been using to get rid of these cursed mites. Nothing has completed eradicated them, but several things have seemed to help and I wanted to let others know. These strategies may be helpful against other types of mites such as bedbugs and scabies in the environment.
One of the most important things to do is to vacuum daily. I got the Euro Pro Silent Super Shark hand held vac for getting them off my clothes and skin. It is small enough to hold and very powerful suction. The filter seems strong enough to prevent them from escaping. Whereas some vacuums with thin paperbags they can escape due to their size and sharp mouth probe (which allows them to penetrate skin to get blood). I duct tape the end of the hole after use to prevent them from escaping. Each day I vacuum the leather chair I sit in (no more clothe fabrics) as well as other frequented areas, such as the computer, etc. I no longer have any carpeting, but when I did I would vacuum frequently and afterwards put the bag in the freezer with tape on the opening until I would reuse it.
Since they are most active at night, the bedroom is a major battleground, The mattress and box spring and pillow are encased in vinyl protectors. They are wiped down nightly with a Swifter Max mop (wider style available at Walmart) that is sprayed with a solution of 50% vinegar and 50% of 91% rubbing alcohol. I also alternate and use a cleaner with bleach to spray them down. I also have to clean the bedframe. I have since gotten rid of the headboard, as it is one less thing to hassle with. This cleaning is a royal pain to do nightly but it has helped me significantly with getting a few hours sleep. I also have the legs of the bed frame wrapped with sticky fly paper so that they arenít able to crawl up from the floor. I also keep the bed away from the walls so they cannot get on the bed so easily at night. The bed linen is used only once and then put in a sealed plastic trash bag with mothballs until washed.
I have to use Mackís silicone ear plugs at night to keep them out of my ears. Once in a while I am desperate enough to use 100% Deet on my face and other areas but this is hard on the skin. The worse part is when they get in my nose and mouth when sleeping. I have recently started to wear a dog flea & tick collar around my neck at night to keep them out of my mouth. It isnít 100% effective, but has helped some. They donít like menthol, and Flexall is 16% menthol, which is the strongest I have found. I put a little on my mustache and forehead at night and this helps a lot. This can burn, so donít get it in your eyes. On nights when I really canít sleep I take an allergy relief pill that has diphenhydramine, which is a good sleep aid.
To get them out of my mouth during the day I have resorted to smoking cigars:( They donít like this and I can feel them crawling on my face, and I then use duct tape to pull them off. (I tear about a 10 inch piece of duct tape and roll it back into a circle with the sticky part out.) Some days my skin is very itchy and the Flexall helps as well as Lanacane anti-itch lotion.
Bug sprays work to some extent but they quickly become immune to most everything I have thrown at them. The pyrethrins and permethrins from the store are a waste of money, as they are too weak to be much good in the long run. The more advanced ones like cypermethrin, tralomethrin, and bifenthrin are more effective. Any thing that ends in Ďthriní is a natural or synthetic derivative of the chrysanthemum plant and is very tolerable in humans. Unfortunately, that means they can also be less effective in the long run. If you are lucky enough to eradicate them early then nothing stronger is needed. Malathion is stronger but should be used with caution. I use Sevin in a spray bottle. I bought the concentrate and mixed it down to a 1% spray solution. I have been using a Spectracide Fogger that is .09% tralomethrin, and it is helpful. Orthoís ďAnt & Roach KillerĒ also seems to be effective right now. I have heard Baygon is effective, but I havenít tried this one yet.
I tried Stromectol (oral Ivermectin) for four weekly doses. Although effective against scabies, it didnít seem to help me much. I think mainly because there are so many in the environment that donít necessarily bite when the drug is in my system.
Most things I keep are in the large ziplock bags with either mothballs or a dog collar. The active ingredient in dog collars is tetrachlorvinphos. In an open environment this will just repel them, but enclosed it will kill them. My CDís and tapes are kept in sealed bags. Also, documents and things that are kept for long periods are in sealed plastic. I got rid of all magazines and newspapers as they hide anywhere during the day.
I have recently been using Sevin 5% dust on the bare floors and I sweep it into the crevices. If I had carpeting, I would use this generously in the carpet. You would want to get a bellows duster or syringe bulb and use this to completely disperse this into the carpet. You want to wear a breathing mask and then get out of the house for a while after an application. If you have pets or children, then Sevin dust may not be an option. You can expect them to be on the walls and ceiling, and you can use the Swifter with bleach to wipe these areas down. They prefer moist areas like the bathroom, so after each shower I spray the tub and tile with a tub-tile cleaner with bleach and this helps to keep their numbers down.
I shower completely the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night before going to bed. I do this only after I have completely wiped off the mattress and box springs at night, and put all my clothes in sealed plastic bags with moth balls. If I feel them crawling in my ears I use a dropper with the 50/50 vinegar alcohol solution (which is also good for drying swimmerís ear). I have recently been using the 10% sulfer compound on my skin where I itch and this helps. (Pomoda De Azufre from Walmart).
I have Bounce fabric sheets in my socks, underwear, and shirt pocket as this helps with them from crawling in these areas. The best talc powder to use is Mexana, as it is medicated. I recently have been using an anti-itch cream by Aveeno that has Calamine in it to protect the skin and reduce the itch. They donít bite me wherever I have applied the lotion.
My clothes get worn only once and then are put in a sealed plastic bag with moth balls. The ďold fashionedĒ moth balls donít help, but the type with paradichlorobenzene is effective. I wash my clothes in very hot water and dry on high heat. Same with bed linens, and towels. I iron my clothes with a steam iron on high. I alternate wearing shoes and the unused pair get put in the freezer for a few days. My clean clothes are in Rubbermaid plastic containers with mothballs. The smell quickly dissipates and I donít smell like mothballs during the day.
Regarding carpeting, hardwood floors are better than carpeting since they are easier to clean and they canít so easily infest. Leather furniture and wooden chairs are better than clothe material for the same reason. You can easily wipe them off and vacuum. Some homes that are heavily infested should be tented with a good mticide fogger to get rid of them. There are just too many places for them to hide. The chicken mite (one variety of bird mite) can so badly infest chicken coops that the wood has to be burned. Spraying just canít control them.
I use Lysol and Clorox moistened household wipes frequently for both the furniture and for my skin. I add an ounce or two of bleach to the container also. I know they stipulate the wipes arenít for personal hygiene, but my skin seems to tolerate them fine and they help with getting them off me. When at work I keep the individual packets of anti-bacterial moist wipes with me during the day and use them when needed. They are sold in a box of 24 at stores like Walmart, Target, etc.
Mites are not able to regulate their body temperature so heat can be effective against them. I have an infrared 250 watt heat lamp that I use close to my skin. They are attracted to the red spectrum, (which was good advice by an entomologist I had been in contact with). Sometimes I will put on the IR lamp in a darkened room at night with glue strips nearby. I give it a few hours and then spray the area real good with bug spray. I also use a hot hair dryer close to my skin after a shower to get them off me.
You would think that all of this would have completed eradicated them by now, but this hasnít happened. They are tenacious and though individual ones are easy to kill they so quickly come back. I have moved several times as I travel with my work, and this has been a blessing. If I had to stay in the same house where the infestation came from I would be on psych meds by now, as it had become intolerable there. My immune system has adapted so that the bites arenít producing the inflamed red marks like they did when I first got them. Although they still are as painful and itch just as much. And the crawling sensation caused by the immature ones is a total nightmare. I also notice when I am around certain people they will start scratching or rubbing their nose frequently when I am in close proximity to them. This has made me very leary about social contacts, and this has been the worst part mentally. The lack of good info by entomologists is very frustrating. They only know what the textbooks say, that they bite but donít live off human blood. If only that were true.
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