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FYI-bird mites vs. bed bugs

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  1. oncebitten2wiceshy

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sat Jul 7 2007 11:51:47
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    Birds also are home to many arthropod parasites, such as bird mites and bird bedbugs, and when these birds live in close association with people they commonly introduce those biting mites and bugs into the building. All of these problems are not unique to these kinds of birds (pigeons, swallows,etc.), but because of their numbers and their close association with people and our homes these birds often pose the greatest health threat to us. Large gatherings of pigeons on building ledges or rooftops also may seed the structure with their mites, that methodically crawl down into the living areas or work areas, seeking other warm bodies to attack.
    I know...just one more thing to consider...but perhaps helpful.

  2. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sat Jul 7 2007 14:11:49
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    Yes, birds and bats produce a bug in the same family as bed bugs.

    And then there are bird mites which are another species entirely.

    Remember bird and bat bugs will leave similar evidence to bed bugs, but David Cain says bird mites don't leave fecal specks.

    nobugs

    This was in the thread on Seeing Bites But No Evidence of Bed Bugs:

    David,

    I was confused by your photo --the frame is entitled "bird mites," but the caption says "This page is under development and will help people identify bird bugs":
    http://www.bed-bugs.co.uk/birdmites.html

    That was probably just an error in your writing, but it might confuse others.

    My understanding from entomologist Lou Sorkin is that bird MITES are very different to bed bugs, whereas bird BUGS (aka swallow bugs) and bat bugs are very closely related to bed bugs. Bird bugs and bed bugs are true bugs, whereas bird mites are mites.

    As per this fact sheet, bird bugs (aka Swallow bugs) and bat bugs look very similar to bed bugs:
    http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05574.html

    This family tree of swallow (bird) bugs, bat bugs, and bed bugs (all family cimicidae):
    http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/1470f4a.html

    Here's a photo comparing bed bug and swallow bug:
    http://www.buginfo.com/articles/bedbugs.cfm

    See also this on bat bugs: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05574.html

    But bird mites are very different. See:

    http://medent.usyd.edu.au/fact/birdmite.html
    http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/iiin/birdmit.html
    http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/mites.htm

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  3. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sun Jul 8 2007 0:37:03
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    Hi,

    I have just updated the bird mites section of the web site to include a few more very close up pictures and a little more of the background information about the case we were dealing with.

    It is also worth noting that prior to 2007 I had only seen 2 cases of bird mites in London but this year we have seen 6 cases so far and have treated a suspected 4 others. They can be difficult to identify at times because of the lack of evidence but as my team know good pest control starts outside the property you may have to look outside of the usual areas.

    David

    In accordance with the AUP and FTC (legal requirements) I openly disclose my vested interest in Passive Monitors as the inventor and patent holder. Since 2009 they have become an integral part in how we resolve bedbug infestations in domestic and commercial settings. The patent numbers are GB2463953 and GB2470307.
  4. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sun Jul 8 2007 2:43:57
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    thanks David, that's helpful!

  5. Ru

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 3 2007 13:22:16
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    BIRDMITES.ORG is the best site i have found.

  6. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 3 2007 14:25:26
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    actually, I did not find that birdmites.org offered much information about eliminating bird mites. I got the sense from that site that they're invisible and impossible to eradicate. but what I hear from PCOs and entomologists is they can be seen and can be eliminated, just like bed bugs can.

  7. willow-the-wisp

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 3 2007 15:52:17
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    Thanks Nobugs David Lou!

    This was all so confusing to me but now I THINK I have it in all in-check.

    Since I had swallows and or falcons seagulls and pigeons--and whatever else ... all landing on the ledge .... I do think I had some of all of these. (Including roaches!)

    I am rather fastidious I feel I must add here!

    How it all happened? I heard they put up a "pigeon fence" on the roof.
    Had I heard sooner and had been made more aware?

  8. Ru

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 3 2007 16:04:55
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  9. Ru

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 3 2007 16:34:04
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    Nobugs: The entomologists who specialize in Mites are called Acarologists. There are two main species of Avian mites in North America that can cause trouble for people. One is easily eradicated in a few weeks because it is host-specific to the birds. The other, d gallinae, is also called the red fowl mite or chicken mite, adapts OR MUTATES, and can thrive and breed on mammals. It seems to be as difficult to eradicate as bedbugs, if not worse, because it is smaller and almost impossible to see.

  10. willow-the-wisp

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 3 2007 16:59:07
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    o.m.g.
    Hi Ru ...
    a little funny here:
    I hope it does not mutate! If it does then we'll have three, main, Avian Mite species in N.J --I mean in N.A. lol--as I meant to say two, main species here in North America. ... Too bad one of them even bothers adapting. Why doesn't it just f'n die of starvation like the other type does. Heck! I lost 12 lbs since I got all the bugs ...
    Looking good in a suit these days I must say--but that's mere hearsay and speculation. I tossed my only nice jacket and tie.

  11. Ru

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 3 2007 17:14:39
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    Willow, I hear ya!!! I have not eaten a decent meal in 3 weeks. Don't see much difference in the clothes fitting yet. Oh, what clothes, i've abandoned them all. Hey, i am just trying to read and learn... LT Dan told me to fight, so.... I'm trying.

    i hope i'm wrong and they all f'n die immeDIEtly.

    I'd be happy to be diagnosed Mental...... it would be easier to cure.

  12. willow-the-wisp

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 3 2007 19:38:00
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    Hi Ru ... I saw you were havng a lot of skin issues. this happens so often.... It usually fades, some ice on a bite helps. The skin FAQ is fab as are the comments!

  13. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 3 2007 19:46:07
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    Hi Ru,
    Could you please tell me which link had the information about the bird mites mutating? Thanks!

  14. Anonymous

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sat Aug 4 2007 9:42:17
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    Hey Ru, I would ask a doctor to investigate medical conditions before I thought that the only other option is, ahem, mental stress. There are a surprisingly huge number of illnesses and medications and other things that can cause bite-like reactions and symptoms. I mean huge. I was very surprised!

    Anyway, I hope the pest, whatever it is, is identified so that you can get specific, targeted treatment.

    Just don't allow yourself to despair based on personal stories you read elsewhere. The main thing is that there is a solution and it is never hopeless.

  15. Ru

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Aug 6 2007 17:00:06
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    I think i came up with the mutate angle on my own, sorry, my mistake. ADAPT is the word i am seeing everywhere. I cannot get them out of my clothing. I cannot get ahold of an entomologist. I am still freaking out. THEY ARE MICROSCOPIC.

  16. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Aug 6 2007 19:35:04
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  17. Ru

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Aug 8 2007 10:05:38
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    8-7-07 was a good day for me. At my friends house, i really think i am making progress cutting them down but have not completely eradicated them yet. Having a dog really complicates the whole thing.

    Nobugs, i did find the text that had gotten me thinking mutation. The below is from birdmites.org:

    Avian mites have demonstrated a highly flexible DNA, which allows them to quickly adapt to unfavorable conditions with each new generation. There are documented cases of certain insecticides no longer being effective in eradicating them as they once did. Research has shown that some bird mites have the ability to revert to an earlier stage to avoid being rejected by the host's immune system. A recent Michigan State University 'Pest Management Manual' states that several specifies of mite 'ectoparasites' are shown to have evolved into 'endoparasites' in the host mammals...making detection and eradication even more difficult.
    Both D.Gallinae and NFM are documented in numerous research journals as being a nuisance pest on many species of birds and various mammals, including humans. It has become quite clear that bird mites are no longer host specific, and have adapted very well to a changing environment (as mites tend to do).

  18. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Aug 8 2007 12:18:20
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    Ru,

    Birdmites dot org is not a scientific source, and they are not giving the full citation for the information provided. If it is online, they should link to it. If not, they should tell you the full name of the source, the author, and page number.

    Bird mites do bite people in the absence of a bird host, but as far as living literally on people, I do not think that is true.

  19. Ru

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Thu Aug 9 2007 12:26:40
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    Bird Mites do travel with you quite easily in your clothing and can infest your car, sofa, computer chair, work chair, etc. I have heard that the water temp needed to kill them is over 140 degrees F. I've been having an extremely difficult time getting them out of cotton clothing. Bleach, borax, fabric softener, are all supposed to help, but haven't done too much for me. The next thing i am going to try is the enzymatic cleaner.

  20. Anonymous

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Thu Aug 9 2007 13:36:34
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    Hi Ru,

    Everything that I've read suggests that hot water laundering will kill mites in clothing, like this pest newsletter note from Dr. Michael Potter.

    I suggest that you wash in hot and dry in hot for a suitably long time. (A good 20 or 30 minutes past when everything is really, really dry. More if you want to be extra sure.)

    I will have more to say about birdmites.org later. I spent some time reading the site yesterday (thanks NYC MTA) and I found myself so very depressed. After that, I was very, very angry. It's unconscionable, really. I would really hope that you could see a way to stop reading it.

    No wonder you have been freaking out, Ru. Hang in there.

  21. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 10 2007 1:52:34
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    Ru,
    I was making a distinction between bird mites living on you, vs. bird mites being carried somewhere and reinfesting a new space. What you describe--moving them to new locations-- sounds plausible, since it's exactly what happens with bed bugs.
    But it is not the same as having bird mites LIVING ON your person.
    You need a PCO to get rid of the bird mites. They will have to come back presumably at intervals (they should know more, this is not our area of expertise). But I believe they can get rid of them. And the laundering and bagging of clothes that we use with bed bugs should help.

  22. Anonymous

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 10 2007 18:38:48
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    OK, a day late, but here are my thoughts on birdmites.org.

    I remember reading it when I first suspected bedbugs and was trying to eliminate other things. I cannot forget how much it scared me then but, luckily, I moved on. Now I have forced myself to read it again. Part of what confounds the reader of that site is that a lot of the information is plausible and reasonable. Some recommendations are sound and some of the biology notes are equally sound. Mixed in with this, however, are very alarming statements and decidedly wrongheaded recommendations. At first glance, then, you might think that you have found a trustworthy repository of knowledge and support for bird mites sufferers. But you would be wrong.

    The first thing that you'll notice is that the administrator(s) of the site do not cite their information (as in the excerpt Ru shared above). There are repeated references to a study that showed this or that, but there is no link, and no other reference information. The site has a Research page listing various research articles. On that page, one of the references is as follows:

    TITLE: (unknown)

    ABSTRACT/SUMMARY: Entomology research article which demonstrated that D. Gallinae was able to revert to an earlier morphological state in order to not be rejected by the hosts immune system.

    IMPLICATIONS: Shows the amount of variability in bird mites and their ability to adapt to different hosts in order to survive. This could possibly explain why those afflicted for many years are not able to see the parasite, as they remain in an earlier state and are much smaller, though more insidious.

    Title unknown, publication unknown. Something is seriously wrong here. But it makes sense in this way: this premise, wholly unsupported, is the key to understanding birdmites.org. The administrator pretty much tells you upfront that this is what they believe:

    Birdmites.org fully supports the premise that parasitic bird mites can adapt and live in the human environment when the original avian host is no longer viable. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to support this from those who have been afflicted for many years, long after the original source of infestation was identified and removed.

    Can this be possible? What about the site's real stories of people suffering from bird mites? Extremely scary. Someone fighting for 4 years. Another person writing about having not only a bird mite problem but also seeing fibers on the skin and suspecting Morgellons disease. The administrator's response?

    Although not common, there have been reports from some that what was initially a bird mite parasite problem, has become what is called Morgellons. With symptoms of stinging fibers, intense itching, skin lesions, and testing positive for Lyme Disease. It is quite possible that bird mites are a vector in some people, especially if there is a weakened immune system.

    Are you freaking out already? Because I know I am.

    Bird mites infesting people for years and years? Bird mites as vectors for Morgellons disease?

    The remedies shared on this site are appalling! Using "a q-tip dipped into straight Clorox" directly on the bites is not even the worst one! The absolutely most horrible one I found there? Someone writing that "Mobil 1 fully synthetic motor oil" applied to the skin twice a day is an effective remedy. I'll spare you the administrator's response; you can go read it yourself if you are brave enough.

    I'll split this into a couple of posts so as not to tax your attention. (I'll post what reputable sources actually have to say about bird mites.)

  23. Anonymous

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 10 2007 19:43:42
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    The following was written by T. (who may be the admin--it's difficult to tell) on the site's Bird Mite Nightmare! page:

    After about a year of this, I finally realized these aren't just skin parasites, content to bite and crawl on the host. They seemed to be in my mouth and sinus cavity, and other places as much as being on my skin. [...] Maybe the mature female sometimes places the eggs in the host mammal to incubate and to assure that they will survive? Who knows?

    Well, in the middle of all my reading and 47+ open browser tabs, I got lucky and found some help to figure this out from a surprising source: Australian medical entomologist and Bedbugger favorite Stephen L. Doggett. (No, I am not a Doggett groupie, although I know it must seem that way sometimes.) So, instead of citing the multiple US fact sheets and articles about bird mites, I will rely on Doggett as a kind of shorthand so you can stop reading my lengthy post sometime soon.

    One of the articles listed on birdmite.org's Research page is Human infestation with bird mites in Wollongong. The author discusses his own bird mite infestation in a communicable diseases journal in Australia.

    For a lay reader like me it appears unobjectionable.

    Not so to Doggett and colleague Merilyn Geary who, in this Letter to the Editor, proceed to release me from internet prison. The letter is interesting in several ways, but I will just quote what was most interesting to me:

    In fact, bird mites are a commonly treated pest in many Australian cities.

    The author indicated that treatment was with Lyclear, a permethrin based cream. This is confusing, as it is not clear if he meant that the bites were treated with Lyclear, or was he suggesting that the bird mites need to be treated on the skin, despite the fact that they do not persist on or burrow into the skin? Alternatively, is the author suggesting the use of Permethrin as a toxicant to provide a 'barrier' and further prevent bites? If it is the latter, than the product should be advocated as a preventative and not a 'treatment'. Either way, the immediate removal of the bird nesting material and the prevention of access to roosting spaces, and then the surface treatment of the immediate and surrounding area with an approved insecticide, should be the main strategy employed to control the mite. Applying either a toxicant (e.g. permethrin) or a repellent (such as DEET) is rarely required and not usually recommended. Humans should never be treated with insecticides as the contact between the mite and human is purely temporary and incidental, and the infestation is self-limiting once the source of the mites has been found and eliminated.

    The author is justified in raising the issue of bird mites causing urticarial problems for humans in Australia, as they are a commonly encountered arthropod pest, particularly during the spring/summer months. However, misidentification of this group is also common, as mite taxonomy is extremely complex. [...] Additionally, 'misidentification' of the cause of urticarial complaints, in situations with or without obvious commensal bird or rodent association, is an issue that can lead to inappropriate and ineffective management advice.

    Bold emphasis added.

    I can cite the other fact sheets and articles which (without exception!) state that bird mites do not remain long on human skin, do not burrow or live under the skin and are definitely controllable. But this is long enough for today.

    What depresses me most is that it's possible that for some people the physical suffering of bird mites (the combination of bites and crawling sensations and feeling under attack) may be worse than what we suffer from bedbugs, if that is possible to imagine. (Not only are they hard to see, apparently they also do something called "test biting.") To think of people suffering like that and falling into the fear-mongering of birdmites.org and there LOSING ALL HOPE makes me very angry.

  24. Bugalina

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 10 2007 20:29:18
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    I would have never imagined such a thing...prior to bed bugs and learning things on this Blog I LOVED it when birds would nest around my house....Years ago I had barn swallows come every Spring and nest right next to the side/top ledge of my front door...I would watch them build the nest, sit on the eggs and then feed the chirping babies and then came the sad inevitability of the "empty nest". I used to get so sad when the mother bird would come back to the nest waiting...but the babies never returned after they learned to fly......I would never do this again..

  25. Nobugsonme

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    Sat Aug 11 2007 2:07:44
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    That bird mites can adapt and live in the human environment (ie inside the home) without the bird, does not seem to be in question. But this is far, far different from them living on the skin or burrowing under skin.

    Hopelessnomo, your analysis was rigorous and I agree with your assessment. I think many of us explore the possibility of bird mites when we first are experiencing bites and don't know the source. I too looked at birdmites dot org and it terrified me. But I also picked up on the same things you did--the lack of reliable sources, the mention of possible conditions being experienced concurrently, the suggestions of causality where no evidence or proof is given. I too was upset by what the site was offering sufferers.

    There is still another site out there that I have similar concerns about but won't link here. In it, people suffering from "unseen biting mites" are told to mix tea tree oil and DE and sleep in it. This can do horrid things to your skin--drying it out tremendously is going to happen in short order. Dry skin plus whatever was causing your problem in the first place is a nightmare. DE can also irritate your skin. Bird mites and other pests that do not live on our bodies need to be treated--by pest control folks who are good enough and skilled enough to ID them.

    As the letter from Stephen Doggett that Nomo cites above says,

    ... misidentification of this group [bird mites] is also common, as mite taxonomy is extremely complex. To suggest that they can be 'recognised with the aid of an identification key and a low power microscope' is a gross over-simplification. There are numerous species associated with other vertebrate hosts that have been reported attacking humans, and these are in related mite families and many are morphologically almost identical to Ornithonyssus species; hence specialist entomologists should be used to confirm any putative identification. Additionally, 'misidentification' of the cause of urticarial complaints, in situations with or without obvious commensal bird or rodent association, is an issue that can lead to inappropriate and ineffective management advice.

    This says that even PCOs may not be able to distinguish one bird mite species (and its required treatment protocol) from another bird mite species. "Specialist entomologists should be used to confirm any putative identification."

    Here's what I know: most good PCOs have a connection to an entomologist they can consult with such queries. S/he may not be enough of a specialist on bird mites to ID the specific type. But they should surely know who is. Lou Sorkin of the AMNH in NYC often invites people to send him samples (and I can give you his email).

    The other thing Doggett emphasizes is that you can SEE bird mites. They are small but not invisible. In time one should be able to lift one off skin with some clear tape for ID purposes. Treatment should not be attempted until your PCO knows for sure what is biting.

  26. Anonymous

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sat Aug 11 2007 12:32:43
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    Hi Nobugs, thanks.

    The other thing is that bird mite infestations (unlike bedbugs!) are always referred to as self-limiting, meaning that once the avian source has been found and eliminated, the mites will eventually die. (How quickly they may die is another issue that is species-specific and therefore a PCO who says they don't have to come to your home at all is not being helpful because the bites are apparently hellish and you do want to get rid of them quickly!) But whatever the length of time mites can live without an avian host, it is almost certain that it cannot be years, like this site clearly believes.

    In order to explain why the admin or the sufferers still have bird mite infestations after such a long time, specifically after eliminating the source, birdmitesdotorg naturally has to reach for implausible and unsupported theories like that stuff about bird mites capable of becoming endoparasites and "thriving" in humans.

    Further, a site that encourages sufferers to be distrustful of doctors and entomologists reinforces a belief that a) they are alone and no one can help them, and b) there is no hope. The motor oil probably starts to look good at that point.

    It would be unfair and beyond my abilities to speculate about what is ailing people who suffer so long and so severely, there are so many possibilities, but it is probably not bird mites.

  27. Nobugsonme

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    Sat Aug 11 2007 12:42:59
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    Thanks Nomo. I appreciate your shedding light on the "living in the human environment" factor.

    No one with an insect infestation is alone. PCO and entomologists can be found who will make it go away. If the cause is something else, there is also treatment.

  28. Ru

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    Mon Aug 13 2007 11:26:27
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    It would seem i might be having some success in this bird mite war. I feel sorry for anyone that gets them, because you have to be as aggressive and tenacious as they are, soon as you know what you are dealing with, and as you would be with bedbugs.... if not, i do think it could go on for many months or indefinitely!!! Personally, i feel Bird Mites are the worst bug nightmare out there. I think they are very similar to Bedbugs and they are hard to get rid of. The added factor is they are very hard to see. The only ones you ever really see are dead ones.

    So: i have lived with a friend for 2 weeks+, where i slept isolated on an air mattress i routinely wiped down with bleach/water, and bagged laundry the way bedbuggers do. I denied them a blood meal at my house, and am just now going back into it, to clean up after the PCO's treatment, my landlord's treatment, and my own spraying and bombing! Sweeping the floor looked like salt and pepper..... Mopping was even more interesting. The mop water from my bedroom {hardwood floors} had thousands of dead, blood engorged s.o.b's. In my fight, i have taken many a bath where the bath water was quite similar. I have rubbed myself down, and my dog, with baby oil to get them off my skin and hair. Epsom salts and bath oil worked well in the bathtub. I used a laundromat for high hot wash and dry with absolute disaster --it did not kill them. Borax, fabric softener, colorsafe bleach did little or nothing. Went back to my house and turned my water heater up to it's hottest setting and combined that with enzymatic cleaners, now i am having success getting them out of my clothing.

    I covered my mattress with a kmart vinyl encasement and duct taped the zipper. I may be sleeping on it as soon as tonight. {I am most worried about the sofa.} I am not saying they are endoparasites, but they DO travel with you and on you -- like head lice or crab lice would, and probably feel about the same? But since i've never had human lice i can only guess. It's a f'in nightmare-- but i am having some success now, and i am hopeful i can conquer the little bastards. They have fully taken away a month of my life... and some money... but hopefully not much more.

  29. Saltysusan

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    Mon Aug 13 2007 12:23:07
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    So, am I to gather that most folks here don't like the birdmites dot org website? Cause after reading that stuff I just wanna go jump off a cliff. And there is contradictory info there - on one page they suggest using Diatomaceous Earth only outside the home as it can irritate the lungs; but in another place it recommends using it in the carpet. And sleeping with fungicide around your nose?? And with swimming goggles on? Sounds a little extreme to me but then I've only been dealing with this for a couple of weeks.

  30. Anonymous

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Aug 13 2007 12:31:02
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    Susan, please, no!

    The first step is to identify what is biting you, if something is biting you. (It could be a skin condition.)

    Don't even go to birdmitesdogorg -- I'm dead serious! It will depress you; it won't help you; and your head will spin for hours, if not days.

  31. Saltysusan

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Aug 13 2007 13:18:27
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    Thanks again, hopelessnomo. You are very thoughtful and seem to have a level head about this - I appreciate your approach. I have an appt with my allergist this afternoon - when I described the bites they offered to get me right in. And, the girl on the phone said 2 of them in the office have experienced mysterious bites recently that sound like mine. We have had 3 weeks of HOT HUMID weather without relief in the Chicago area, so all bug populations are probably thriving like never before. Will keep you posted...

  32. Saltysusan

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    So, saw the doctor, and she's not sure what it is, but she had them, too, about a week ago, after being at an outdor wedding. She said they have been getting tons of calls and seeing lots of people with mysterious VERY ITCHY bites. The dermatologist in the building said the same thing - lots of calls/visits about these mysterious bites. So she prescribed a steriod topical cream, and if that does not help will get me in with the dermatologist. She said she's going to research this and talk with colleagues - I suggested she consult an entomolgist as well, since this seems to be a common complaint. Something out there has proliferated in this hot, humid weather. And, since I learned from this very helfpul site that a PCO will not treat without evidence, I can't really go that route right now anyway. I will dilligently watch for signs of infestation, treat the bites with the cream, and see where it all goes. Thanks so much to everyone for your support and suggestions. I wish you all well in your battles.

  33. Nobugsonme

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    Mon Aug 13 2007 23:35:01
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    Saltysusan,

    Chicago has a known bed bug epidemic, like many other US cities at this time.

    PCOs need evidence to treat, but they are skilled in LOOKING for it. If you have bed bugs, you may not find them as easily as a PCO, ditto bird mites. You should find one that does a free inspection. Several Chicago folks have used Smithereen when they had bed bugs.

    Also, read the FAQ "Photos of bed bugs and signs of bed bugs"
    http://bedbugger.com/photos-of-bed-bugs-and-signs-of-bed-bugs/

    You really need to inspect your home, and have a PCO do so as well.

    Waiting can make things worse.

  34. Saltysusan

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    Thanks, Nobugs. I did read the FAQ "Photos of bed bugs and signs of bed bugs" this past weekend, but I have nothing at all, no staining, no blood spots, and no cast skins. When I went to the pharmacy to get my prescription, the pharmacist asked me if I was getting treated for "those bug bites everyone is getting." I said yes and asked if she knew what it was, and she said they had reported on the news that the IL Dept of Public Health thinks it's probably an itch mite outbreak (they are apparently setting some traps to try and catch some of these boogers because the complaints have been so numerous). In my research this weekend, I had come across info on an itch mite outbreak in NE in 2004, but quickly dismissed it because I hadn't heard of numerous people being bitten (until yesterday). Also, while I have been waking up with bites, I have also noticed them develop during the day, and have awakened with bites after napping on my couch. From what I've read here, I believe very fully that if I have bed bugs on my couch and in my room, then I have a large enough infestation that I would see some evidence. Nevertheless, if I can get a free inspection, I will have one, but I am 99.9% confident that I have discovered my problem. But this website has extremely helpful in figuring things out and I am very thankful for the info I have learned (if nothing else, it has taught me to be more diligent about checking beds in hotels for signs before we stay!). Here's a link to the article about the itch mites: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-bugbitesaug14,1,1802912.story?coll=chi_tab01_layout I live in DuPage county and spend ~ 30 minutes to an hour on a wooded trail running nearly everyday. This also explains why my family isn't being bitten - it's been so hot my lazy teenagers haven't been outside much, and my husband has been out of town.

  35. willow-the-wisp

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    Thanks salty--I hope you DID find the problem and that the resolution will be swift and 100%, yet I have to say that the way you described your bites initially, did sound more like bed bugs or a from of prickly heat. perahps not run on that trail--I know it goes without saying right?
    Will

  36. Saltysusan

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    Thanks, willow. Yes, I am positive that I have found my culprit...as I said I had suspected this mite when I internet-searched this weekend, but dismissed it because I didn't know anyone else with this condition (I had found pix of the bites and they looked EXACTLY like mine). Now, I have talked to TONS of people with the same deal. This is apparently a new critter introduced from Europe somehow...unfortunately, the "resolution" will not be swift, as I believe these stinkers will be around until the first freeze. Can't avoid the outside all that time! I did purchase some "sweatproof" Off insect repellant - they say anything with DEET is supposed to deter them. I have some steroid cream which helps, but really only takes the edge off. However, I will take these pests in a heartbeat over bedbugs - what you all have struggled through is nothing short of mind boggling. Every one of you is an inspiration to mankind about sucking it up and dealing with what life sends you - I cannot fathom the tedium of the washing, bagging, vacuuming, searching; let alone the expense and loss of personal belongings. And sleepless nights in the midst of it all! My heart aches for you! I had to treat for lice once when some kids who had it came over and played at our house - I thought THAT was a pain and we didn't actually come down with it. One round of treatment and washing and we were done. I cannot imagine having to do what you all have done. I have thanked God (literally) several times now that this is not bed bugs or some type of mites that infest the home. I will say a special prayer for my BB-afflicted friends - you are all truly amazing!

  37. Nobugsonme

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    "Also, while I have been waking up with bites, I have also noticed them develop during the day, and have awakened with bites after napping on my couch. From what I've read here, I believe very fully that if I have bed bugs on my couch and in my room, then I have a large enough infestation that I would see some evidence."

    Saltysusan,

    I hope you are right about the itch mites, but for what it's worth, the above statement is not true, in my experience and that of many others.

    You should know that many of us are bitten by bed bugs for months and months in our beds and on our sofas and chairs (in daytime) and do not see signs of bed bugs. It can take a while to become visible. Even PCOs have had trouble finding bed bugs in apartments they knew to be infested.

    I would not rule them out, as you pursue the other diagnosis, keep this in the back of your mind. Since the article you linked states that itch mites only bite in the Chicagoland forest preserves, and since the bites only last up to 2 weeks, you will know soon, if your bites continue to occur, that you have another issue. I hope it's the itch mites! I just blogged about this to alert others, since there may be other Chicago folks with that issue, thinking they have bed bugs.

    As I said in the blog post, though, some of them WILL have bed bugs.

  38. Saltysusan

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    Thu Aug 16 2007 22:18:47
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    Thanks, Nobugs for posting the info about the "itch mite" (more specifically the "oak leaf gall mite") infestation in the Chicago area. Unfortunately, you indicate that it is a problem limited to the forest preserves, which is not true. These guys inhabit oak trees - anywhere there are oak trees, you can find them. So, visiting a forest preserve is not required to get bitten AND avoiding forest preserves does not prevent you from being bitten. They apparently drop from the trees when their usual source of food runs out (midge larva), and then they can drop on unsuspecting passers-by or be carried some distance by the wind. And it looks like they are here to stay until the first frost or even hard freeze. The Nebraska/Kansas/Texas/Missouri outbreak of 2004 shows people being afflicted from mid-August to as late as Dec 7! So, while I whole-heartedly agree that some folks here in Chicagoland will no doubt chalk what is actually bedbug bites up to these mites, bites lasting longer than 10-14 days does not mean it's not the mites, either. I think initially they were most abundant in the forest preserves, but at this point they are everywhere, and this phenomenon is being reported from southern Wisconsin all around the south end of Lake Michigan into southern Michigan. And while they don't burrow into people (they way scabies do), they can remain on clothing for several days, so if you wear something outside one day, then wear it again before washing it, you can receive bites even if you don't go outside. Still not as bad as bedbugs, but certainly no walk in the park. And if you leave your windows open, they can blow in through the screens. Officials are recommending using insect spray with DEET, but some reports indicate that it is not effective, and my own personal experience is that it doesn't deter them one bit. Maybe I should start my own website dedicated to the mite...Nah! It looks like WAY too much work!

  39. Nobugsonme

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    Saltysusan,
    I was just using the information from the article cited. Thanks for clarifying that further.

    However, not to be alarmist, but I am not sure how you can be sure you don't have bed bugs. As I said, many people DO have bed bugs and do not see them, or signs of them, for a while.

  40. Saltysusan

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    Well, I don't suppose I can ever be 100% sure that it's not BBs if I don't see any evidence. But, I ended up here, thinking it was bedbugs, by process of elimination. Bedbugs were the closet thing. But even then, some things didn't quite fit - like the fact that bites are popping up on me all day. The two times I noticed bites after napping on the couch, my son had been playing video games on the couch at the same time, and what I read indicates the slightest vibration sends the bugs scurrying. He was up and down and bouncing all over the place, so it would have to have been a very desperate bedbug one more than one occasion. Certainly not enough to rule them out, but just doesn't quite fit. Also, more than half of my bites are in places where I am covered by my PJ's - everyone else seems to be bitten on arms & legs, and literature says BBs usually go for bare skin. Four of my bites are under the elastic line of my underwear! So, the bug would have had to crawl up my pants, then dig under my underwear, when my bare arms were right there?? Again, can't definitively say it's not BBs, but doesn't quite fit. Also, I know everyone's bites are not exactly the same, but nobody's bedbug bites look like what I've got. The only thing I found anywhere that looked like mine was the info on the itch mite outbreak in NE/TX/KS/MO in 2004, but I initially dismissed that because I thought I was the only one suffering. Then the next day I hear hundreds of people have this condition that looks exactly like mine?? It fits perfectly, and makes perfect sense. The 10-16 hour window of bite to eruption fits with my outdoor activity level. I guess there's no reason to believe it's anything other than the mite. Plus, I live in a single family home, which I know does not make me immune by any means, but I am only exposed to what we might bring in, not what the people who share walls with me might bring in as well. I would have been completely satisfied with the itch mite explanation last Sunday when I started poking around on the internet if I had known lots of other people were having probkems as well. Everything about it fits, whereas my specifics didn't quite fit with the "MO" of a BB situation, it was just the closest thing given the facts I had at the time.

  41. Nobugsonme

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    Fri Aug 17 2007 17:30:18
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    Susan,
    It sounds like you have likely found your culprit.
    (I was often bitten under clothing and many others are too, I am not arguing with your diagnosis, just clarifying that a lot of the literature is wrong about that!)
    Good luck and I hope it is over for you soon.

  42. Ru

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    Sat Aug 18 2007 10:39:51
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    I have two excellent PDF's i'd like to share on this site. Is there a way to upload them or email them to the admin? One is a chapter out of an unknown PCO text book that covers many types of blood parasites, The other is strictly about Rat and Fowl mites!

  43. Nobugsonme

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    Sat Aug 18 2007 13:46:21
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    Ru,
    Can you post a link to them (warning people they are PDFs)?
    I have to pay for the amount of space used here, so I don't normally upload PDFs. But am happy to link to them.

  44. Ru

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    Sat Aug 18 2007 14:10:14
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    ok, i re-found the link for the mite PDF. It's a good article but obviously not based on any kind of personal experience, or research in an infested home.

    My own personal experience, would add: Mites are NOT easily seen as many so-called-experts want to say. The only way i could get them off me: soaking in epsom salt baths after diligent applications of baby oil or enzyme based nit remover -- and it had to be repeated many times because they were still in my environment. Soaking your fabrics in enzyme cleaning product and washing and drying on super hot (water heater must be turned up to a high hot setting) is the only way to get them out. They do not simply "go away" when the animal/bird host is eliminated. They thrive and multiply on a human or dog. But if you eliminate any and all blood meals for one generation and douse your living space with a combination of chemicals, (i hired a PCO) You'll see the light at the end of the tunnel of horrors.

    http://www.lapublichealth.org/eh/progs/consumer/vectman/vcdocs/mites.pdf

  45. Ru

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  46. Nobugsonme

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    What's scary about that LA Public Health PDF on rat and fowl mites, is that it tells people to use their own foggers to treat them. I don't know if this is a good idea. I suppose they did their research. But here's the thing: some people are bound to suspect rat or fowl mites, but actually have bed bugs. And if someone does have bed bugs, using a bomb/fogger is a bad idea. (There are some classes of foggers PCOs use which are exceptions, used a certain way.)

  47. Nobugsonme

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    Ru
    Perhaps you do not have rat or fowl mites, since the PDF describes them as visible to the eye.

  48. Ru

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    Here's the wierd thing about visibility: When i had a live, active infestation, i could not see or find the mites. I worked very hard to collect samples but it was not easy. What i gathered at that time was too damaged to easily identify, and EXTREMELY SMALL. Visible if you have extremely good eyes perhaps, and excellent lighting. When they are alive they move extremely fast. After the PCO's treatment and me leaving the building for 2 weeks, when i came back to clean, i found BILLIONS of them dead. I am preparing a group of samples to send to Lou Sorkin this weekend. So i'll have a definitive answer soon. AND, i do feel like i may be out of the woods with this problem, more than 3 nights without bites, and i feel pretty happy.

  49. Ru

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    PS You really need a microscope to see them. I used a 10x loupe and it helped but stronger magnification is really needed to truly see them. Anything else and you are looking at something that resembles a mangled skin flake or speck of pepper. One of the online images of a nymph bedbug cast skin seemed awfully close to one that i found. I feel really bad for the people out there who were diagnosed mental, and really had mites, because i understand how that could happen. Aside from being bitten like that which will make you feel like you are losing it anyway. I had one particular moment in the shower after weeks of this sh*t happening, where i almost went out of my head.

  50. Nobugsonme

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    It sounds like a nightmare, Ru. It will be wonderful when you have a specific ID.

    Many of us with bed bugs also do not see any bugs for a very long time. PCOs and partners often treat such Bedbuggers as if they have delusional parasitosis.

  51. Ru

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    Today i found a new ! excellent reference on one of the bird mite species, d. Gallinae.

    http://www.cdfound.to.it/HTML/ecto_4.htm

  52. Ru

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    Another reference.

    From this page:

    http://www.cvm.okstate.edu/instruction/kocan/vpar5333/533ot3aa.htm

    Dermanyssus gallinae - (red mite of poultry - above) - This mite commonly feed on birds only at night. Cats and dogs may also become infested as a result of contact with poultry. In poultry, irritation and anemia are common, often resulting in poor weight gains, low egg production, etc. Mites can live for months off the host and as such, direct contact is not necessary for the spread of this infestation.

  53. Ru

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    hmm

    Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg., 7(6), 1958, pp. 627-629
    Copyright © 1958 by The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

    ABSTRACT

    An Infestation of a Human Habitation by Dermanyssus Gallinae (Degeer, 1778)
    (Acarina: Dermanyssidae) in New York City Resulting in Sanguisugent Attacks
    upon the Occupants

    Roger W. Williams
    School of Public Health and Administrative Medicine, Columbia University

    Although a marked clinical dermatitis is common in some individuals that become closely associated with the bird mite, Dermanyssus gallinae, the literature presents little evidence that this mite will ingest human blood and many investigators feel that this species will never ingest it. The invasion of a New York City apartment by these mites resulting in attacks on the occupants is described. The finding of mammalian erythrocytes in the digestive tract of mites collected from this apartment, some of which were taken from the bed of the occupants, as well as the appearance of fresh blood splotches on the bed sheets resulting from crushed mites which had recently fed, offer some factual evidence that D. gallinae may, on occasion at least, partake of human blood.

  54. Ru

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  55. Ru

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    Lou Sorkin could not find any bird mites in the samples i sent him. He did find Anthrenus beetles, and i know i saw a few of those, dead, at windows, but it was my understanding these beetles are large enough to see without a lot of magnification??

    With all of the searching i have done, i've never seen a single beetle larvae, and i still don't think this could explain the bites i have had on my scalp: in the middle of my hair, and at my hairline, and scattered all over my torso, under my arms, at my neck, and even in the crotch area. These were very itchy, and definitely not zits.

    So i'm completely baffled now.

  56. Anonymous

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    Hi Ru,

    I'm sorry that you are in this confusing situation. Are you getting new bites in your opinion? If you think that you are (and you are not just experiencing the itchy aftermath of your infestation, i.e. old bites that still flare up), then you should a) call your PCO to request a follow-up inspection and treatment, and b) consult your doctor again.

    While it is possible to have a biting pest in your home that you fail to collect in a sample (meaning, the samples you sent Lou are not bird mites but you did have bird mites in your home, just not anymore), what may be happening here is a continued allergic reaction to the bites, or an allergic reaction to other insects in your home. There is something called chitin hypersensitivity where people react to insect parts or residue, even if said insects are already dead and not biting. (I mean insects, not mites, since, again, I don't know much about mites.) There are many other possibilities, but my strong hunch is that your skin is still suffering from the assault, so to speak, of mite bites and has not had a chance to heal. Your doctor or a good dermatologist may be able to help in that regard.

    However, consulting the PCO will alleviate your fears if you think you still have them. (I would call the PCO right away if it were me.)

    I hope this helps and we are here for you, of course. I will think good thoughts and hope that this is all over for you soon.

  57. wtm

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    What you need to know about birdmites.org, is that most of the people that are posting are at their wits end with these bugs, have tried everything they can think of to get rid of them, and are grasping at straws !!! This is where me and RU is at !!!

    I got my bugs from my cat one night, jumped on the bed, swiped it's tail across my face. Within seconds it felt like an army was invading my face, then I could feel it slowly going down my neck and to my chest. In the morning, I had big red pimples on my skin. They look like zits, but are hard on the top.
    Larger ones look like skin tags, but are hard on top.
    These bugs ONLY seem to infest the "males" in our family, as my son picked them up, and the "females" don't seem to get them. I suspect they are "Bird Mites" or D. Gallinae.

    I have been to my MD, to no avail, to 2 Dermatologists. The 2nd one finally gave my more Ivermictin to help get rid of the large "zits" (borings) that I had in my groin area.

    I have them in my hair, they bury into the hair follicles, and come out at night. There are then little "zits" in the morning, and the babies come out and crawl all over my face during the day. This has made me shave all the hair off my head to get to them easier.

    I can NOT get rid of them !!! I have tried all sorts of creams, lotions, oils, etc.
    I have been able to keep them on my head and off the rest of my body by wearing a shower cap at night. (just don't cover your ears, or they will go into them).

    Permithrin does not kill them, except for some of the babies.

    Ivermictin does kill them, but ONLY if they have bored into the skin. It will NOT kill any of their eggs.
    I am now taking "Horse" Ivermictin (cheap at a local feed store) and it is keeping any large borings from getting worse, and is killing those that have bored into my skin.

    You MUST cover your bed, mattresses, and couches in plastic, use a plastic blow up pillow (Walmart has both), quit using ANY cotton clothes or linens, as they thrive in it. You can NOT get cotton clean, even using hot water, heat from the oven, microwave oven, borax or bleach. You need to use Polyester, or silk clothing, as they can not get between the fabric easily. And hot water and borax then cleans them out. Wash bed clothes, and night clothes DAILY !!!! Lysol and clean any leather couches. Wash the floors with bleach or ammonia.

    These bugs can "jump" and bite !!!! They are microscopic, and I can only see them in the reflection on water in the toilet, or in the bath tub. I have not been able to get a sample to send away to see what they are ??

    What works: (temporarily) tea tree oil, neem oil (full strength), sulfur soap (cleaning body), Arm and Hammer borax, Arm and Hammer laundry soap (derm. tested), bleach, ammonia, lysol, Ivermictin, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, witch hazel, DE (takes several days to work).

    What does not work: anything permanently !!! (Open for any suggestions !!!!)

    Until, I can get them out of my scalp, I will not be able to get rid of them from my body !!!!

    These bugs are becoming more common, and now infecting people !!!

  58. NewBlood

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    Holy crap wtm! I feel so terrible for you! I thought I have it bad because I believe I have bed bugs but these bird mite things sound horrendous! God... please let me have bed bugs and not bird mites. Please please please let it just be bed bugs!


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