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What Are Black Pepper Mites?
Black pepper mites, also known as bird mites or chicken mites, are commonly overlooked pests in many homes around the world. That’s probably because they aren’t necessarily a human parasite, which implies that they can survive without human blood. In fact, these parasites hardly ever cross paths with humans even if they happen to live in the same compound.
Bird mites primarily live in the nests of animals like birds and rodents, where they feed on their hosts’ blood. They’re considered ectoparasites – parasites that live outside of the host.
But while black pepper mites do not consider humans as their primary host, these parasites can still turn into a huge menace if allowed to breed freely. And if anything happens that causes them to leave their natural nests, such as the migration of their hosts, bird mites may invade our living space and begin to wreak havoc.
Chicken mites won’t burrow into your skin to suck your blood. But they can still inflict vicious bites and leave your skin itchy. For people with sensitive skin, bird mite bites might degenerate into a full-blown skin condition.
Therefore, it’s important to get rid of black pepper mites from your home before they can become a menace to you and other members of your household. And the good news is, bird mites are fairly easy to remove.
Read on for more insights into black pepper mites and how you can eliminate these pesky parasites from your home for good.
How to Eliminate Black Pepper Mites From Your Home
1. Know How to Identify Them
The first step in getting rid of black pepper mites from your home is to understand how to recognize these parasites.
Note that chicken mites can be so tiny and difficult to spot. Even when fully grown, bird mites only measure around 1 millimeter (mm). Many times, they’re far smaller than that. So, you’ll need to proceed with some diligence to spot these irritating parasites.
In terms of physical appearance, black pepper mites have a white or grayish oval body. Their bodies may develop a reddish tint after feeding, for obvious reasons. Bird mites are also noted for their hairy back and eight legs.
Now, black pepper mites are often confused with bedbugs. That’s mainly because they both feed on blood, are nocturnal, live in homes, and can sport a reddish or brown color at times. However, these ectoparasites have fundamental differences.
For starters, bird mites are usually less than 1 mm large while bedbugs can measure between 4 and 7 mm.
Overall life cycle is another key difference between chicken mites and bedbugs.
Bird mites typically have a 7-day life cycle while bedbugs can have up to a 5- – 6-week life cycle.
2. Know Where to Find Them
Black pepper mites typically originate from domestic birds, such as chickens, sparrows, pigeons, starlings, ducks, geese, and turkey. They may also live near the nests of migratory birds.
In addition to birds, chicken mites also tend to live around rodents like rats, mice, and hamsters. Ideally, these nests can be anywhere, including in the rafters, gutters, eaves, high up in the trees, or in underground burrows.
As we already mentioned, bird mites feed on the blood of their hosts. And as with all blood-sucking parasites, chicken mites depend on blood to complete their one-week life cycle (egg – larva – nymph – adult). Some black pepper mites die almost immediately after completing their seven-day life cycle. However, others can live for a few more weeks.
The most important thing to note here is that bird mites may not always be found in their natural habitats. A disruption in their routine, such as the death or migration of their hosts, may see them move closer to your house.
So, when conducting a search for bird mites, it’s best to be thorough.
3. Know When They Are Most Active
Black pepper mites are mostly nocturnal – active at night. Obviously, that’s because the vast majority of their hosts happen to be diurnal – active during the day.
Chicken mites prefer to stay calm during the day while their hosts are active and feeding. They then come alive at night when their hosts are now full and probably too sleepy to know what bit them.
Therefore, the best time to perform a bird mite search is at night.
Also, black pepper mites prefer warmer to cooler climates. Their activity tends to peak during the warmer months of spring and summer.
But as we’ve already mentioned and reiterated, bird mite activity also depends largely on routine disruptions. So, it’s perfectly normal to find some chicken mites prowling during the day and even in cooler weather.
4. Decide On What to Do With Them
This is the most important step.
After spotting black pepper mites in your compound, how do you go about removing them?
The first thing you can do to eliminate black pepper mites from your home is to remove their nests. These are either bird nests or rodent nests.
The actual nest removal process shouldn’t be too difficult, considering that chicken mites don’t fly or jump. However, you may face a bit of a challenge if dealing with bird nests located high up on trees or rodent nests buried underneath the ground. For rodent nests, experts recommend wearing protective gloves to avoid getting bitten.
After locating the nest, dispose of it far away from the house. The best way to go about that is by burning the nest.
In addition to getting rid of black pepper mite nests, the following tips may also help you deal effectively with these pesky parasites:
a) Perform thorough housecleaning
If you suspect that bird mites have already made their way into your house, the most effective solution is to clean the house thoroughly.
Start by cleaning all carpets, curtains, and furniture upholstery. If possible, use warm water and chemical detergents to kill any bird mites attached to these surfaces.
After washing the clothes, pass them over a dryer on high heat for about 10 minutes. Then pack the clothes in sealed plastic bags for a minimum of five days.
Once you’re done with the laundry, proceed to vacuum all rooms. Then, remove the vacuum cleaner bag and dispose of it outside the house.
b) Apply insecticides
Most insecticides are highly effective against black pepper mites. You only need to apply the insecticides to the common nesting areas of the birds and rodents in your home.
However, be sure to buy a botanical-type insecticide. Such products are formulated with plant extracts, which make them safer to use around people and pets.
c) Invite a professional
If things don’t work out despite your best efforts, then you might consider hiring a licensed pest removal company. Just ensure the person or company you hire offers proof of experience in dealing with chicken mites.
Also, inquire about the kind of products they use and establish that such products are not only effective but also safe.
Black pepper mites may not primarily live on human hosts. However, these parasites can encroach into our spaces and inflict vicious bites. The ensuing scratching might break your skin, opening you up for a number of bacterial and skin infections.
Fortunately, there are numerous effective ways to eliminate bird mites from your compound for good.