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illustration of a northern fowl mite

Introduction

This pest tells you almost everything you need to know from their name; Northern Fowl Mite. They are a small external parasitic pest and commonly infest domestic and wild birds and usually live in Northern or temperate regions.

Recognition

Adult northern foul mites are tiny, adults grow to be about 1/64 to 1/32 of an inch in length. Before a blood meal these mites are a white color and after feeding they are red and then they turn gray as they are digesting their food. Northern fowl mites have 4 pairs of legs that are all the same size.

Biology

The northern fowl mite lives almost its entire life on the host that they are infesting. The life cycle begins with the female laying her eggs on a host bird. The 6-legged larvae hatch from their eggs in about 1-2 days. The larval stage does not eat and after about 8 hours they simply molt into an eight legged nymph. The nymphs use their specialized mouthparts to bite the skin of their host and feed on their blood. In about 4-7 days the nymphs will have matured into adults and two days after the females will feed and lay their eggs. In the right conditions the entire life-cycle can be completed in about 5-7 days.

Very mild northern fowl mite infestations may go unnoticed in birds, but large infestations can cause significant damage to the poultry industry. A bird that is heavily infested with these mites may die from loss of blood.

Habits

Northern fowl mites generally become a problem in homes where bird nests have been built inside, on or in very close proximity to them. Northern fowl mites infest many species of birds including sparrows, starlings, pigeons, robins, and chickens.

When infected young fledglings leave their nests they often also leave behind northern fowl mites. The abandoned mites then tend to wander inside of the home through spaces around windows and doors, and through cracks in exterior walls and around chimneys.

While people are not these mites first choice, once inside a home they will infest and feed on a person’s blood and then medical attention along with pest control services will be needed to stop these mites from feeding on you, your family and pets.


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Prevention

The best way to prevent problems with northern fowl mites in your home is to take steps to prevent birds from creating nesting sites in or around your home. It is important to not attract birds to your home, either do not use bird feeders on your property or place them a good distance away from your home. Keeping gutters cleaned out and placing tight fitting caps on any chimneys to stop birds from nesting in or on your home are also good ideas. It is helpful to caulk gaps around exterior windows and doors and seal or repair cracks in the exterior walls of your home to keep northern fowl mites from being able to enter indoors.

Control

The best way to control norther fowl mites on your property is to implement a bird control program that stops pest bird activity around your structure. Our trained technicians may also provide a specific crack and crevice treatment that addresses the mites already inside your home or business.

Sources

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ig141

http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/pcmites.htm

http://www.thepoultrysite.com/articles/2947/northern-fowl-mite-management/

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