Bird Mites

Need to know

  • Bird mites are typically found on birds or in their nests, but may occasionally be indoor accidental invaders. 
  • Sparrows, starlings and pigeons nests on or in walls of buildings can lead to bird mites found indoors.
  • Bird mites can bite humans but are not a health threat.
  • Finding and removing bird nests(once they are no longer in use) on or in the house or building is the first step in bird mite control. 

Description of bird mites

There are several species of mites called bird mites. These include the northern fowl mite (very common), the chicken mite, the American bird mite and many others. These mites are parasites on birds and are usually found on the birds or in their nests. Thus, under normal circumstances, bird mites go unnoticed. However, on occasion, bird mites wander away from the bird nests and are found indoors as accidental invaders.

Bird mites (under tape)
Bird mites (under tape)

Life cycle of bird mites

Migration by bird mites is common in late spring when baby birds are leaving the nest. Mites that migrate away from the nests may be found anywhere in homes and buildings, but are most abundant in the vicinity of nests that were built on or in the house. Sparrows, starlings and pigeons are the birds most often associated with bird mite infestations in buildings.

Damage caused by bird mites

Bird mites can bite humans but are not a health threat. They are mostly a nuisance and annoyance. Bird mites do not attack nor harm stored foods, plants or household furnishings. They will probably infest pet birds.

Management of bird mites

Bird mite (under tape), length of 0.7 mm
Bird mite (under tape), length of 0.7 mm

Finding and eliminating bird nests on and in the house or building is the first step in bird mite control. This can be followed by spraying residual insecticides in the area of the bird's nest as well as in the vicinity of where the invaders have been most noticed. Spray cracks, crevices and corners but not counters, cupboards and other such general areas. Read and follow label directions. For more information on insecticides please see this article.

Do you live in Iowa and have an insect you would like identified?

The Iowa State University Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic will identify your insect, provide information on what it eats, life cycle, and if it is a pest the best ways to manage them.  Please see our website for current forms, fees, and instructions on preserving and mailing insects.   

Contact information for each state's diagnostic laboratory for U.S. residents.  If you live outside of Iowa please do not submit a sample without contacting the Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic.  


Last reviewed:
December 2021

Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Yard and Garden, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on September 12, 2016. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.