What can I do to control mite outbreaks?

So you suspect you have mites in your house. Well, I’ve got some bad news for you mites are one of the most difficult pests to eradicate and control. Don’t give up hope, there is a way to treat a mite infestation but if you are looking for a quick fix you are out of luck.

A word of caution before we begin, do to the difficulty of mite control and the safety hazards involved with handling poisonous chemicals, mite control does not lend itself to do-it-yourself exterminating. For your own safety you should strongly consider seeking out the services of a professional pest control company. The following information should give you an idea of how mite control works. It is not intended as a step-by-step self-help guide

Mite control is essentially a five step process.

  1. Identifying the type of mite and tracing the mite to it’s source
  2. Methods to control the mite host population around your home.
  3. Removal of points of entry for mites.
  4. Controlled use of chemical pesticides.
  5. A thorough cleaning of the premises.

Identifying the Mite

The first step for mite control is to identify that you do in fact have mites. Once you have determined that the source of the problem is mites, it is necessary to figure out what type of mites you are looking at. Some of the most common ways people discover they are infested with mites is through an inspection by a pest control professional or by a visit to the doctor’s office.

Pest Control Professionals for Bed Bugs

Pest control technicians are specially trained to recognize the signs of a mite infestation. However, even when an infestation is discovered, determining the type of mite is very difficult. Because mites are so small, the species of mite may not be recognizable without the use of magnification technology. If the technician is unable to identify the species based on the tools at their disposal, the specimen may be sent to an Entomologist (that’s a fancy way of saying bug scientist). Once the Entomologist has determined the type of mite, a control plan can be formulated.

Dermatologists Understanding of Mites

Before finding a single mite, people tend to suspect they have some sort of insect infestation from bites or skin rashes. Medical professionals are trained to recognize bites or rashes on the skin but it may take a specialist to associate the condition with a particular pest. You can find more information on mite bites here.

Tracing the Mite To It’s Source

Once the type of mite has been discovered it is possible to trace the mite infestation to it’s host. For example two of the most common species of biting mites found in the home are Bird Mites and Rodent Mites. As you may have guessed from the names, bird mites generally prefer to feed on birds and rodent mites generally prefer to feed on rodents. So if you have bird mites, there is likely a source in or near your home, be it an abandoned bird’s nest in your chimney or a pet parakeet in your living room.

Once you have discovered the source of the infestation, the next step is the control of that source.

Controlling the Source of the Infestation

Methods of Bird Control

The most common way a bird mite is transmitted into your home is through birds. So the obvious solution: get rid of the birds, get rid of the bird mites. There are several methods and products available that are designed to control bird population. The most common methods of bird control include physical deterrents, visual deterrents, chemicals and sonic/ultrasonic devices, among others.

Physical Barriers

Some examples of physical bird deterrents include such products as spike systems, Bird Netting, Bird Slope, Bird Jolt Systems, Bird Wire, Bird Spiders, and more.

bird_spikes anti_bird_netting

Spike Systems (left) and Bird Netting (right) products will not harm birds only act to repel birds from an area.

Chemical Option

Another option for bird control are using chemical deterrents. Some examples of a chemical deterrent range from products for turf to chemicals designed to kill birds (avicides).

The Technological Option

Sonic or Ultrasonic devices are designed for enclosed or semi-enclosed areas.

BIRDX

Sonic waves prevent birds from entering and remaining in areas. These products are not harmful to birds.

Removal of Points of Entry

After identifying the type of mite the next step is to find out how the mites are getting into your house. Unfortunately since mites are practically microscopic it may be impossible to completely seal off your home from the mites themselves. Instead to combat a mite home infestation you must consider how the hosts they attach themselves to are getting in to your home.

Once you identify actual or possible point of entries for the mite host you should fix the problem by eliminating the opening. Some of the most common entry points for mite hosts are through rips in screens and small cracks and crevices in the homes exterior.

Bird or rodent mite hosts may also gain entry from overhanging tree limbs and branches in the spring. To remove this point of entry trim shrubs and over-growth near windows.

Other points of entry include chimneys and eaves. To prevent this there are a variety of products that cover screens.

ripped_screen cracks_in_home

Closing of cracks/crevices, ripped screens, and other points of entry are effective means of prevention

Working with Chemicals

It is not recommended they you take this step on by yourself, pest control professionals, have the training, experience and safety equipment to do the job. In all likelihood you don’t. If you think wearing dish washing gloves and putting your shirt over you mouth is going to keep you safe, it won’t. By working with poisonous chemicals you are taking a huge and unnecessary risk for little in return.

A lot of people will be tempted to jump right into this treatment method. We like quick and easy fixes; however, when it come to mites there is no quick fix.

There are a variety of over the counter bug sprays and repellent products, but very few are designed to specifically deal with mites. While some of these products may be effective when combined with the other methods of treating the infestation. Relying only on chemicals and skipping the other steps will get you nowhere.

Chemical fogging products are probably the most effective mass mite killer. When using any sort of chemical, but especially foggers it is essential to follow the manufacturers safety precautions, you are dealing with dangerous poisons.

After you knockout the bulk of the infestation with a fogging product. You can use residual pesticide at strategically placed points of entry in the home. A residual pesticide has a lingering effect and will serve as a major roadblock for any mite looking to get back in your home.

It’s Cleaning Time

No mite infestation can be gotten rid of without using a little elbow grease. In the home, bedding material and furniture serve as the ideal breeding ground for mites. As it affords the perfect spot, to hide, reproduce and wait to launch their next attack. Pay particularly close to cottons and other fabrics as these types of material are a great material to create the warmth and security necessary to insulate their eggs. Several products are on the market to encase mattresses, box springs and pillows to prevent the threat of infestation.

Bird mites will more frequently infest the bedroom, since they are most active at night. There are several products on the market such as mattress, box spring and pillow zippered vinyl protection cases that will help eliminate mites.. Unfortunately covering the beds alone just isn’t gonna get the job done it is necessary to clean the walls and ceiling, as well as flooring, and especially behind any headboards or other area directly near the bed. Vacuuming is also key in elimination of bird mites.

And if all else fails…

Call in the professionals. Pest control professionals have the experience, training, knowledge, and technology to get the job done right. Unfortunately, due to their difficult nature not every pest control company handles mite cases. So when looking for a pro makes sure they handle mite problems.

How does a professional treat for mites?

A professional has access to the special equipment and chemicals that you can’t get without special licensing. For an example of Professional Control of Mites please refer to the Mite Treatment plan of Hearts Pest Management.

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