Mites are microscopic arthropods, measuring less an 1mm in length (hence the name), with jointed legs and skeletons on the outside of their body. Among arthropods, mites are the most diverse and successful of the invertebrate class, with a few being parasitic, but the majority are non-parasitic and free-living. Mites exist and survive on land and water, and most mites are not harmful to animals. Due to their extremely small size, mites often are often overlooked.
Mite Behavior, Habitat & Diet
There is a large variety of mite species, including bird mites, chigger mites, clover mites, dust mites, spider mites, and scabies.
Bird Mites— Bird mites are egg-shaped arthropods with tiny hairs that feed off the blood of birds. Unique in nature, bird mites pick one bird host and remain loyal to this one host. If the bird mite host dies, the thousands of mites will migrate in search for a new host. Bird mites do not choose human hosts, though they have been known to bite humans. Without a food source, bird mites will only survive for a few days. Removing bird nests around your home aids in controlling bird mites.
Chigger Mites— Chigger mites have a four stage life cycle, including eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adults. During chigger mites’ life cycles, they are only parasitic during the larval stage. Chigger mites hosts include people, snakes, birds, and small mammals. During the larval stage, chigger mites penetrate the host and inject a fluid that allows them to break down and digest the host’s skin cell.
Dust Mites— While dust mites are non-blood feeding, non-biting, and non-parasitic, they can cause allergies in humans. Their primary food source is dander from skin scales that they find in house dust.
Mite Prevention & Treatment
Various species of mites are difficult to identity without magnification. If you suspect a mite infestation within or around your home, it is best to contact your local pest control professional to conduct a thorough and comprehensive inspection to identify the mite source.