How we got rid of bird mites!

May 13, 2016

If you have a quick Google about bird mites you will mostly find people completely freaking out, and being completely overwhelmed by them.  We read of some people still struggling with them after 12 months.  And one guy had gotten rid of them... by throwing out everything he owned including his mobile phone!

It took us, a family with 6 children, about 2 weeks of intensely hard work to get rid of the mite infestation.  And while I'm definitely not an expert in mites (bird lice are technically mites) I thought it was worth sharing what we did.

First of all, there are different types of mites and lice. It is helpful if you are able to have them identified.  But don't be disheartened if you collect samples and find nothing.  They are soooooo very tiny that apparently some can only be seen after they have had a feed.  If your eyesight isn't really good you'll need a magnifying glass.  So you do start to get paranoid, and when we collected our samples we found we were also picking bits of fluff, dirt, and other non-living objects up.  But we were lucky enough to also confirm that we had a mite infestation, most likely bird mites.

And in our case we weren't able to confirm the source, which made it tricky.  It seems mostly likely that some sand that had been delivered for our sandpit could have bought them in, and they could have come inside on the children that way.  But we don't know for sure.


Our symptoms were that we would feel an itchy, bitey sensation and then if we looked very carefully in that area we would find a tiny little speck.  If we wet our finger and pressed hard we could physically remove it.  Also, at night when we lay down we would feel that same sensation, itchy here, itchy there.  They like to feed at night when you lay down.  In our family we had them all through our hair, on our skin and on our cloth furniture and in our beds.  We weren't sure about our carpets and other furniture, so we ended up just assuming they were there too.

Keep in mind some mites are burrowing mites, so they will feel different.  You'll need to investigate the type of mite you have.

Strategies to eradicate bird mites

  • We developed a routine of quarantining people and things each day, as it just about drove me round the bend when I would clean a child and they would lay on a bed or hug a child that hadn't yet been cleaned.  Quarantining is an enormous amount of work (especially when you have a baby) so you do need manpower if you have a big family.
  • We combed our hair with head lice combs, and physically removed all the little specks.  We varied our combing technique - sometimes with conditioner or coconut oil.  Sometimes we drenched our hair in apple cider vinegar first.  And after we had done lots of combing and our hair was very easy to comb we also found the nit combing dry hair was most effective for finding bird mites.  We often combed each person's hair 4 or more times a day depending on what we were finding.
  • We washed our bodies with lavender Castille soap that had tea tree and eucalyptus oils added to it.
  • We also found physical removal from the skin was the best strategy.  We completely covered ourselves in a homemade coconut oil blend (we had added neem oil, tea tree, eucalyptus, citronella and rosemary essential oils - and we had added quite a bit of these).  This blend did seem to kill the mites (or it at least slowed them down so we could remove them).  And the coconut oil meant they couldn't stick to us.  But we still then need to wipe them off with paper towels.  We kept coconut oil on our bodies until we were free of them for more than a week so that no new mites could stick to us.
  • It actually took me 3 - 4 hours twice a day to wash and comb myself and 6 children. 
  • We tried some chemicals (e.g. Lyclear).  To me it was disheartening to try chemical solutions after 20 years chemical free.  But we were really struggling at that stage and I thought we should give it a go.  Unfortunately the chemical creams didn't work in our situation, and I was sorry I had exposed the children unnecessarily.
  • We washed the sheets daily and dried them in a drier on hot.  We steamed ironed the mattresses, pillows and cloth furniture daily.  We steam vacuumed and steam mopped the carpets and floors daily.  Now you are getting the picture - a lot of exhausting work!
  • We did have Amalgamated Pest Control come.  And they also used chemicals in the house and yard.  Although that was also disheartening for me as I routinely avoid chemicals, we couldn't have gotten rid of the mites without them.  They used Bifenthrin in the house and yard, and Permethrin in the roof.  They were very supportive when we were going through the trauma as they have a lot of experience with people having terrible infestations. 
  • Following our exposure to these chemicals we did a chemical detox routine.  We took charcoal tablets (you can also use powder or capsules), we drank bentonite clay each morning, we continued and increased our oil pulling routine, we used highly concentrated Epsom salts baths, and we used bentonite clay or zeolite in the bath.  We also took St Mary's Thistle to support our liver after such heavy use of both chemicals and also essential oils.  We took it for about 10 days.
  • Our pest control man also felt we had had enough chemical exposure and needed some non-chemical solutions.  He suggested that we wrap all mattresses, soft furniture and anything that couldn't easily be laundered in heavy black plastic or garbage bags, seal them and put them in the hot sun.  We took them in each day but had them in the sun for a total of three hot days (you may be able to do less but we wanted to be sure).  Apparently this approach even kills eggs!  While things were wrapped up we stayed for a couple of nights at the caravan park.  We returned home each day to keep sterilising and cleaning.  Doing this and staying away while we cleaned ourselves seemed to break the cycle of reinfestation for us - and was a key to our breakthrough.


  • We sprayed plain wooden furniture either with tea tree or eucalyptus spray each day.  We also made up our own mix of apple cider vinegar with neem oil, eucalyptus, tea tree.
  • After we were free of the mite infestation we washed our skin with diluted apple cider vinegar and yoghurt regularly to help restore the skin's acid mantle.  We still used coconut oil regularly to prevent reinfestation.
  • We still use Shady Grove Head Lice Prevention Spray, and also Head Lice Shampoo and Conditioner regularly to prevent head lice or any type of mite infestation
  • To treat animal pens we sprinkled diatomaceous earth and lime.  In our case the pest control also sprayed the chicken and guinea pig cages as we had such a difficult infestation to deal with that we needed to rule out all sources.  We didn't eat the chicken eggs for about a month afterward (after we had had a lot of very heavy rain).  A friend of mine recommends wood ash for lice and mites on chickens.
  • To cope with the overwhelming stress my husband and I both used Dr. Vera's 5-HTP and Ultratheanine natural serotonin boosters.  These are practitioner only supplements.  If you would like more information about sourcing these please contact me.
  • Mites are confusing, and our GP explained that different people have different sensitivities to them.  Some people feel itchy even when a dead mite is on them.  Others can be covered in live mites and not notice them.  All people in the house need to be treated to prevent cross contamination even if they don't feel the itchy sensation.

bird-lice-2-for-web.jpgDon't be disheartened if you find yourself itchy even after they are gone, or itchy even in places you don't have them. 

Dealing with mites is such an incredibly stressful ordeal - you literally feel like you are going crazy and you become paranoid about tiny specks and about things that are invisible.  And it is likely you will still feel itchy for a while even when they are gone.  It will take you a little while to recover emotionally.  We found homeopathic remedies of Ant Crud 6 (for itchy sensation) and Arsenicum Album 200 (for itching that stops you going to sleep) to be really helpful.  A homeopath would be able to help you find just the right remedy for your situation.

One website I read listed prayer, patience and perseverance as key elements in overcoming bird lice.  I would completely agree!

Our life is now back to normal.  There were some days there where we thought we would never get rid of the bird mites.  So we are very grateful they are gone.  It was very hard work - lots of 18 hour days with all of my older children and my husband working very hard (he even had a week off work to help).  But now they are gone, and we are free to enjoy life again!  Hooray!


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