Gayle White, her husband Stephen and their 17 year old daughter were all living a happy life in their beloved 20 bedroom house on Worthington St. in Springfield. This house, which the family continues to live in to this day, was once covered with up to 2,000 birds that had built nests on numerous areas of the home’s exterior. Eventually, the bird presence became too abundant for the family’s comfort, so during the spring of 2012, Gayle decided to remove the nests during a week of extensive house cleaning. However, in less than a day into the cleaning marathon, Gayle began to perceive what felt like tiny bugs crawling into her nose and ears while she rested on her bed. Despite not finding any visible bites or marks of any sort on her face, Gayle felt certain that tiny bugs had been crawling within her bedding and onto her face. Gayle sought help from several sources in order to solve this mystery, including hiring a pest control professional and visiting a practitioner of homeopathic medicine, but she was eventually told by a dermatologist that she likely had a mental condition known as “delusional parasitosis”. People with this condition have delusions of bugs crawling on their skin. Surprisingly, Gayle was somewhat relieved just to have an answer, but she later discovered through online research that her home had actually been infested with tiny parasitic arachnids commonly known as “bird mites”.

This mite species, Ornithonyssus bursa, is barely visible to the naked eye, and they are often referred to as “bird lice” by pest control professionals. Gayle’s husband, daughter and two pets were unaffected by the mites, as they only seemed to prefer parasitizing Gayle. As you can probably guess, the mites infested the home due to Gayle making contact with the many bird nests situated on her eaves and window sills. The nesting material used by birds provides these mites with an ideal habitat, and the mites feed on the blood of birds for nourishment. Bird mite infestations within homes are caused by an abundance of bird nests that become situated on ledges, awnings and window sills. If mites become separated from their bird-hosts, they will search a home for a new host, and in this case, that host was Gayle. Gayle and her family stayed in a hotel for a week so that pest control professionals could use insecticides to eradicate the pests. Bird mites will die if they go three weeks without a blood-meal, and they are most active during the spring and early summer seasons.

Have you ever been under the impression that you had been sustaining bug bites despite not being able to visibly see the bugs?