Nibor D IGR 120x600

Pest Information

Northern Fowl Mite

Northern Fowl Mite

  • Latin Name: Ornithonyssus sylviarum
  • Common Name: Northern Fowl Mite
  • Other Names: Bird mite

Pest Details

Northern Fowl Mite
Northern Fowl Mite


The origin of this mite is likely to be unknown, as it is found throughout the world in temperate regions.


This common mite is a parasite on all kinds of domestic poultry as well as pigeons, sparrows, starlings, and many other birds. It is found throughout the world. Particularly in the absence of its preferred bird hosts the mites will move about within a structure where birds have been nesting or roosting and will bite humans. The bites are said to cause a painful skin irritation. Bird mites in general cannot continue to breed and survive without their bird hosts. Eggs will normally be deposited on the host bird with only a few eggs produced by each female. However, development from egg to adult mite completes in a week or less, and populations can build up rapidly because of this. The eggs hatch to a larva, the larva molts to the nymph state, and this completes development by molting to the adult mite.


As are nearly all mites the adult stage is extremely tiny and best viewed with high magnification. The bird mites and rat mites tend to have elongated mouthparts and palpi that point forward and very long legs that enable them to walk quickly. There are a few short hairs on the body and legs but not the long, thin hairs of mold or grain mites. The color prior to feeding is a light tan to light orange, but following feeding may have large dark areas within the body. Under high magnification it may be seen that on the top of the body there is a dorsal plate and the posterior end of this plate on the female is extended as a cylindrical projection pointing toward the rear.

Characteristicts Important to Control:

Control should begin with elimination and permanent exclusion of the vertebrate host animals that brought the mites into the structure and which are supporting their continued presence. Once this is done the mites can be physically removed with thorough and frequent vacuuming of all carpets and other surfaces within the structure. Within voids such as attics or interior wall voids a residual contact dust insecticide will be effective and surface treatments with a labeled contact insecticide within the living or working areas can help to intercept wandering mites. On domestic poultry the mites will generally be controlled with topical applications of labeled insecticides.

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