Bird Mites – Pesticide Mis-use

Beware of free pest control advice; it can be very expensive.

A client called Dr. Paul Guillebeau with a serious problem. Upon the advice of a sincere retail clerk, they applied so much pesticide that their house was uninhabitable. When the lady called, she and her husband had been living in a travel trailer for two weeks. The husband was unable to remain in the house without serious respiratory distress. Additionally, the wife suffered skin irritation whenever she sat in their car.

“Based on conversations with the client and the examination of samples submitted, here is how I think this situation evolved. The household had an invasion of bird lice/mites from an abandoned bird nest near the door. Bird mites/lice are a self-limiting problem because the parasites cannot survive away from a bird for long. Bird mites/lice will sometimes bite people if no birds are around, I can understand why a person might need to apply a pesticide to eliminate the problem.

“Unfortunately, someone told these people that a LOT of pesticide was necessary to get rid of bird lice/mites. The husband took this advice to heart and doused the carpet, the furniture, and the car with at least two different pesticides. In the meantime, the people’s skin irritation increased, and the submitted samples did not include any arthropods to explain the irritation.

“Most household insecticides have a pyrethroid as the active ingredient, and both skin irritation and respiratory distress have been associated with pyrethroids. I think that these people turned a relatively small problem into a serious situation.

“These people were not foolish. They were simply misled by well-meaning, but uninformed, people and their own belief that a pesticide is always the best solution for a pest problem.

“Think carefully before you apply any pesticide indoors and never use large amounts of pesticides indoors. Find out the source of the problem and learn something about the biology of the pest.

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