These are parasitic arthropods in the tick family. They are at least 45 000 species identified, but only a few are human parasites. Their life cycle is composed of the egg, larva, nymph and adult stage, and it can be completed in as little as seven days.

They have eight legs with a sharp protruding mouth piece. This is the part used to inject into the victims’ skin and suck out blood. This blood is not only for their feeding, but it is essential for reproduction. Most of the bird mite population is female, and they are opaque or white in color but are darker after a meal. They can survive for long periods without a host body for supply of blood and can live for up to eight months without feeding.

They are quite tiny and measure no more than 0.5 mm. They can quickly grow into large populations and can also be found in other animals such as rodents, birds and pets. In homes, they can live in bedding and furniture, generally in areas where they can easily hide and reproduce comfortably.

They typically hide during the day and come out at night to get their food. They identify their host by using their unique receptors to check for the presence of carbon dioxide, heat and moisture. They can spread parasites in birds and pets and have been known to cause itching and allergic reactions to humans. They generally pose a health hazard to human beings.