If you have pigeons nesting on your building or home then beware, for as night falls pigeon mites may temporarily leave their nest, enter your bedroom and gorge themselves on your blood.
When there are baby pigeons (squabs) in the nest the pigeon mite population will frequently increase, which leads to problems for the pigeon mites when the birds finally leave. It is usually at this stage that the starving mites find their way into buildings and attack the first warm-blooded potential host, often human.
The female pigeon mite lays small batches of eggs (usually no more than 7 eggs per batch) in the fibers of a pigeon’s nest. The eggs will hatch within one or two days, resulting in six-legged larvae, which do not feed and remain static until the next skin moult (ecdysis). This usually takes place within one or two days, and the first nymphal stage (now with eight legs) goes in search of its first blood meal.
Much like the mythical vampire, these pigeon mites are quiescent during the day and emerge to feed at night. The first-stage nymph usually only feeds once before moulting but the second-stage nymph may well feed several times before its next moult. There are usually only two nymphal stages before the adult and the entire life cycle may be completed within a week with reasonably high temperatures such as that can occur in attics.
The adult pigeon mites are quite long-lived, sometimes up to a year and are remarkably resistant to starvation. It is reported that they can survive for several months without a blood meal. By choice they will feed nightly and the rich red colour of these pigeon mites is due to fresh blood being visible through their body wall. Pigeon mites that have not fed for a few days are much darker because the blood goes almost black with age. Once the blood is digested the pigeon mites become white or translucent.
When pigeon squabs are in the nest, the pigeon mite population is usually happy feeding on these primary hosts; its when these babies leave that the problems often begin.
The incidence of these pigeon mites in domestic premises as a result of their migration from pigeon nests, is quite common but of very localised significance.
This problem is even more common in urban areas and this is usually due to the occurrence of pigeons nesting outside on ledges. These pigeons are easily displaced with the installation of Anti-Roosting Bird Spikes.