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Mite Bites Plague Fayetteville Family

Posted November 2, 2007
Updated December 16, 2014

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— Imagine waking up to something biting you all over. That scenario was a reality for one local family, who said their house was infested with bugs that were hard to kill.

Piles of clothing, blankets and kids’ toys marked "contaminated" told of the nightmare that has plagued the family for the past five weeks. The problem started with birds.

“It’s gotten so bad, we were throwing things out,” said the mother of two. “I felt like something was in my hair, and there was a burning sensation.”

She said she and her two children were covered in bites.

A North Carolina State entomologist said the culprits were bird mites - tiny bugs that can infest people’s homes when birds build their nests nearby. The birds, known as chimney swifts, nested in the family’s smokestack.

The birds are a protected species. It is illegal to disturb them while they're nesting, but the family said the birds were already gone when they discovered the nest.

Adult mites are only a half-millimeter long. They are white until they feed on blood, then appear red. They commonly infest bedrooms and bathrooms and are most active at night.

“I had to throw out all our blankets. We've had to throw out sweaters. They were nesting in the sweaters,” the woman said.

She bombed her house twice, poured Borax on the floors and even had the home professionally sprayed, but the mites kept coming back.

The bugs were so persistent that the family had to rip out the carpet. The man of the house came home from Iraq on emergency leave. On Friday, he declared war on the mites.

“It’s baffling to see how something that small can bite you and leave the type of marks and bruises (they've left) on my kids and my wife,” he said.

The bugs became such a problem that the family started using a spray to clean themselves and anyone else who went in and out of the house, just in case any mites were on them.

The family capped its chimney to keep the birds from coming back. While treatments continued, contractors inspected the home’s insulation to see if the mites had set up residence inside the walls.

As of Friday, the family was still staying at a local motel. The cost of replacing belongings and making repairs will be in the thousands of dollars, they said, and none of it is covered by insurance.

10 Comments

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  • mom2threecld Nov 3, 2007

    if it is illegal to bother the birds, then the state should have to pay for all new things for this family, bet it won't be illegal to disturb them then

  • RYANROCCO Nov 3, 2007

    LET A BIRD BRING SOME BUGS IN MY HOUSE...I DONT CARE HOW PROTECTED THEY ARE..THEY WOULD BE SOME DEAD BIRDS!!!

  • Jokers Wild II Nov 3, 2007

    LOL - I agree with the burn it down theory! I hate bugs *shivers* I bet they really have to say "dont let he bed bugs bite" when they go to bed!

  • ncmickey Nov 3, 2007

    Burn the house down. Insurance covers that...and it kills the bugs....

  • smitty Nov 2, 2007

    Insurance typically doesn't cover bugs or floods.

  • PictureQueen Nov 2, 2007

    I don't understand why homeowner insurance would not cover it. It would for me, or some insurance salesman would be infested next.

  • smitty Nov 2, 2007

    Bi-monthly visits from the exterminator are not optional in my neighborhood. We used to have those dang things, and itty bitty little ants too.

    I foresee and increase in firewood sales...

  • Steve Crisp Nov 2, 2007

    Chimney swifts are protected species?

    There are thousands of them all over our neighborhood every night in the summer, flying in formation and making a racket.

    What are those idiots going to protect next? Ferel cats? Cave crickets? Black ants?

  • jetset Nov 2, 2007

    It is a shame that insurance will not cover this. I feel sorry for this family and the ordeal they have had to endure.

  • jeff275771234 Nov 2, 2007

    let see, a chimney swift is illegal to disturb while they are nesting? haha, let them nest in my chimney and see what happens!