Although most bird control and exclusion work occurs outside buildings, birds will nest inside attics or ceiling voids occasionally because of openings. All animals have parasites of one type or another, and birds are no exception. Ectoparasites — such as bird lice, bird mites, swallow bugs and even ticks — are common inhabitants of bird nests. Once their avian hosts have been excluded from the nest, these parasites migrate in search of a new host, often bringing them in contact with people.
The tiny insects a customer reports are crawling around must be positively identified. Collect multiple specimens into alcohol, and send them to a qualified entomologist (If you don’t know any, try your local university’s entomology department). Ask the customer about any problems with birds in or on the building. Ectoparasites can migrate inside from nests on ledges, roofs or gutters, so you need to consider outside activity. If birds have been or are present, start your investigation in those areas, looking for nests. Wear respiratory protection, goggles and gloves as a precaution because a number of disease organisms are associated with birds.
Where nests are accessible, spray the area with a disinfectant registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Then physically remove the nests and seal them in a plastic bag for disposal. Apply an appropriately labeled insecticide in and around the area of the nest. Inside, below that area, apply a residual dust into cracks under baseboards, window and door frames and voids behind electric outlets — avenues parasites might use to move from the attic or ceiling into the rooms below.