Last Thursday Rachel mentioned she was itchy from various bites.
I too had noticed I had been bitten a few times. I thought it was
fleas given the kind of bites I had. Having just moved to the
‘country’ in Sausalito it didn’t seem too improbable that the cats
had gotten fleas, even though they are indoor cats. A quick
combing revealed that they hadn’t a flea on them. However I did
get a tiny little bug about the size of a spec of dust off
Wooderson. Looking around on the internet we found there are a
variety of mites that bite humans, most notablely rat mites and
bird mites. Our cat Wooderson has taken to sitting near the
bathroom staring at various spots on the walls and we have heard
some scrabbling noises in the past, so we assume we have rats or
mice in the walls. Thus we must have rat mites. Gross! While
trying to press my ear up against the wall to listen for rodents I
found another mite on the wall. Needless to say we stayed up way
too late looking up stuff about mites on the internet.
Friday Rachel took our captured and frozen mites to work with her
for hopeful identification by the entimologists she works with.
However, none of them are mite specialists and there are something
like 45,000 known mite species so it is a bit hard to pin down.
They did however image the mites for her, so as you can see in the
gallery we have a lovely picture of them. All the evidence did
point to rat mites though, and a specialist I emailed the pictures
to definitely thought it was a rat or bird mite (they are quite
similar) after a quick glance at the photos. Great, we have
biting mites in the house.
My upstairs neighbor Kevin and I went poking around under the
house Saturday to see if we could find any holes the rats could
get in. Given we are built out over a canyon this is actually
quite an undertaking as you end up on scaffeling 10-30 feet up in
the air. I went out and found a variety of animal crap on the
scaffeling (cat or racoon) and a good sized hole under our tub
with various chew marks on it. I took a bunch of pictures
(including jamming the camera up the hole) which indicated there
was at least one rat living there, possibly under our tub. We put
a rat trap by the garbage thinking that was were they were getting
food, but no luck. Unfortunately I managed to get myself and my
clothes covered in mites and didn’t figure that out for several
hours so got super bit up and got lots of mites in the apartment.
I sprayed with RAID but Rachel and I slept in the livingroom
anyway that night.
Sunday Kevin took the fight to them, we went back
under the house with a gallon of spray and lots of mesh wire. He
got up on the scaffeling this time and sprayed all over the place,
up in the holes, the piles of animal dung (and swept said dung off
the scaffeling) and then went and stapled metal mesh over all the
holes. I was there for moral support, suggestions, and to call
911 if he fell off the scaffeling. Quite an undertaking!
Afterwards I went and sprayed some more in the bathroom in a
hole by the toilet and under the baseboard by the tub which also
has a hole behind it. I’ve only squished 4 or 5 mites since then,
so hopefully we managed to wipe most of them out. They can’t live
without their host rodent for more than a couple of weeks so if we
keep killing them and the rodents can’t get in we should be good.
If not, well, I think the landlord will have to call in the
Quite the weekend.