Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A hundred tiny bugs crawling on my arm...

That is why we are temporary exile once again. Two nights ago, I couldn't sleep. It was hot - in part because the air conditioner had stopped working, and so we brought in the fan. But every time that fan blew over me or my wife (or Meir, who woke up in the middle of the night), we started itching. Thinking this was just a reaction to the heat and sweat, and the passage of air over it, I eventually fixed the fan in place to blow sideways, so as to circulate the air but not blow directly on us.

In the morning, I noticed that there were about a hundred tiny bugs crawling over my arm, and that was what was causing the itch. And so I showered. Looking around the bedroom, I noticed that these tiny bugs were swarming over the fan as well, which accounted for the itchiness -- every time the fan blew over us, it was sending a few more of the tiny bugs our way.

I noticed these bugs on the walls as well. All in all, there must have been a few hundred thousand. They are crafty. While on the wall, they mostly stay in place and so they look like specks of dirt. Only when you put your flesh (such as a finger) in close proximity do they say "Yum" and start crawling towards the flesh.

These bugs are also quite tenacious. Try to squish one with a finger and it does not squish. Rather, it simply starts crawling around your finger. Rolling a finger over them a few times sometimes kills them.

Wet paper towels also are problem. You can sweep up a hundred or so on a paper towel, but the ones on the edge start crawling off the edge of the paper towel and on to your hands, arms, shirt, etc. I showered multiple times while dealing with them.

I discovered one effective means of dealing with them - duct tape {Update: I should have said packing tape}. Apply a piece of duct tape {packing tape} over them and then peel away. The duct tape keeps them in place, so that they (mostly) cannot crawls onto arms, etc.

Where were these bugs coming from? Well, for a while, we have been bothered in the morning by the squawking of birds who live in our air conditioner. I had put off dealing with them for a while because of my being extremely busy and because I was a bit concerned that the birds would attack me. But the past few days the air conditioner has been silent.

I noticed that the bugs were coming from the air conditioner, and determined that that was their nest. The AC had to go. And so I pulled the air conditioner from the window. Inside was a massive bird nest (but luckily no birds) -- a mansions. It was stuffed full of mud, feathers, twigs, dried grass and leaves. No wonder the air conditioner had stopped working! The bugs were likely coming from within the bird nest. So I emptied the bird nest into a bag and managed to move the various parts of the air conditioner to the basement of our apartment building for disposal. Of course, I got many of the little critters on me in the process, but all in a good cause.

We moved for a day or two to my in-laws (who are in the neighborhood) and I got rid of the bugs and purchased two Kenmore air conditioners from Sears. They are not yet installed, but I hope to install them today so that we can move back in.

Update: Someone is installing them as I type. Hooray!

21 comments:

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

One day you will remember and laugh. ;)

Jewish Blogmeister said...

Ever try a vacume ? Don't let the bed bugs bite:)

joshwaxman said...

:)

I was afraid to try a vacuum after I saw what they did to my garbage can. I had thrown one of two buggy paper towels in the trash and did not send it to the incinerator immediately. They managed to crawl all about the lid and outside of the garbage can. very tenacious bugs, they are. they would probably crawl out of the vacuum the moment it was turned off.

Rachel said...

Oy, I'm so sorry! What a hassle.

Our new kitten gave us fleas, a week before we were married, eight years ago this month. So I empathize with tiny bugs in the bed. Here's hoping yours are gone now, and the itch along with them.

Chaim B. said...

When I first saw your title I thought you were headed the way of Kafka's Metamorphosis or something. Glad it all worked out.

joshwaxman said...

thanks.

the chocolate lady said...

What a nightmare. This must be a metaphor for something.

Anonymous said...

How did you get rid of these bugs... and did you ever figure out what they were?? I had an almost identical situation this morning. Have a nest of birds in the wall beside the vent for the A/C and the birds were scratching at the vent so I went over and hit the floor and the wall trying to scare them away and I came away with what I think are the same bugs all over my arms... please advise!

joshwaxman said...

argh.
as for getting them off of you, a hot shower.
we finally got rid of them by first getting rid of the nest, then over the course of a day or so applying packing tape over them on the wall. Any other material and they will just crawl right off. Eventually, they thinned and then disappeared.
Best of luck dealing with your bugs.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. We were begining to think we were crazy. We searched the internet for tiny bugs, the closest this we could figure was body lice, which is just too gross to think about. All your advice was perfect. We got a bottle of bug spray, a stick, doused the area, open the window and pushed the nest out. There was a dead bird in it. We did a level one clean of the area, showered, and will do it again tomorrow. I am surprised we would not find better info on the web. It seems like it would be a more common problem. thanks again.

Anonymous said...

How can we connect it to the parsha? (same poster as above)

joshwaxman said...

I'm glad you solved your bug problem.

perhaps we could connect it to the parsha (Pinchas) by estimating the bugs at 24,000, the same number as died in the plague at Shittim?

:)

Anonymous said...

ps They are called 'bird mites' and they are pretty gross under a microscope. You can get more info by searching those keywords.

Anonymous said...

aiee! I have the same problem! I'm so glad I found your blog! I was worried they were wood-eating bugs of some sort destroying the wall and the window.
we should have taken the ac out and gotten rid of the nest at the FIRST SIGN of a bird!! I had no idea this would happen. And to think, I thought their songs were so pretty and the tiny babies chirping was cute!
NEVER AGAIN will I host a bird!!
(Lowell, MA)

joshwaxman said...

just a correction -- PACKING TAPE is what I meant. Duct tape does not work so well.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I just returned a baby bird to the nest in my fern, on my porch, I am infested with these little bugs! How do they stand it? Gross aaaagh! ! I'm going to my pool! !!

Anonymous said...

Same here.... A little swallow fell out twice in two days and what did I do? Place it back in the nest.... Little did I know....tine bugs all over my hands and arms!!!! Ughh... Washed it off with soap but was pretty disgusted throughout the day and started researching thinking it was ticks until I came to this blog. I'm pretty freaked out as I have two little boys. Do these bugs carry disease???

Clarissa Lobo said...

I have a similar situation.I have this birds nest in my balcony and a couple of days back a baby bird fell down from the nest twice and I put it back in the nest.However the third time it fell and died and ever since these tiny bugs have been around.If I only step into the balcony I see thousands of them crawling on me.I feel so itchy and I have a 3 yr old daughter, I am really scared.I am going to get rid of that nest asap,but only that there are 2 more baby birds in it.So don't have a heart to break the nest.Just wanted to know if these bugs carry any disease and is it dangereous.

Anonymous said...

I am visiting my mom in NC. We were sitting on her fromt patio and I was under a bird's nest that was on her porch. After sitting for ten-fifteen minutes, we came in the house. As I walked in, my arm started itching. I looked down and saw two small pinpoints moving. I figured they crawled on me from outside. Next thing I know, my face and neck start itching. I go to the bathroom and see three more on my face and neck. I start panicking and have my husband check my head and body. we have twin two year olds and I didn't want to go near them. I bagged the clothes, jumped in the hot shower and so far so good for the last two hours. My mom and stepdad are getting rid of that bird nest..but I will tell you that I have never been so disgusted or freaked out. I am a clean person and I honestly cannot imagine what happened in those fifteen fifteen minutes that I was sitting on the porch. It has to be that nest that was right over my head

Anonymous said...

I have had a similar experiance, birds nest, small round brownish bugs. our infestation was probably in the thousands, they congragated on the top of the post around the nest. after the babies moved out we knocked down the nest sprayed down the column with bleach then rinsed them away. . . or so we thought. now everytime i go outside one or two of the bugs end up somewhere, usually on my arm. it has been about a week since we cleaned away the nest but it seems we might have just spread them out. we have not seen them in large numbers since getting rid of the nest, but how long do they live. one of the "mites" on me today seemed smaller like maybe a juvenile. without the birds what else do they feed on. we will be washing our dogs today, and reapply flea/tick treatment. (i hope that will protect the dogs, who live inside and out) How long until all of the bugs are gone?

DvorahQ said...

I found a perfect, beautiful empty bird's nest on a rock under a tree on my property this morning. Thinking it would be a great thing for a craft project with my granddaughter, I picked it up. Instantly, I was covered with these teeny tiny crawlie things. I dropped it, ran into the house, and submerged my hands and forearms in soapy water. Doing a quick internet search to discover what I had gotten into, I found this site. Being Jewish myself, I was bemused to find my info on a Jewish blog. I suppose I'll purchase nests for crafts from reputable companies. So much for gleaning from nature... Now, If I can only stop feeling as though I am covered with invisible bugs!

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