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Thread: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

  1. #1
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    Default How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    I'm looking for good ways to eliminate mites from nest boxes that wild squirrels use. I'd rather use a natural method if possible. I think they are mites? I put my hands into the nest box and I feel little tiny bugs crawling on me. How do you know if it is mites or fleas?

    I've heard some say use diatomaceous earth, sprinkle it in; I've heard others say that squirrels should not breathe in diatomaceous earth. So maybe that is not a good idea?

    I've heard that neem oil is a good pest remover, but would the smell of neem oil rubbed on the inside of a nest box be harmful to squirrels, because it would be in an enclosed space. I also have crushed neem leaves which would not smell as strong as the oil, looks like parsley or oregano flakes. I wondered about tossing this into the bedding, as it would be like crushed leaves, again, I don't know if there would be any harm to the squirrels in this approach.

    Any thoughts?

    This can't be pleasant for the squirrels.

    With the heat of summer coming on, they may stop using the nest boxes soon, but I'm guessing mites might be present in winter too? So I want to know how best to deal with them.

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    Default Re: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    I love DE and use it a lot for pest control. You can pour a big mound of it or you can sprinkle or dust it on. Mites are pretty small, I can't imagine you would need a lot for it to dry them out quickly.

    Also, I have mint plants around the house to ward off ants from coming in (my arch nemesis!) They hate it. Do you think that might work?

    Finally, may be something oily to suffocate or a spray of diluted dish soap?

    Good luck!

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    Default Re: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    That's a great question. I have always used food grade diatomaceous earth because I had never heard anything negative about it. I will be following this thread to see what others recommend.

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    Default Re: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    hmmm... well if i were you i would wait till they leave the nest boxes, and then disinfect them. if they don't leave, do that anyway. do you feed them or give them water? you should give them the earth stuff, I've heard its good for parasites in cattle and large animals, but i think it might me more for worms. put it in their food and water anyway, and it might kill off the mites, and any worms too. i think your supposed to do that for 2 weeks, but as their squirrels and probably can get them easily, i would just make it as a regular thing. i will do some research for you
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    Default Re: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by cava View Post
    I love DM and use it a lot for pest control. You can pour a big mound of it or you can sprinkle or dust it on. Mites are pretty small, I can't imagine you would need a lot for it to dry them out quickly.

    Also, I have mint plants around the house to ward off ants from coming in (my arch nemesis!) They hate it. Do you think that might work?

    Finally, may be something oily to suffocate or a spray of diluted dish soap?

    Good luck!
    I had heard mint was a natural squirrel deterrent, so that might not be good. My neighbor has put it around his bonsai plants to keep the squirrels from burying nuts in them and he said it seemed to be working.

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    Default Re: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by Mel1959 View Post
    I had heard mint was a natural squirrel deterrent, so that might not be good. My neighbor has put it around his bonsai plants to keep the squirrels from burying nuts in them and he said it seemed to be working.
    Yeah, I wasn't sure. Good to know!

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    Default Re: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    there is 8 in 1 bird mite and flea control in petsmart too. maybe you can use it on squirrels? capstar is a pill that can be used as crush powder in water, or given with food. idk if wilds will eat pills thou. they will in powder for on their food as well as water. can you get near them and touch them?
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    Default Re: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    Thank you all for your thoughts.

    Cava,
    so you have not heard that diatomaceous earth could be hazardous for them to breathe? I'm not saying it is at all, I just want to find the best info that I can. I have food grade D.E. I just have never used it much because I am new to it. Would you dust it right on top of the nesting material in the nest box?

    I know that mint is a mouse repellant, I have used peppermint oil dropped around my basement to keep the mice away, it works, until the scent wears off, so it's a non-stop application thing. I've given up on that for now.... All that to say, I'd probably not use it for squirrels.

    Floppysquirrel04,
    Yes, I give them food and water, they are squirrels that I have released, and wild ones that hang around. Two sets of babies were raised in both boxes this spring. One was a wild squirrel, and one was a released squirrel. The babies are on their own now, but still hang around the boxes, but no one is dependent on them, so I am free to clean them now. I don't understand what you mean by "feed them D.E." Do you mean to put it into food and water? How do you do that? And would that kill the external mites? I agree it would kill internal parasites, but what I know I have is bugs in their bedding. And I figure that if I just disinfect it, they will come back, so I am looking for a long term natural solution. Thanks for offering to do research. :-)

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    Default Re: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    yes put it in food and water and in the nest box and put D.E. in a spray bottle (that hasn't had cleaner in it) and spray it onto them or onto a cotton ball and rub it on them. the main places are the shoulder and the rump i think. since you can get close, put advantage or revolution on them if you don't do D.E., or you can do both. hope this helps . oh and disinfect them anyway for the time being. this way you can treat them and the boxes, because if they go in the boxes full of mites while being treated, you'll have to start over. and its good hygiene.
    "Until one has loved an animal, part of one's soul remains unawakened."
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    "We have doomed the wolf not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly
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    no more than a reflected image of ourselves."
    - Farley Mowat

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    Default Re: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by Floppysquirrel04 View Post
    there is 8 in 1 bird mite and flea control in petsmart too. maybe you can use it on squirrels? capstar is a pill that can be used as crush powder in water, or given with food. idk if wilds will eat pills thou. they will in powder for on their food as well as water. can you get near them and touch them?
    I'm not familiar with this product. I am really hesitant to use products with chemicals to which this product most likely is. I am grateful for your thoughts.

    I can get near one squirrel, but not the other. I'd like to stay as hands off as possible. If I could simply sprinkle something into the nest box that would kill the mites, or make them leave so that the squirrels have peace, that is my goal. Again, I do welcome all suggestions. I'm just stating that I am one who tries to go all natural first.

    I only know so much, so I am posting to find out what others do or have done, and what success they have had so that I can choose the most appropriate thing for these squirrels.

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    Default Re: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    I use Diatomaceous Earth (DE) but it is important to use Food Grade DE and not the "Crawling Insect" stuff. The difference is amorphous DE versus crystalline DE. The crystalline stuff is much more dangerous when inhaled. With proper precautions the dangers of Food Grade DE are not much worse than normal household "dusts". Inhaling any small particles (collectively "dust") over an extended period of time will cause health issues... so requires precaution.

    When my boxes are vacant, I first remove all the nesting debris and close up the box, throw in a handful of food grade DE. I have a small, cordless 18V leaf blower that I then use to blow through the entry hole into the box, theory being to distribute the DE. I then open the access panel used to clean the box and again hit it with the leaf blower to remove an excess. If I did not have this very convenient blower I think I would have remove the boxes to accomplish the task since Id never attempt this with my full sized gas blower.



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    Default Re: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by Floppysquirrel04 View Post
    yes put it in food and water and in the nest box and put D.E. in a spray bottle (that hasn't had cleaner in it) and spray it onto them or onto a cotton ball and rub it on them. the main places are the shoulder and the rump i think. since you can get close, put advantage or revolution on them if you don't do D.E., or you can do both. hope this helps
    Thanks Floppy.
    How much would you put in the food and water?

    At this point, I am not interested in the advantage or revolution products, it is my personal choice of pursuing a natural lifestyle. Though I thank you for your thoughts. I am not against others making those choices, I'm just responding to your thoughts with what fits my direction and what doesn't.

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    Default Re: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by Spanky View Post
    I use Diatomaceous Earth (DE) but it is important to use Food Grade DE and not the "Crawling Insect" stuff. The difference is amorphous DE versus crystalline DE. The crystalline stuff is much more dangerous when inhaled. With proper precautions the dangers of Food Grade DE are not much worse than normal household "dusts". Inhaling any small particles (collectively "dust") over an extended period of time will cause health issues... so requires precaution.

    When my boxes are vacant, I first remove all the nesting debris and close up the box, throw in a handful of food grade DE. I have a small, cordless 18V leaf blower that I then use to blow through the entry hole into the box, theory being to distribute the DE. I then open the access panel used to clean the box and again hit it with the leaf blower to remove an excess. If I did not have this very convenient blower I think I would have remove the boxes to accomplish the task since Id never attempt this with my full sized gas blower.


    Spanky thank you for your clarification on D.E. Maybe what you have said explains why I have heard that it is safe to use, and or harmful to use, because there are two different kinds. Though I hear you have stated to not use too much of the food grade kind either. I have the food grade kind.

    So If I heard you correctly, you use the D.E. to clean them out, then leave a little residue of it in there, but blow out most of the excess. Then do you fill the nest boxes, or leave them empty?

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    Default Re: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    I really like Spanky's idea and that's pretty much was I was picturing. If you could dust it on over the inside so that it gets stuck in the nooks and crannies then get rid of the excess.

    When I was little my mom would put baking soda in a washrag and then close it up and put a rubberband on the end (like a balloon) and use it like a powder puff to put it on our poison ivy. It dispenses powder pretty well. If you don't have a leaf blower, that might work.

    As far as a breathing hazard, I think if the excess is removed it would be ok. Plus, the stuff will be damped down with humidity and rain.

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    Default Re: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by Lighten-Up View Post
    Spanky thank you for your clarification on D.E. Maybe what you have said explains why I have heard that it is safe to use, and or harmful to use, because there are two different kinds. Though I hear you have stated to not use too much of the food grade kind either. I have the food grade kind.

    So If I heard you correctly, you use the D.E. to clean them out, then leave a little residue of it in there, but blow out most of the excess. Then do you fill the nest boxes, or leave them empty?

    The food grade is the way to go without doubt. It is simply like any other "dust"; breathing too much can be an issue. You want the DE in the box but not so much that lots gets stirred up into the air of the enclosed space (in this case a nest box).

    I leave the box empty and allow the squirrels fill with the material of their choice. I used to place things in there but they'd throw most of it out in favor of leaves, pine needles and such...

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    Default Re: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    Hi Lighten Up! I use food grade DE in my RC...I rub it along the wooden edges, on top & sides of the wooden nest box & have even rubbed it on the flyers backside & tummy from neck down. Dust their pouches as well. And use it in the bottom of the RC mixed into the dried leaves & pine needles. I also sprinkle it on the ant hills outside. It doesnt kill on contact but is more of a slow killer but works if you keep up on it regularly. I make sure I use a tiny bit at a time, rubbed in, not loose or just sprinkled & left, & never apply when the flyers are out or right there to breath in. I get mine from the website DiatomaceaousEarth.com. Not very expensvie for a big bag. I even disolve a teaspoon in a glass of water & drink it once a day myself...grosses my hubby & kids out. You can use it indoors on bedding & rub in fur on cats/daogs to treat fleas too. Always a constant battle between ants, fleas & mosquitios!

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    Default Re: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by Spanky View Post
    With proper precautions the dangers of Food Grade DE are not much worse than normal household "dusts". Inhaling any small particles (collectively "dust") over an extended period of time will cause health issues... so requires precaution.
    Spanky,

    I have been thinking about what you wrote here. Per common sense, I can agree with this, but I don't actually know what health issues you are referring to, could you please elaborate? It might be a clue to another issue I am dealing with.

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    Default Re: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    Spanky, thank you for your example of how you use the DE in your nestboxes. We just took all four of our nest boxes down to inspect them after reading this thread. 3 of the 4 nestboxes were filled with carpenter ants! eek The really big ants that have great big mandibles. This explains why our boys stopped using their nest boxes. I thought it was because it was too hot. I remember HRT4SQRLS saying that she had noticed that a lot of the squirrels choose dreys in the summer instead of boxes because of the heat, so I assumed that's what my guys had done.

    I have scrubbed them out with a mild cleanser, rinsed them well and am leaving them in the sun for a couple days to thoroughly dry. I am going to then dust them with the DE. I actually had put a little DE in there before, but I obviously didn't do a thorough job.

    I feel terrible that they haven't been able to use the boxes and hope they will choose to use them again in the future. It's also fortunate that a mommy squirrel didn't have any babies in one of the boxes and then have the ants move in because carpenter ants are ruthless and would have easily killed any babies. eek

    This is a good reason to take your boxes down and inspect them occasionally.

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    Default Re: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by Lighten-Up View Post
    Spanky,

    I have been thinking about what you wrote here. Per common sense, I can agree with this, but I don't actually know what health issues you are referring to, could you please elaborate? It might be a clue to another issue I am dealing with.
    Inhaling a lot of any small particles can cause a shortness of breath, coughing, etc. It does not matter if those small particles are lots of smoke (like from a campfire), caused by sanding wood or cutting it with a power saw, cement dust, etc. Some folks are more sensitive to these irritations that others (of course).

    DE can also be fairly irritating to the eyes.

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    Default Re: How to eliminate mites in Nest Boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by Spanky View Post
    Inhaling a lot of any small particles can cause a shortness of breath, coughing, etc. It does not matter if those small particles are lots of smoke (like from a campfire), caused by sanding wood or cutting it with a power saw, cement dust, etc. Some folks are more sensitive to these irritations that others (of course).

    DE can also be fairly irritating to the eyes.
    Thank you Spanky, I was actually meaning issues for squirrels, but I would assume that the issues would be the same.

    Makes me ponder all the campfires I've had under huge trees long before I made friends with squirrels, I wonder how many if any I have ever smoked out as I delighted myself in a nightly campfire.

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