i have bird lice, and it’s ok.

13 07 2012

fuck shame. fuck embarrassment. fuck not being able to ask for help when you need it because your problem is weird or gross or unsanitary.

i am DONE with it.

when i was a kid, i was ruled by shame. in the 5th grade, i told everyone i didn’t know how to swim so that no one would see the explosion of stretchmarks on my hips and thighs. i didn’t even know what they were, i just knew that they were ugly and abnormal and that i should hide them and quietly hate my body for betraying me. which did, for YEARS. even as an adult, i have never owned a bathing suit that wasn’t skirted.

and there was another time in 3rd grade when i poured AN ENTIRE BOTTLE OF PINE SOL on my head because i was worried i might have head lice (i didn’t) and was too ashamed to ask my mom to look. i guess i’m pretty lucky that i didn’t blind myself.

i know that i’ve been writing about stuff that is gross and weird lately. i know that there are probably more fun things to read about. but i just get so tired of everyone being to scared, or polite, or embarrassed to really talk about some of the crazy shit that just happens as a byproduct of being alive. life is gross and scary sometimes, but it’s even worse if you think you’re alone.

so without further ado, let me tell you about my weekend.

i’ve always thought that those spiky strips or cages that people put under the eaves of their houses to prevent birds from nesting there were ugly and mean. birds are amazing, and birds nests are so cool. so what’s the big deal, right? well, right. but also totally not right. disgustingly not right.

last week, i noticed some strange sounds coming from the vent in my bathroom. at first it just sounded like a plastic bottle rolling around in the rafters of the dropped ceiling, but then on thursday came the telltale cheep cheep cheeps of what sounded like a massive nest of newly hatched birds.

it was weird, but not exactly alarming. i love birds. i didn’t want to evict this new family and cause them to suffer or die. again, no big deal. i could live in peace with the bird fam until they decided to fly south for the winter (or whatever birds in maine actually do). what’s a few peeps while you’re brushing your teeth. nature is marvelous!

but then, things got a bit darker.

on saturday while i was working in my garden (yes, i’m trying again, and yes, it’s still a hot mess, i felt something bite me on the stomach. uh oh. i flicked a tiny black speck off my abdomen and stayed the course.

and then another.

and that sent me running straight to the bathroom to scour my body for more.

3 more.

i told myself that it was probably just something that i picked up in the garden and proceeded to head toward the grocery store.

found one in my bra, and in classic allie freak out style headed to the brighton non-urgent care unit. i waited for 2 hours in the waiting room hoping to god that none of these nice normal looking people could tell what my problem was.

i felt contaminated, and freaked about all the gruesome possibilities. was this my punishment for making too many scabies jokes? chiggers [snort]? or some sort of yet to be identified treatment resistant body lice that i would be infected with for life?

i popped an ativan in the bathroom to try to ease the twitchiness with limited results.

the doc was wearing a bright yellow spandex bike t-shirt and hi-fived me as he assured me that it wasn’t scabies. or chiggers. in fact, he thought it could be cured by a vigorous shower (although he did give me the body lice cream prescription just in case).

one full-silkwood style shower later, and i found 2 more. cue complete meltdown.

i spent the night waking up every half an hour in a panicked bug check. and there they were. i was horrified and scared, and ready to fill my full body lice cream prescription first thing.

but then, i remembered the birds.

people are always talking about how filthy birds are… i ran to the bathroom and looked up. and there, crawling all over the ceiling around the light fixture (where they had apparently made their nest) were a swarm of my tiny mite friends.

a quick bit of google fu, and my suspicions were confirmed. i had the bird lice.

according to this hopeful article, if we could get our landlord to remove the nest and fumigate ASAP, all would be right with the world. although this website painted a much more grim picture. let’s just say that the word infestation was used liberally.

i’ll skip the boring part about freaking out on my landlord and manically cleaning every single item in my bathroom with ammonia (i’m talking individual lip glosses here), but here is a short list of lessons that i learned from my adventures in bird mites:

1. lint rolling is the best way to get bird mites off skin. just remember to close your curtains, or your neighbors will think you’re some kind of weirdo fetishist.

2. if your boyfriend is awesome, he’ll still make out with you even though you’re covered in tiny bugs.

3. you’ll need both an exterminator to kill the bugs, and some dude your landlord knows to get rid of the birds. DON’T WATCH THIS PART. especially if you’re a bleeding heart vegan.

4. big national chain exterminators with giant fiberglass cockroaches on the roof of their vehicles don’t know shit about bird mites (“oh, we don’t do that”), so you’ll need to call a reputable local company. we used advantage pest control, and they were FUCKING AWESOME. our exterminator was so unbelievably nice and straightforward and knowledgeable that after this nightmarish week, i seriously wanted to hug him. we were able to be back in the house after 3 hours, and the chemical they used had almost no smell at all.

5. if a bird builds a nest somewhere in your house, it’s not charming and adorable. it’s not sweet. it’s gross. do the best you can to displace the birds as compassionately as you can, but get those motherfuckers out of there quick before you find yourself at the emergency room crying to some dude name dr. manny about how you can’t emotionally handle having scabies.

and finally (and foremost)…

6. it’s ok if you get bird lice. or head lice. or scabies. or ringworm or whatever gross embarrassing thing that happens to you. it’s ok to freak out. it’s ok to ask questions. and it’s ok to call your mom at 7 a.m. and cry about it. just don’t let yourself be ashamed about it. you’re not gross, the problem is gross. and if you ever do need someone to lint roll the bird lice off your back, i know a gal who would be happy to help.



19 responses

13 07 2012

oh my god, allie. one of the very few gross infestations i (or members of my immediate family) have NOT gotten. yet. if it’ll make you feel better, google “pinworms” to see a horrifying infestation we HAVE dealt with.

also, watch out for the skunk gang cruising the oakdale ‘hood, because our dog’s gotten skunked twice in the last three weeks.

13 07 2012

oh. i know about pinworms… so sorry to hear it! but it is strangely comforting to know that regular nice normal people get gross infestations all the time. they start in with the shame thing so early with the lice in grade school… it sucks! i say SOLIDARITY.

as for the skunks, i saw a pack of 3 or 4 the other night on the usm campus. kazuki and i are definitely steering clear!

13 07 2012

This makes my week feel a little bit better. Let’s just call mine, the no good horrible week that I also happen to have a thirtieth birthday during. Maybe my next thirtieth birthday will be a better one. Way to conquer those mites though!

15 07 2012

all i can say is “wow”. if there is some weird ass shit that’s gonna happen, you WILL be involved. i wouldn’t even think that birds could cause this kind of mahem!

19 07 2012

Now I am itching. Dude, I have had all sorts of gross stuff: Ring worm, Scabies (oh yes, not once but twice. Thanks mom for teaching me about tolerance and scabies by bringing me on overnight camp trips with the shelter kids you work with.), head lice and bird lice (briefly from fostering a robin baby I found when I was about 12). Shudder.

Also: Stretchmarks. I have had those fuckers since I was 12. Fuck them. I love bikinis.

20 07 2012

oh dude. when scout moved into an apartment with fleas (ugh) and then the landlord tried to blame the flea infestation on scout and his indoor cats…

i totally feel your pain. we bathed all of the animals in dawn and called exterminators constantly and threw all of the fabric away and vacuumed constantly and it was NOT CUTE. everything was itchy and terrible and he basically had to pay rent there and live with me.

fuckin’ tiny bugs, man. i am so over the tiny bugs. you are awesome. i’m sorry you had such a shit week. know that if you ever live here, i’d lint roll tiny bugs off of your back. <3<3

22 07 2012

I am currently in the midst of my own 7th circle of itchy hell. My landlord blows and it took 3 weeks of me calling and nagging before they finally sent pest people out. Who told me I had carpet beetles. There is no carpet in my apartment and they supposedly don’t bite people. I was getting 3-5 bites per day and ohmygod the itching. And the welts. Round and round with the landlord until finally another bug lady came out and did a bug dna test. Didn’t know that was possible but I tested positive for fleas. I don’t have pets, I don’t know anyone who has pets, and I have not travelled lately. How the hell did I get fleas? Guy bombed the hell out of this place last week but the vacuuming, laundromat trips, etc. I am ready to be done with this shiz. And the itching. Good luck Allie.

21 08 2012

thanks lea! the bird lice are now officially gone, but i still have the “phantom itch” syndrome pretty bad. fleas are the worst. kazuki got them when he was a puppy (before he started on the revolution), and i had a full on core meltdown. WASH EVERYTHING! STAY UP ALL NIGHT EXAMINING THE BASEBOARDS FOR MOVEMENT! i hosed down every surface with this “all natural” flea spray with clove oil in it. my house smelled like clove cigarettes for weeks! it has been a while since you commented, so hopefully by now you are officially out of the woods!

9 08 2012

When I was 8 or 9, I went to Camp Ketcha for horseback riding and my cousin, best friend, and I all got scabies. I had scabies!

Also, “I had the bird flu” = actual lol.

21 08 2012

omg scabies! i remember that my RA in college had them… were they hard to get rid of? at least i never had to slather myself in that special cream.

23 08 2012

I don’t actually remember. My memory is that we all got to miss school because of it but then I also remember Camp Ketcha being during a warm part of the year so my memory is not to be trusted. I guess I thought it was kind of cool and bad-ass that I had horse scabies.

28 08 2012

i need to make you a t-shirt that says “horse scabies are bad ass”.

22 08 2012
Edmund Charles Davis-Quinn

Dealing with fleas now .. it’s a oy!

28 08 2012

oh god. those are the worst! at least the bird lice cleared out when their host family left. kazuki got fleas the year that we go him, and i had a major meltdown. luckily, they never really infested the house, but that poor dog got flea combed like 4 times a day for a month. also, my entire house got coated in boarx and tea tree oil. it was a dark time.

5 03 2017
Michelle Huber

I know we have bird mites but I can’t get the Exterminator to be leave me they think I’m crazy. I have black speck everywhere.
I need help and I don’t know where to turn.

5 03 2017
Michelle Huber

I forgot to mention I’m getting eaten alive. They get in my nose, mouth, ears, hair. I feel so alone, and isolated. My car is even infested. I just want to chuck it all .

5 03 2017
Allie Munier

Oh god, you poor thing! I’m not sure if what you have is bird mites or not. I was told that they can’t live for too long away from birds, and theoretically shouldn’t infest human homes. Basically, once you move the nest (or nests) and wash your stuff, the problem should go away without any major exterminator intervention. That said, that’s just what I read and the experience that I had. Can you call a different exterminator for a second opinion? I actually ended up in the urgent care (so embarrassing) and finally one of the doctors saw one crawling on me! They didn’t know what it was, but at least he verified that I wasn’t losing my mind. Can you collect the black specks with tape or put them in a baggie so your exterminator can see them up close? Can you locate the source (bird nest inside your home)? I wish I could be of more help! But, good luck, and keep me posted on how it goes.

28 08 2018
Ariana Garcia

Here I am, reading your post, crying because I’ve lost all hope to get rid of these damn things and laughing at how straightforward you are. We have tried EVERYTHING from fogger bombs for fleas, lice, bed bugs, to rubbing alcohol, to lemon grass oil. 3 months of feeling like our skin is crawling, being bit at night, and to embarrassed to invite ANYONE over because I’m afraid they might end up infested with these tiny black bugs from hell. I’ve saved up enough money and will be contacting an exterminator…because I have lost my sanity and hope of ever treating this on my own.

28 08 2018
Allie Munier

Oh god! I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. I think I got really lucky to not have to do much post bird-eviction/extermination beyond washing my linens and wiping down all the surfaces. Hopefully and exterminator can do for you what they did for me! Good luck and keep me posted on your bird lice dramz.

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