The Low Down on Red Mites: How We Love to Hate Them! 😡
Updated Tuesday, March 15, 2022 (Originally published April 26, 2015)
Red mites are a very common poultry nuisance appearing each season usually in the warmer summer months. They eventually come to all poultry lovers and test our tenacity.
Adult poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae
Light micrographs of developmental stages of poultry red mite including fed and unfed individuals. Some are brilliant white (just after moult).
Red mites can reproduce rapidly so a few under the perch one day can turn into an infestation the next if not monitored and exterminated quickly. Surprisingly mites do not live on the birds but rather in the chook housing particularly under perches and in nesting boxes. They hide during the day and become active at night crawling onto the birds and sucking their blood. Little Vampires! Heavy mite infestations in poultry can lead to high levels of stress amongst birds and can result in anaemia, reduced egg production and, eventually if not treated, death, so being vigilant about coop health is key. Early detection is better than no detection, but the best weapon is knowledge and working to eliminating them before they ever get a leg hold!
So let’s have a look at this tiny parasite and understand a bit more about what it is, its lifecycle and how it reproduces so fast and causes our beloved chooks to suffer silently. The chicken mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) are not breed specific and can be found on any bird. These mites are easily seen once they have had a blood meal (hence their name) and some of us might need to put our glasses on to see them! Red mites have been known to transmit diseases such as Fowl Cholera, Newcastle Disease, Fowl Typhoid and Salmonella as well as causing dermatitis and mange. They are transmitted to poultry from rodents and wild birds. So working on good pest control in your poultry area is key. Eliminating rats, mice and sparrows will go a long way to keeping your hen house mite free. Unlike the northern fowl mite, red mites only spend part of their lives on their poultry hosts. They live in cracks and crevices in the poultry housing and move onto roosting birds at night to feed. Red mites can survive away from poultry for four or more weeks and they can also infest humans (don’t panic!) They can survive for several months without a feed and have been known to lie dormant for years. When hidden in cracks, they are very resistant to desiccation – so cleaning out and leaving a house empty will not prevent mites reappearing when birds are reintroduced. Mites can be carried by wild birds and prevailing winds, so can appear even when there has been no previous evidence of infestation.
The Two Pronged Approach
Here at Appletons we recommend the use of Appletons Poultry Safeguard together with Appletons De-Mite Powder for the treatment of red mites. Appletons Poultry Safeguard is a powerful disinfectant killing bacteria, viruses and odour in coops. It has excellent degreasing qualities and works well to dissolve the waxy coating on the mites exoskeletons slowly causing them dehydrate and die. Smite Professional and Poultry Shield are also available in-store and on-line with similar results.
Appletons De-Mite Powder works brilliantly for residual red mite control and works hand in hand with the Poultry Safeguard to do a great job in keeping the red mite population under control.
13 Easy Steps To Less Mites
- Buy the necessary treatment/s needed and have the tools to hand.
- Wear suitable protective clothing and a facemask.
- Best to remove all floor litter and nesting box material.
- Make sure the perch or perches are removable to reach all hiding places.
- DO NOT pre-water blast your coop
- For best results apply directly to undisturbed, dry timber in hen house.
- Handy hint: Use a paint scrapper to slide between panels and timber joins. Works well to immediately kill mites living down
- SOAK ALL SURFACES: get into all nooks cracks and crannies, around hinges, under lids, roof, walls and outside to is a good idea.
- Don't forget to remove, clean and de-mite all feeders and drinkers if you keep them in the coop.
- Allow to air dry. Best done on a good sunny dry day!
- Next place clean wood shavings in house and nest boxes. Use shavings sparingly as this procedure will be repeat again in 5 to 7 days.
- IMPORTANT: For severe outbreaks repeat at least 3+ times until you are on top of them.
- Follow up weekly with the Appletons De-Mite Powder and spot spray between treatments if required.
Things You Can Do To Help Your Flock 🐔
Pleasurable Relief 😊
Keep your hens mite and lice free with an Appletons Dust Bath Kit. Chickens will instinctively dust bathe to assist with parasite removal. Plus they love the pleasure a dust bathe offers them too! Invest in one of our Dust Bath Bowl Kits today. We also sell the refills.Dust Bath Bowl Kit
Eliminate Hangers On!
Red poultry mites do not usually live on your chicken but if your mite population is high they can hijack your chicken. To make your bird more comfortable we recommend using Pour-On Drench. We only recommend this opt if your hens are not laying as there is an egg withholding period on this for up to 14 days. Perfect to use on broody hens as they are not laying. This is a long lasting endectocide which kills both internal and external parasites. However it will not get to the source of the problem which is usually your hen house.Pour On Drench
Quick and Effective for Hard to Reach Places
Use Nettex Total Mite Kill Aerosol Spray perfect to treat hard to reach areas of the housing such as cracks and crevices. It is a highly effective insecticidal spray for use in chicken housing against mites, fleas and other flying and crawling insects. Long-lasting, residual action continues to work even after drying. Contains pyrethrum.Nettex Total Mite Kill
Instant Boost for Your Hens ❤️
Poultry Mite Rescue Remedy is a liquid complementary feed designed to assist with the recovery of symptoms of a red mite attack such as lethargy and anaemia. Give your hens a boost and assist them to bounce back after a red mite infestation. Use during & after a red mite infestation. Just add to their drinking water.
Also makes an excellent all round supplement as contains just about everything they need including proteins.
Quick & Ready-To-Use
Having a bottle of Ready-To-Use Nettex Total Mite Kill handy is always good. Regularly check your hen house for areas that might need a midweek spot spray. This product does not require rinsing off. Leave to dry fully (at least two hours) before returning birds to housing. Especially target perches and nesting boxes.Nettex RTU Spray
Dust DE for Residual ControlDe-Mite Powder
We recommend regular dusting with Appletons De-Mite Powder to keep perches and nesting boxes MITE FREE and if this becomes part of a regular weekly routine then mites should never become an issue. Our handy powder applicator makes application easier.Powder Applicator
Eradicates Pests Physically not Chemically
Apply RX For Parasites to nesting boxes and poultry bedding. The uniquely sized particles pass through the exoskeleton blocking the stomach tract and simply dehydrates. The pest can not build an immunity to the product therefore it works long term. DO NOT apply directly to animals.RX for Parsites
Protect Yourself 😷
Wearing a facemask is essential when cleaning your hen house or chicken coop. Avoid fine dust particles and chicken dander from entering your airways.Face Masks
Remember, Prevention is Better than Cure!
The best way to keep on top of them is with regular coop maintenance.
Check your coop weekly. Dust weekly with De-Mite Powder on perches and in nest boxes.
Regularly give your chicken coop or hen house a thorough (deep) clean. Most of all be observant.
Worm and check birds for external parasites on a regular basis.
However, if detection goes unnoticed, or you do not know what you are looking for, or your life just gets too busy …. then you one day you mite be surprised!!
Prevention is honestly the easier option 😉
Go and check your hen house now just to be sure!