What are red mites?
Red Mite (not to be confused with Red Spider Mite, a harmless garden bug) is a parasite that lives in your chicken house and feeds on birds whilst they sleep at night. These small but deadly mites feed on all parts of the chicken including blood, feathers, skin and scales. Red Mite infestations can result in poor health, low egg production, weight loss and, in bad infestations, death of the bird.
As our climate has changed, and our method of keeping poultry, so the instances of Red Mite have rocketed over the last few years.
Life Cycle of Red Mite
Red mites feed on the bird between one and two hours each night. They tend to live in cracks and crevices in the hen houses as this is where they deposit the eggs.
When the nest conditions are correct the mite larvae hatch 2-3 days after being laid. The time it takes for a mite to go from egg to adult is 7 days. This short cycle can cause Red Mite infestations to grow very rapidly. Even without a food source Red Mite can survive for as long as 8 months making them a very hardy pest. Constant vigilance is needed during warm weather but you should continue with a cleaning product like Poultry Shield throughout the winter as well.
Spotting the signs
An initial tell tale sign of infestation may be the reluctance of the hens to go into the house at night. The best time to check for Red Mites is early morning, when they can be seen easily by the naked eye. After feeding on the blood of the birds overnight the mites get their distinctive red colouring. Another tell tale sign is a build up of a grey dust in the coop, this is the detritus from the mite. Look particularly under perches and in perch sockets for live mites. The mites can also be found hiding in the dust on the floor and in the timber joints.
Red Mite eradication
If you are already suffering from a Red Mite infestation these are some ideal 100% natural, non-toxic products.
Poultry Shield is a liquid cleaning product that is best applied to hen houses with a pressure sprayer. Poultry Shield works by breaking down organic matter and eradicating the mites and their habitat, so they dehydrate and die. After applying thoroughly to the coop, and letting it dry, the chickens can re-enter. Safe for use on all animal housing, and also for cleaning feeding equipment. Available in 1 lit and 5 lit Concentrate and a handy 750ml Ready to Use Spray.
We recommend, as part of a two-prong operation, that you follow the cleaning with Diatom Powder (Diatomaceous Earth) when dry. This is fossilised algae with a crystalline structure which is highly abrasive to the mites waxy shell. Sprinkle throughout the house wherever the mite may hide e.g. perches and perch sockets. Diatom can also be used in a similar manner to a louse powder and can be applied directly onto the bird. It can also be sprinkled throughout the house, paying particular attention to perches and nest boxes, to kill any other remaining mites. Suitable for use in Organic Systems. Available from Flyte so Fancy in 450g, 1kg, 2kg, 5kg, 10kg and 25kg sizes.
This year there are many new products on the market to fight the Red Mite battle. We have smoke bombs from The Poultry Keeper Range and aerosol bombs from INSECTO, as well as permethrin based answers like Protector P Sprays or Ardap Aerosol. Please take a look in our Red Mite section to find your answer.
Red Mite Prevention
Apart from Poultry Shield and Diatom mentioned above, as a preventative measure, you could also use Barrier Red Mite Powder.
Barrier Red Mite Powder is an insect repellent for amateur use against red mite. Apply directly to poultry and sprinkle liberally in the housing paying particular attention to the perch ends, corners and crevices. Follow any Red Mite Treatment with Stalosan F , a powder disinfectant that destroys worm eggs, coccidial occysts & larvae. Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral action, highly absorbant and will help to reduce the ammonia smell created by the chicken's droppings.
If your birds are showing signs of aneamia or are looking unwell then give them a vitamin and iron boost with Lifeguard® Tonic or Poultry Spice .
Red Mite facts ...
... Red Mite do not live on humans but can produce a form of dermatitis if not washed off as soon as possible.
... Red Mites hate daylight.
... Mites transmit or cause Rickettsial Pox, Scrub typhus, Mange, Scabies, Dermatitis, Pruritis, Tsutsugamushi disease and other diseases.
... Red Poultry Mite only attack domestic poultry and pigeons/wild birds.
... Red Poultry Mite can survive for up to 8 months between blood feeds.
... The Red Poultry Mite is about 0.7mm long with an oval body and is normally yellowish brown in colour (before feasting).
... Red Mite can live in plastic chicken houses just as in timber houses, its just there are less places to hide.
Are you ready for them?
Red Mite in Chicken Houses is ©Flyte so Fancy 2010. Reproduction of part or all of this text is only possible with the express permission of Flyte so Fancy.