Red Poultry Mites
Red Poultry Mites
Another common mite to invade our chicken coups is the bird or red poultry mite (Dermanyssus gallinae). It lives in the nests of birds, including sparrows, house martins, pigeons and poultry. All stages of development live in the structure of bird’s environments moving on to birds at night to feed.
The red poultry mite is 0.7mm in length and when indoors usually whitish with two dark marks which indicate the position of the gut. When fully fed with blood, the mites are bright red. The complete lifecycle from egg to adult takes about seven days. There us one larval and two nymph stages. Adults can survive for as long as three and a half months without food.
Most important in poultry houses – heavy infestations cause severe health problems to birds and lower egg production and in extreme cases can kill. Those mites which infest bird’s nests in the eyes of roof spaces of a house migrate away when the birds leave their nest. In their search for more food they enter bedrooms and living rooms, biting humans and sucking their blood (just like vampires) causing mush stress and discomfort.
In poultry houses there is usually never a shortage of food and the temperatures are consistently high making it ideal breeding grounds with infestations being very high. Such infestations can cause serious debilitating to birds, making them prone to feather pecking, flighty and suffering weight loss and noticeable lowering of egg production. Red mites can also kill birds by infesting their respiratory tracts thus causing suffocation. The incidence of these mites in domestic dwellings in urban areasis the result of pigeons nesting outside on window ledges.
Red mites are difficult to monitor post treatment causing problems in control. In commercial poultry houses a thorough cleaning by power washer or steam cleaner of housing structures both inside and out. Conventional insecticides for professional use only must be prayed into cracks and crevicesnear cages and sprayed onto all surface areas likely to be contacted by the mite.
Desiccant dusts like Diatomaceous Earth is also available for household or poultry farmers use. It is 100% natural, pesticide free, stain and odour free, harmless to animals and birds. Eggs can still be consumed during treatment. It cannot be overused but we advise wearing a dust mask and gloves as the product is very dusty but effective.
Mervyn WalshBA(Hons), HDip.EnvMgt, MRSPH
Field Conservation Biologist