Red mites are small but potentially deadly arachnids. They are blood-feeding parasites that live outside the bodies of their poultry hosts.
According to Gardening Know How, these arachnids are most active during the fall and spring. They come out at night and feed on the blood of domestic and wild birds.
A red mite infestation can cause your flock to develop heightened stress and skin irritation. Your hens will often experience a reduction in egg numbers. In severe cases, your birds can develop anaemia and die.
Unfortunately, red mites are quite resilient. You may have to perform several treatments to be rid of them entirely.
If you suspect these arachnids have invaded your coop, read on to learn how to identify them. We’ll also cover some methods you can try to get rid of them.
How to Identify Red Mites
Red mites are tiny creatures, which makes them hard to see with the naked eye. They are up to 0.7mm wide and 1.0mm long. Their colour varies widely, as they can be anywhere from very light grey to light brown or blood red. These arachnids’ eggs are even more difficult to spot, as they’re translucent and so small they’re almost impossible to see.
If your chicken coop has never suffered from a red mite infestation, you likely won’t know what to look for. Check out these tell-tale signs:
Red Mite Excreta & Blood
During the day, stand where your birds roost at night. Check their perch ends for red mite excreta, which is white in appearance and resembles cigarette ash.
Also, check for smears of blood on the walls of your coop’s housing and the bodies of your chickens.
At night, you may be able to see the arachnids themselves crawling around your coops’ perches and walls. Use a flashlight to look for these slow-moving pests.
Abnormal Egg Production
Red mites can cause your hens to not produce as many eggs.
Keep an eye out for where they lay the eggs they do produce. Infected hens may lay their eggs outside of the coop instead of their usual nest boxes.
If an egg laid by a hen has pale yolk, red mites may be feeding on her.
When an infestation gets bad enough, egg production will stop altogether.
Your Birds Are in Poor Condition
As a red mite infestation worsens, your birds will start to lose a lot of blood. You will notice a difference in their physical appearance. Both roosters and hens will have pale wattles and combs.
How to Get Rid of Red Mites
If you know that you have red mites present in your chicken enclosure, here are some methods you can try to get rid of them:
Insecticides are some of the fastest and most effective chemicals you can use to eradicate these arachnids.
These products work by damaging red mites’ nervous systems.
You should not use them on the birds themselves. Rather, you should apply them around the coop.
Choose an insecticide that works best for your chickens’ environment. For example, the Permost CS available at Dalton Engineering is a controlled-release insecticide ideal for long-term application.
Or, you can use our Permex 22E, which is a liquid insecticide ideal for application in hard-to-reach places.
Set Up a Dust Bath Area for Your Birds
A dust bath is a natural way to help your birds become mite-free. According to The Chicken Chick, they will roll around in sand, dry earth, or dust to remove parasites from their skin and feathers.
For the most optimal results, we recommend sprinkling Diatom from Dalton Engineering around their bath area. This diatomaceous earth product will expedite the rate at which they can get rid of their mites.
Set Up Double-Sided Sticky Fly Papers
Place double-sided sticky fly papers all around your chicken enclosure. You should be sure to target the underside and edges of the perches.
You can also use double-sided sticky tape as a cheaper alternative.
Use a Blow Torch
Use a blow torch around the crevices and cracks of your coop to kill red mites instantly. If you decide on this method, use caution to avoid setting fire to your chickens’ home.
Do not use this method on a plastic coop, as it could cause the material to melt.
Try Herbs and Oils
If your red mite infestation isn’t severe yet, you may be able to get away with using natural herbs and oils that you can find right in your kitchen. Some products you can try to deter rather than kill these arachnids include:
- Tea tree oil
- Soya bean oil
- Garlic and garlic oil
Target Cracks in Your Coop
Oftentimes, it’s not enough to target visible red mites on your chickens or in your coop. In some cases, you’ll have to go after them yourself.
Red mites can establish themselves in the cracks and crevices of your chicken coop. If you are having a hard time getting to them, try using Harmonix, available at Dalton Engineering. This product has a dust-penetrating formula that is effective on even the most robust red mites. It can get into the deepest cracks and crevices where red mites take refuge.
Red mites are tricky pests to get rid of. They can survive through many intense treatments, so it’s important to stay adaptable. You will need to find a treatment regimen that works for your particular coop.
As you’re dealing with a red mite infestation, exercise caution. While these arachnids are more likely to bother poultry, they can still bite humans and cause irritation.
To protect yourself from the intensity of some of the treatments, you should wear a face mask and rubber gloves during their application. Never inhale any sprays or powders you use.
Do not be discouraged if your initial treatments don’t produce the results you were looking for. Experiment with several treatments to eradicate red mites from your coop and protect your birds’ health.