The chicken mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) is an external parasite that feeds on more than just chickens. Despite the name of this pesky pest, the chicken mite has a much wider range of hosts including wild birds and mammals. Once the flock is infected with these blood sucking mites, irritation can make them more susceptible to other issues such as anemia, diseased, and reduced egg production. Chicken mites feed at night and do not spend all their on the host. Instead they reside in nests, litter, and crevices during the day.
Adults are about one millimeter long. They are black, grey, or white in apperrance when they have no blood in their systems. Once they feed, they turn a red color, The chicken mite has four stages in its lifecycle: larva, protonymph, detonymph, and adult. Although the larvae hatch with only six legs, they eventually grow two more legs after their first molt.
Since chicken mites do not spend all their time on the host, they lay their eggs in the surrounding environment. They tend to lay about 30 eggs in their lifetime, which they lay in clutches. The larvae are sluggish after hatching and do not feed. Once the mite reaches the protonymph stage it begins to feed. Adults can live up to 8 months without feeding.
- Keep the coop as clean as possible.
- Provide a dust bath for your flock. Chickens will instinctively dust themselves to get ride of mites and lice. This can be a bin full of soil, wood ash, and diatomaceous earth.
- Avoid your flock from encountering other birds. Make sure to follow biosecurity measures after visiting other chickens or birds.
- Treat the coop with powders like diatomaceous earth or wood ash. These products dry out the exoskeleton of the mites.
- Insecticides for controlling mites can be applied throughout the coop. As always, make sure to read the label before applying any insecticide.
- Spray concentrates or dusting powders containing permethrin can be applied directly on the poultry. Again, always follow label directions for application.
- Cleaning the entire coop with soap. Remove the flock during this time. Clean the entire coop throughly. Use high-water pressure and when possible, hot water.