Chicken Mites

Chicken mites are often confused with Northern foul mites, but are a different type of bird mite species. These pests can be a problem, particularly with smaller chicken coops. Chicken mite (chicken lice, chicken fleas, or chicken parasites) infestations can cause chicken or other fowl to look sickly or weaken their immune systems and lead to other chicken diseases. 

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Chicken Mite Identification and Life Cycle

These chicken parasites look dark brown or black, sometimes red if they have just fed. They are just visible to the naked eye. Also known as red mites, the chicken mite has a complicated life cycle with periods of feeding and non-feeding, but under favorable conditions a life cycle can be completed in 7-10 days. Adult mites can go weeks without feeding on a host.

Chicken Mite Activity and Effect on Bird Hosts

Chicken mites are a nocturnal mite species that feeds on their chicken hosts during the night and hide in cracks and crevices of poultry houses during the day. Symptoms of a chicken mite infestation are bloody lesions on the host birds, and if the infestation goes unnoticed the birds can begin to look sickly and are more susceptible to disease and infection. The only way to identify the source of these lesions is to check the chickens at night. Chicken mites can bite humans if they are searching for a host.

How to Get Rid of Chicken Mites

Cleaning and disinfecting the infested poultry house is the first step in treating chicken mites. After cleaning, applying chicken mite treatment such as a pyrethrin dust around the poultry house or a permethrin dust you can apply to your chickens for added protection. Using a spray pesticide formulated for mites (Talstar) can get into all the cracks and crevices and can be applied to the nest boxes (remove bedding before applying). Spray roosts and equipment and areas around the poultry houses. 

Information via experts, Ohio State University Extension, Purdue University Extension, and the University of Florida IFAS Extension.

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