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Red mite questions

Posted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 5:02 pm
by JoseyJo
So.... we have red mite in the chicken coop for the first time ever, and there are loads! I have washed down the coop and soaked thoroughly in Poultry Shield. I plan to do another soak in 4-5 days. In the meantime the chickens in are their old coop (which may also have the mites, as they have been connected, but I thought it better to thoroughly de-mite one then put them in there and burn the old one which we are planning on dismantling anyway.)

But I have a few questions..
1 - Is Poultry Shield likely to be enough for a pretty large infestation? I have some Johnsons Mite Spray which I could also put on before rehousing them, along with Johnsons Mite Powder which I believe is just diacom. I have read good reviews of Total Mite Kill and could buy some of that. I wanted to try the less toxic options first but I do want rid of the blighters. I will give them a dust bath with the powder in and could try to shake some on the birds although they're pretty flighty birds and don't like being handled. I'm also reluctant to get the mites all over me which brings me on to the next question...

2 - How easy is it to bring significant numbers of the critters into the house? I have seen them crawling on my shoes and up my arms when outside with them, and I've washed clothes and showered on coming in, but I also have a cat and I have seen one on her foot. If I walk into the garden, which isn't large, I see some straight away on my shoes which suggests they're spread around the grass. Will they disappear in search of a bird or will they come in the house either by themselves or on us/the cat? I have bought some Frontline flea treatment for the cat, in the hope that any which land on and bite her will be killed. I have read horror stories on the internet (I know.. I shouldn't) about peoples houses being infested. Has anyone experienced this?

3 - Relating to the above - how tiny are the tiniest mites? I can see very small ones (mostly pale coloured) on my shoes or arms, but I have read of people feeling crawling sensations without being able to see the mites... could this be red mite? Could they be on me without me seeing them? Obviously as soon I read this I feel itchy and don't know what is imagination and what could be real mites!!!

4 - If they are infesting the grass in the garden, how long will the hang around? Can I pour Poultry Shield around the garden?

5 - I know most literature suggests that the mites can only breed if they're biting birds, but again there are stories from people who think the mites are breeding in their houses (can you tell I'm getting a bit paranoid?) Does anyone believe this is possible?????

Re: Red mite questions

Posted: Thu Sep 01, 2016 8:44 am
by Green Aura
I can't answer your specific questions - never had chickens. I do know, however, that a lot of folks recommend a dusting of diatomaceous earth to keep spider mite away. Might be worth a look.

Re: Red mite questions

Posted: Thu Sep 01, 2016 1:35 pm
by Odsox
Well I can answer question 2 for you and that would also answer your questions 4 & 5
When we kept chicken when I was a lad they were always smothered in what we then called "chicken fleas" which were pale reddish brownish coloured. If they are the same as your red mite then the answer is they are not a problem.
They live on chicken blood and only chicken blood, they won't even attempt to bite you of your cat, and will quickly die (although I don't know if a parrot or budgie would be a substitute for chicken).
Carrying on to question 3, I don't know how small they can be, but I do know the tickle like mad and crawl all over your skin. I seem to remember they are all gone (dead) by the next day, although a hot bath would get rid of them quicker.

We never treated our birds and they didn't come to much harm. They were totally free range so only in the houses during the night. The only treatment was to spray the inside of the houses with pure nicotine (deadly poison !!) which of course could only be done between flocks.

Re: Red mite questions

Posted: Thu Sep 01, 2016 6:41 pm
by diggernotdreamer
There are lots of red mites around at the moment, they proliferate in hot weather. I use diatomaceous earth as a preventive measure all the time. Red mites live in crevices, so I rub it into perches, in their nest boxes, esp if I have a broody hen sitting around. You can also use it on the hens to get rid of lice. Red mites don't live on hens, they just come out and feed on them at night. The pale mites are the ones that are hungry and they can get on you and make you itch a bit, they may even give you a nip, but they don't like the taste of you. The ones that are feeding are bright red. I had a very bad infestation years ago, but I never had any problems with them coming into the house or breeding etc, they want to feed on avian blood. They can live without feeding for six months. Put your hens a bath with sharp sand and Diatomaceous earth and they can flap around in that. I have never used poultry shield, I have looked it up and the manufacturers sell it as a disinfectant, not an insecticide, that use is as far as I can see anecdotal so not sure it will actually kill the red mites, but I can tell you the DE does work

Re: Red mite questions

Posted: Thu Sep 01, 2016 10:22 pm
by JoseyJo
Thanks all for your replies. The mite powder I bought has diatomaceous earth in it (or might be only that) but it's a small shaker and I know the farm shop sells large tubs so I'll stock up. I had heard of using sand but didn't know sharp sand was good - probably easier to get than play sand which i was looking for, and cheaper. I can see the poultry shield has killed quite a number of mites as their dead bodies are evidence! I have just bought a 2nd hand eglu because after the joy of seeing hoards of mites creeping out of the cracks in the hen house, I have decided I'd be happier with plastic!

There are still some lurking in the grass as they're still crawling on our feet when we walk down the garden :? I'm not usually too squeamish but I really hate the thought of going out there at the moment and coming in with them on me.

Feel sorry for the chickens but on Saturday we can get them in the eglu and hopefully prevent the mites in the garden from reinfesting that.....

Re: Red mite questions

Posted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 7:30 pm
by JoseyJo
Just to update, when I washed the hen house again with Poultry Shield today there were hardly any live bugs on it at all.... maybe 2 or 3 that I saw. The hens were in it for the last 2 nights with diatom earth spread around, and they've also had it in a dust bath. I saw some dead ones in the DE.
There are still a few mites around the garden as I spent a few hours out there and every now and then found one crawling on my foot (which I was wearing plastic bags on so I could see the blighters and so I didn't get them inside another pair of shoes). Hopefully they'll disappear soon as I'm still not happy with the thought of bringing them in - being very careful to check for them then jump quickly in shower and put clothes in sealed bag or washing machine! Can't stop the cat picking them up but hopefully because we've treated her with Frontline any that bite her will die!
Anyway today we set up the eglu, doused it with DE and was happy to see that the hens went in there tonight (after we funnelled them into the run part earlier.) At least I know they'll be more comfortable as there shouldn't be any mites other than any they have on them and any which find the eglu. I'll be vigilent about checking it regularly to see if any appear. I've also lined lavender and mint along one side in the hope that they might repel any beasties!
We've decided to burn the old wooden house - maybe a bit drastic but I'll be constantly worried that there are mite eggs waiting to hatch in there.

Re: Red mite questions

Posted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 2:59 pm
by bonniethomas06
Glad to hear you got it sorted Josey, I missed this post but didn't have much to add other than have always been liberal with the DE and have not had a problem yet. I did re-home ex battery hens in the past and always came home crawling - gross. In fact I am itching all over reading this!

Re: Red mite questions

Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2016 6:36 am
by Flo
The idea of burning the old house is good. It certainly removes one place where the creatures could hide and which they recognise as home.

Re: Red mite questions

Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 1:18 pm
by JoseyJo
Hi, Yes the old house is now burned and I've been checking the eglu regularly - along with sprinkling lots of DE in it and in their dust bath - and so far so good.... I found a few live and a few dead mites the cat had brought in during the first week or 2 (checking where she had slept) but they haven't taken over the house so I think I was slightly over-concerned due to horror stories on the internet!
I have learned a lesson about how quickly mites can reproduce and I will be keeping a watch out for them in future.

On a very positive note, my chickens seem to LOVE their eglu - they huddle up inside it at times during the day aswell as at night, I think it provides good shelter from the wind (they are moulting so maybe need a little extra warmth at the moment.) I had never been especially tempted by one before but I also love it - so easy to clean.