Dermanyssus gallinae is a poultry ectoparasite. More commonly known as the red mite, it belongs to the Arachnida class and falls under the subclass of mites and ticks. These tiny creatures boast 8 legs and measure up to 1/10 of 1mm in size. The red mite is also frequently referred to as the poultry mite, roost mite or chicken mite. What is 100% certain: red mite or poultry mite; it’s same irritating pest regardless.
How do red mites spread?
You’ll notice few signs of red mite activity during the day, which is why most people are late in detecting them. Red mites or poultry mites hide wherever they can. In even the smallest cracks and crevices…take a close look in your coop and you’ll surely spot them. They look like small red or grey clumps. Their colour depends on the time of day. They are normally grey in appearance, however, turn red upon feasting on your animals’ blood.
Red mites begin to emerge from their hiding places once night falls and your animals go to sleep. Literally millions of these minuscule creatures, measuring only 0.1mm, descend on their prey. They nestle on your animals and begin their meal. As a result, your animals’ sleep is severely disturbed, causing significant stress. Upon daybreak and after their feast of blood, they retreat en-mass to their hiding place. They largely spend their day sleeping, digesting their meals and reproducing
What are the consequences for your animal?
Your animal will initially experience stress. You may notice that it no longer wishes to remain in its coop. However, after suffering several red mite attacks, the effects will increase. The animal loses so much blood that it begins to suffer from anaemia. And this is visible. Vague complaints progress into the typical symptoms of this condition, such as pallor and weariness. Fail to intervene and your animal will eventually die from a combination of stress and anaemia. What’s less well known is that red mites can also host other pathogens and are able to transfer from one chicken to another. Notable pathogens include the NCD virus, the pox bacterium and Salmonella Gallinarum, for example. Treating or preventing red mites using Avimite helps to combat this.
Red mite infestations in chickens.
Those most affected by red mites or chicken mites, are undoubtedly poultry farmers. We’ve received numerous questions about red mites from this particular group in recent years. And amateur chicken keepers are often tempted to give up their hobby completely, due to red mite infestations. Even though it can be such a wonderfully rewarding pastime. People are currently losing more chickens to this silent killer, than they are the fox.
Affected chickens become visibly agitated on their perch, may even refuse to enter the coop altogether and no longer leave a fresh supply of eggs (stress causes chickens stop laying eggs). Their once beautiful red combs begin to pale and, as the red mite is a transmitter of the E.Coli bacterium, they may also suffer from diarrhoea. They can become truly sick as a result. What’s less well known is that red mites can also host other pathogens, such as the NCD virus, the pox bacterium and Salmonella Gallinarum, and are able to transfer from one chicken to another. There’s nothing good about red mites or poultry mites whatsoever.
Unfortunately, there’s little point in getting rid of your chickens and starting afresh the next year. Indeed, red mites can survive without fresh blood for many months, even in freezing temperatures. And, just a handful of mites can develop into a huge colony in next to no time.
Purchasing a new coop every year is an expensive business.
Then there’s all that well-intended advice: using sand as ground cover, hanging tobacco sticks in your coop, burning cracks and crevices with paint stripper (a perilous activity!), steam cleaning, deploying a high pressure cleaner, whitewashing the walls with lime, plugging every nook and cranny with sealant, hanging perches in metal brackets (with or without first rubbing in heating oil) … yet none of these measures have proven to truly help. If you’re not careful, you can spend hours investing in only a temporary improvement. And, after just one or two months, your coop will be swarming with red mites again. We’re not claiming that these pest control methods don’t work. However, we do regard them as a stopgap. The only effective way to free your chickens from red mites for good, is by using a pest control agent. Until recently, these were always in the form of harsh, chemical substances.
Chemical products are frequently used in the treatment of red mites. Whilst a standard powder or traditional spray from your local store might help with common mites, these certainly won’t prove effective against red mites. So, you might as well save yourself the cost.
Vets also sell products that can be used to spray your coop… but you should definitely consider the consequences. Make sure that none of your chickens remain in the coop when spraying, and always use safety goggles, gloves and a mouth mask. Remember; you’ll only eliminate red mites in those areas that you actually spray, so make sure you target each and every crevice. Don’t forget perches and laying nests. And keep in mind: these sprays are so toxic that you must discard your eggs in the first three weeks (as they will no longer be suitable for consumption). You might wonder; if such products are so poisonous, are they healthy for my chickens?
We, too, were at our wits end. So, we went in search of a solution. Our requirements were clear: the ideal red mite treatment had to be non-toxic, 100% biological, easy to use and highly effective against red mites. We searched long and hard, to no avail.
Thus, there was only one course of action; to bring our own product to market! Not only for our own use, but for those countless others also seeking an effective solution!
Red mite in other birds and animals.
Many other types of birds other than chickens are affected by red mite or poultry mite. And, we’ve not only encountered infestations in birds. Indeed, owners of rodents and reptiles have even approached us for help!
Keeping animals has not been much fun in the last 3-4 years. It seems as if, no matter how hard you try, the red mite simply cannot be kept at bay.
And once they’ve taken hold in your coop, hutch or cage, it’s a struggle to get rid of them.
Bird lovers are the one group of people we can definitely help. Regardless of whether red mites are infesting your canaries, birds of prey, parrots, pigeons, ducks, turkeys…Avimite can be used in exactly the same dosage as for chickens. Avimite is 100% biological and thus has no influence on moult, rearing, performance, colour …or anything else for that matter. It’s also recommended that you start treatment with Avimite before a red mite infestation begins. Such preventative measures are the only guarantee that your animals will remain free from red mites. After all, prevention is better than cure.
If you do detect red mite in your birds, then follow the same course as for chickens: Add Avimite to drinking water for 7 consecutive days, then once weekly for 5 weeks, followed by a once monthly maintenance dose. The same dosage also applies: 3ml of Avimite per 4 litres of water. If you happen to keep only a small number of birds, then you can prepare 2 litres of water with 1.5 ml of Avimite instead.
Unfortunately, Avimite hasn’t yet been tested on rodents or reptiles. We are, however, working to deliver a swift solution for these animals too! We’re certain that our product is completely free from any substances that are harmful to rodents or reptiles. We’re increasingly hearing that Avimite eliminates ticks too. So, it’s looking extremely promising!