Dealing with bird mites; my home, my hens, my itchyness!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by showbizombie, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I hope my post here makes you feel better. The Northern Fowl Mite has made me quite miserable in my home on several occasions. I wasn't able to identify the bug until I took a bath and they floated up dead. They seem to be invisible until then. I have read a report by a university entomologist stating that despite popular reports there is no evidence of bird mites (red mite or N. Fowl Mite) being able to survive off human blood (or breed). Unfortunately the NFM can live for 3 weeks with no poultry blood meal, and the red mite can live for 9 months with no poultry blood meal. So if you collect numerous mites in the home they can make a human quite upset. Here is how I got rid of them (and keep them gone):

    Vacuum home well. Change and wash sheets.

    Take clothes off and place in plastic bag- keep in garage or wash right away after doing chicken chores. Jump in shower right away. I do this routinely now after chicken chores. This keeps mites out of the home while you are killing them off with the poultry dust, and if there are just a few in the coop or on the birds they are much less likely to make their way inside the home.

    I use poultry dust on the birds: place bird on back on ground - hold onto feet with one hand and use a tied-off sock to dust under wings, vent area. Turn chicken over. Dust neck and back. Not face. Then get the next chicken. Repeat this every 7 days until bugs are gone. With a severe infestation you might need to do this three times, 7 days apart.

    Toss all shavings in coop- including nest boxes (very important!!!!). If I don't change nest box shavings they come right back.

    Spray coop with permethrin or ravap spray (whatever is poultry approved at the time). Get all crevices if possible and under roosts. This will kill the red mite, which comes out at night and hides in the crevices during the day. The NFM lives on the bird but is found in nesting material and RUNS onto you- up your arms when collecting eggs.

    I was doing this treatment every 4 months and it was working but now must do it even more frequently, say every 2 months. If you don't repeat the treatment they come right back. It is just part of chicken keeping and is why I don't keep a huge flock anymore, since I have to dust everybody.

    You can set up a dusting box for them and put the poultry dust in, but they do eat it. I don't want that in my eggs, so I do it manually. I give them woodstove ashes when available and that helps.
    1 person likes this.
  2. Josieposie

    Josieposie New Egg

    Feb 27, 2013
    Brilliant! Thanks for the hope. Will get onto it right away.
  3. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Also I forgot to mention that whenever I have used shavings on the floor of the coop I get a terrible mite problem. Now I use sand (and shavings only in the nest boxes). I don't throw out my sand but I do sprinkle poultry dust generally around on the floor.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
  4. montecito

    montecito New Egg

    Mar 14, 2013
    HI - I'm working on a similar problem. Food grade diatomacous earth can be sprinkled around the house, the pens, under containers, barrels, boxes, on your mattress and any other place where you suspect there might be mites. It is not a chemical or poison and is harmless to pets and humans. It is silicate (formed of diatoms) but very fine. Used in grain storage and so on. Do not use pool grade DE. If you don't have a duster, you can use a sifter such as a flour sifter. Wear a mask when applying so you don't breathe it in. It works by degrading the exoskeleton of the bugs, then they dehydrate and die. Doesn't happen overnight but will continue to work, especially if kept dry, from what I have read. They can't develope resistance to it because it isn't chemical.
    Using a vinegar rinse on your head helps reduce the crawling little creatures, but of course they'll come back if you're still exposed.. It's more for temporary relief.
    I have found that some essential oils help as repellents. Last night I used orange oil and slept with no crawling or bites, after taking a shower and using the vinegar treatment. I put the vinegar on my head, put a shower cap over it and after about 1/2 hour, took my shower and shampood.
    Wash hot and dry bedding in hot dryer.
    I'm going to try eucalyptus oil, sprayed on body, as a repellent. Tea Tree has helped, but the other might do better.
    If you're going to be constantly out with your chickens, a repellent would be helpful.
    Good luck!
  5. montecito

    montecito New Egg

    Mar 14, 2013
    Hangings thing to dry won't kill the nasty little bugs. Dryer on hottest temp does a good job. If you don't have a dryer, go to the laundromat and use hot dryer there.
    Good luck!
  6. ellend

    ellend Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 24, 2010
    cleveland, ohio
    Diatomaceous Earth: ALWAYS wear a mask--you won't enjoy a lung transplant after silicosis. All natural, yes, but can still kill you. Helps in prevention, probably decreases the number of adult mites, but isn't going to get RID of an infestation.

    Dusting chickens: Fast and fairly economical method: Put chicken in plastic bag (preferably clear so you can see) with permethrin dust, keeping chicken's HEAD OUT OF BAG, and turn them as needed to get dust everywhere--especially vent area and under wings. Let the extra dust fall to the bottom of the bag, brush any excess dust off them using the bag that covers them, and go on to the next one. Dust once every 2 wks. and change bedding. I add dust UNDER and in shavings, also. You can save the bag of leftover dust for the next round. Here it is bitter cold, wet, and snowy, so we can't do a thorough job in the winter, but come hot weather my birds are getting regular quick baths and the coop will be thoroughly cleaned and sprayed frequently.

    Sparrows: Can easily squeeze themselves through the holes of what is commonly referred to as "poultry netting." (Flimsy, comes in cheap rolls.) Only a gap-free 1/2 x 1" rabbit wire (very stiff, not to be confused with bendable "hardware cloth") keeps them out here.

    Pls. don't be offended: Are you sure you are not being bitten by fleas? Northern fowl mites don't jump. Place your cats on white paper and comb them. If black specks fall off them, it's fleas.

    Bedbugs: Have made a massive resurgence. THOROUGLY examine the welting (bound edge) of your mattress, in the creases, for any dark staining. LIFT the mattress AND whatever it sits on, and look for small, flattened bodied bugs. Like other parasites, they will often bite only one bed partner. Will hide in picture frames, behind the covers of electrical switches and outlets, in clocks--anywhere they can squeeze into (and they are FLAT) that is dark and undisturbed.

    Flea bombs: Make sure you get good ones (make order pet product catalog, or vet) with growth regulator (residual) or you are wasting your money. Forget the pet isle flea bombs at the hardware, food, and average pet store. Never bother with the cheap ones--it's a waste. Flea bombs are good for whatever area the mist can FALL ON, only. You MUST use a (residual, growth inhibitor) PREMISES SPRAY for areas under furniture, in baseboard cracks, behind and under cabinets, the BOTTOMS of furniture and cupboards, etc.. Fleas have flattened appearance, as if you tried to pick one up off your skin between your thumb and index finger, and accidentally compressed the two sides of it's body. If it can jump, it's a flea. Bedbugs can run fast, or fall to escape. (Or fall on you from a ceiling vantage point!!!) Mites crawl.

    If you have nests in the attic or eaves, you would be wise to spray up there after removing nests.

    And, as has been mentioned, shower, and wash sheets in HOT water, and dry in HOT DRYER. If no hot dryer avail. to you, I'd boil those suckers in a large pan on the stove before hanging. Not for long--just a couple of minutes would do, after the water comes back to a boil with the sheets in it. Hot wash water from the tap is not hot enough. (If it's fleas, they'll jump off before you get the linens off the bed.)

    Discard any used vacuum bags immediately. If you use a bagless system, empty the cup OUTDOORS in the trash, wash it and the filter in hot water, let dry, and sprinkle a bit of flea powder onto a rug and vacuum it up and let it sit inside the vacuum until you use it next time.

    If you can bathe your cats without getting injured, and they have fleas, bathe them with a cat-safe shampoo that does NOT contain flea product, let them dry, and then apply your revolution drops. If you keep rubbing the shampooed cat to keep him/her warm, and leave the shampoo on for about 5 minutes, you'll drown lots of the adults--not all. MOST of them, however, are in your carpet, under your furniture, etc., so you must still treat the house, and any bedding the cats use. The bath will, however, help relieve your cats' discomfort, and give you great satisfaction watching the nasty things float down the drain, dead. It's worth the effort.

    CHICKEN EXAM: Northern Fowl Mites attack the weakest chickens (less dominant) most, (usually, but not exclusively!) so keep an eye on their vent areas--check under the feathers. If their vent is dirty, crusty, cracked, bloody, or the feathers are clumped together at the base with dark stuff, they have mites. Under those feathers might be horribly scabbed skin. Since it's bitter cold here, and I can't bathe, I had to bring a few into the house and hit their underbellies and vent areas with the kitchen sink sprayer, and blow-dry them before powdering, to give the poor girls some relief. It was awful--one was total scab under those feathers. I felt like a neglectful monster. Now I'm dusting with some pretty strong stuff to keep them at bay until warm weather comes and I can bathe before dusting.

    POUR-ON DOSAGE: I need to make a trip to get the Ivomectrin pour-on (no farm stores near me.) The dosages for different sized birds are on this website: Look under parasites, and type in. 5 drops at the back of the neck (where the chicken can't reach to preen) was the dose for a large breed chicken, if I'm not mistaken. One drop for small pullet/hen bantam (like Old English Game Bantam), two for small cock bantam, etc..

    Good luck! Write us with your updates, and hang in there!
  7. thejoyofchicks

    thejoyofchicks Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 7, 2012
    we had this problem a few summers ago. hot, humid weather seems to make the mite population explode.

    **in addition to dusting with DE powder, as previous posters have suggested, we would also clean out the nesting boxes --discarding the straw to a burn pile if possible -- and spray all the surfaces with Neem oil. this is an organic essential oil that is an effective pesticide/fungicide etc. i did a quick search on amazon, and this is the product we buy locally here in the states:

    however, i'm pretty sure that any brand will do. we found that the mites were living on the boards behind the nesting boxes, as well as on the roosts, so all those got a spray down weekly for awhile. hopefully neem oil is available in australia!

    **i wouldn't flea bomb ... it's not going to help. give the kitties a bath with some tea tree oil, use DE powder on the carpets and then vacuum thoroughly, wash the sheets and dry on hot heat.

    **in order to stop getting bitten, you will have to be vigilant. every time you go out to the coop, come in and get straight into the shower. clothes go straight into the wash. every time. it's a pain, but that's what my mom and i did, and the biting stopped almost completely, even while we were still fighting the mites in the barn. my step-dad was not nearly as diligent, and would come in and wait awhile. it was just too much of a pain and inconvenience to change and shower every time. [​IMG] so he would whine and itch. hahaha!

    **we also sprayed our boots off with the hose, leaving them outside, and put drops of tea tree oil on them.

    hopefully this helps you find relief!
  8. ellend

    ellend Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 24, 2010
    cleveland, ohio
    One more word about bedbugs: I (a nurse) had always heard / read about them biting on the body. My poor brother, a super neat, clean guy, had them come through the walls in his apartment building, and only found out because after MONTHS of an itchy head (I had checked him for lice, in case nieces and nephews had picked them up at school...) he checked under his mattress and found a huge colony. He wasn't getting bitten on his body until late in the game, oddly enough.
  9. lhamid

    lhamid Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 24, 2007
    These was a long discussion on Marans Chickens. This may help. I use Ivermectin for worms, mites and lice (directions here: and recently used the frontline on 8 birds I took from someone that was moving. I used a drop on the back of the neck on each bird.

    These mites spread like wildfire and will kill off a bird in a few days unless you catch them in time. This hybrid tends to hang out in places that are not typical and stay in a pretty small area, sometimes in clusters or balls........the outsides of wings, the backs of legs, and below the crop. So don't just look under the wing, the cushion or at the vent, you may miss them. They also tend to prefer some breeds of birds more than others.........including Giants and bantam cornish. It was and still is not unusual to talk with a well-established breeder about the mites only to have them shake their head and tell you they're just simply trying to "manage" them, having long since given up on trying to eradicate them. I finally worked closely with my vet, and a close friend who runs an orchard and raises Giants. Here's the only way I was able to finally eradicate them entirely:
    1. Coop/enclosed run
    A. remove all birds
    B. remove all shavings and dispose into bags, tied tightly, and take to landfill (do not put this in your compost unless there is no way your birds will ever forage through the compost later....ever).
    C. spray/soak coop and enclosed run area heavily with carbaryl mixture (shown below)
    D. refill with fresh new shavings.
    a. put a layer of cedar on the base and corners.
    b. put a layer of pine on top (inside the coop....I use cedar for my enclosed runs)
    c. spray lightly with carbaryl mixture
    2. Heavily infested birds
    A. dip birds in warm carbaryl mixture
    a. holding the bird by the feet and head, immerse the bird (holding the head out) back first and gently slosh back and forth until you're certain that the mixture has saturated all the feathers.
    b. lift and continue to hold the feet and head, and let the excess drain back into the bucket
    c. rub the mixture onto the bird's head
    d. place the bird in a holding pen on it's side and move away before it stands up and shakes off excess moisture.
    e. In the summertime if it's warm enough, the bird can be left outside in the sun to dry off. Check on the bird occasionally to insure the bird is not overheating, although that will be unlikely because the bird is soaking wet. In the winter, the bird will need to be taken inside. (I've only had to do one in the winter and she spent the night on a towel in my shower with the heater on low.) Remember, this bird's system has been weakened so it's important not to simply put the bird back in the run and expect it to take care of itself.
    3. Lightly infested birds and birds with or near the remainder of the flock (even if you don't detect mites):
    A. Frontline drops for small dogs - placed at the base of the back of the neck
    a. 1-2 drops for small birds
    b. 3-4 drops for large birds
    4. Heavily infested birds that you are unable to dip:
    A. Frontline drops (as above) or Frontline spray for small dogs - placed at the base of the back of the neck (note - I didn't use the spray)
    a. 1-2 sprays for small birds
    b. 3-4 sprays for large birds

    NOTE: Although I would have had to drink a few gallons of this mix to be adversely affected (toxic to insects, however), I dressed in full protective gear - rain pants, rain coat, safety glasses, and surgical gloves. I made a warm carbarly mixture in a large container, big enough to dip my birds. Once my birds had all been dipped, I strained the remaining mixture into my large (3gallon capacity) sprayer for use in the coop and runs. In addition to the water and liquid carbaryl, the mixture also contains shampoo (to cut through the bird's natural oils and more easily saturate the feathers), and stylet oil (to aid in adhering the carbaryl to the birds feathers long term after drying). Let me be clear about something at this point, I was on a mission to ERADICATE these mites. I have 1 1/2 acres and separate flocks and pens throughout. I am hard core about isolation, handling my birds regularly, and using surgical gloves which I change out of regularly and yet these things hit all but one small flock of birds. I have bird netting around most of my runs to keep out the wild birds. I had been fighting them for months. It took me two days to treat 80 Jersey Giants and that doesn't account for the time it took for setting up holding pens, and follow-up cleaning coops and runs. My birds tend to live in a very clean and dry environment and I run a "closed flock" (no visitors, no new birds from outside untested flocks), and I isolate birds when necessary which made thus outbreak particularly frustrating. If you're "managing mites", give these options some thought and give me a call if you'd like. If you're determined to keep on using DE for their dust baths and call it good, you're running on borrowed time. I have a friend who just got a pullet from a well-known breeder who boasts that she uses only "natural" bug fighting options, including DE. The pullet acted a little "off" and soon my friend discovered she was full of worms and had mites. There's nothing natural about these hybrid mites.

    Carbaryl 4L Mite & Lice Dip
    One Gallon: 1 gallon of warm water, 37ml of Stylet Oil, 47 ml of Carbaryl, enough shampoo to ensure a good soaking of plumage (about 4 tbs)......(also makes your bird/coop smell great)
    Five Gallons: 5 gallons of warm water (start with half and add the other half at the end to help agitate and mix up the other ingredients), 6.5 oz of JMS Stylet Oil, 8 oz of Carbaryl, enough shampoo to ensure a good soaking of plumage

    I also keep this mixture in a spray bottle for use in my crates and on my birds after a show.

    Something you need to make people aware of: the percentage of Carbaryl in different brands varies. Therefore, they are going to have to read the label of their product and do some math to get the right amount to add per gallon. The formulation of Carbaryl we used (which no one but me can get because you need a license) was a 43% active ingredient product. See the attached guidelines which you might consider sending out as an amendment to your newsletter.

    Also you can use another highly refined mineral oils besides stylet oil. Baby oil would work fine, as well.
  10. chickietutu

    chickietutu New Egg

    Apr 29, 2009
    Hi! I live in Hawaii and have lots of free range chickens. We go through the mite problem occasionally and have discovered Dio Tenacious earth to be a good remedy (Google it. It's amazing stuff). It's a white powder that's completely harmless to you and your can eat it, etc. but it kills fleas,mites, worms, etc. and is inexpensive. It's kind of messy, like white flour. I sprinkle it on the chickens, their nesting boxes, etc. We can get it at our feed store but you could also get it online. I don't put it on me because it's messy but I wash our clothes, towels, sheets, etc. and then use a bug repellent until the problem is gone.

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