Desperate for help with bugs in nest boxes

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by deacons, Aug 7, 2014.

  1. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am sort of at my wit's end- I have been fighting some kind of bug in my nest boxes very purposely in the past couple of weeks, and am not seeing much progress. I do NOT think they are mites, lice, or fleas, which may be why what I'm doing isn't working. Here's why I don't think its mites/lice/fleas:
    1. They are longish, oval shaped grey bugs with two prominent antennea in a "v" shape at their head (they are definitely not little round specks and never look red, even when I crush them. I have checked the roost bar after dark and don't see anything that looks like mites)
    2. There are not "swarms" of them the way I would expect with mites- if you picture very tiny ants moving around in an enclosed space, that's what they look like
    3. As far as I can tell, they are not on the chickens, just in the nest boxes (so probably not lice?)
    4. They don't seem to fly, they crawl around quickly almost like small ants. I do think I've seen some of them jump like fleas, but I don't think they look like fleas to the naked eye.

    Here is what I've done so far:
    1. Thoroughly scrubbed and vacuumed the coop a week ago
    2. Dusted everything, coop, nesting boxes, and birds included, with permethrin powder
    3. Reapplied permethrin dust to coop and nesting boxes on Sunday
    4. Sprayed birds with Poultry Protector on Sunday
    5. Removed all shavings from coop so it just has a sand floor
    6. Changed straw in nesting boxes three times in one week, and put the bare minimum of straw back in (much to the chicken's dismay- and at the cost of two cracked eggs)

    I see these little grey bugs crawling all through the permethrin powder, which is still sitting on the wooden surfaces of the nest box, so it seems like it doesn't affect them? There were fewer of them when I changed the straw on Sunday than when I changed it today, which seems like a really bad sign- I would guess there were at least double the number today vs. Sunday.

    I really want to figure out WHAT these things are so I can understand a) if/how they're bothering the chickens and b) how to get rid of them.

    Can anyone help me with this? I could include a picture, but they're so small you really can't make anything out.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2014
  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    Have you checked your straw that you are using when you change out the straw to see if the bugs are in the straw that you have not used yet?
     
  3. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Not sure if it matters, but the reason I started looking for bugs was because of some signs I was seeing in the chickens. One of them seemed to have symptoms of mites: most noticably a bald patch on her back (this has been there 2-3 months), but I was checking her faithfully for signs of mites or lice and never saw any of the symptoms until last week I saw dirty looking residue around vent/at feather base. She got a dawn dishsoap bath plus the heaviest permethrin dusting in the areas where I saw signs of bugs.

    Two of them seems to be dropping a ton of feathers- I went out to the run just now and it looked like a "feather bomb" had just gone off. But it doesn't seem like a molt, as the feathers seem to be coming off their backs and chests. The two that lost the most feathers are also the two I sprayed most heavily with the Poultry Protector Sunday- that makes me worried I hurt them somehow?

    I've never dealt with anything like this before and would truly appreciate advice from more experienced people.
     
  4. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ol Grey Mare-
    I threw away all my old bales and bought just one new bale to use for the nests for now. I pulled out a few stems, broke them in half, and checked inside- didn't see any obvious signs but admittedly am not entirely sure what I'm looking for aside from actual bugs moving around.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2014
  5. petrel

    petrel Chats with Chickens

    I'm seeing a few bugs in my nest boxes too. I don't use straw in them, just astro turf like mats. Pine shavings in the coop. My farm and garden center seems to think these little non-mite like bugs are there to eat the feed, not the chickens.

    Sorry, I'm no help. I've subscribed, hoping we both learn something.
     
  6. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That would certainly be good news! Hopefully we'll hear from some of the more experienced folks on here with their thoughts too.

    I did have a feeder in my coop but took that out when I did the big clean-out last week, mostly because I was worried about them stirring up the permethrin dust and having it settle on the food. Never thought about bugs wanting to eat the feed though.
     
  7. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just bumping this up to see if anyone else has any suggestions for us?
     
  8. Aronia

    Aronia Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Use dairy bomb.
     
  9. petrel

    petrel Chats with Chickens

    I stripped the coop last night. No bugs! Apparently they were just in the egg boxes, which really perplexes me. I inspected around the vent of a few birds that the children could catch and found nothing.

    I'm going to stick with a light dusting of mild veggie dust and de mix under the laying mats and de under the pine shavings in the coop and see what happens.

    Aronia is right. If you/we had a grain eating insect infestation in a barn or silo, a bomb would do the trick. I don't think I'm ready for that yet.

    I've done a fair amount of searching on the forum for related topics. Perhaps why we have not been inundated with replies is because volumes have already been written on this topic. I've skimmed through quite a few of the threads. Based on what I've read, I'm going to stay the course and see what happens. Also, based on that reading, if you are finding suspicious residue around your bird's vents, you may have a mite issue. The photos in those threads are worth a close look. Those threads also indicated that if a bird shows irritation to a treatment they should be washed and a medication with a different active ingredient or lower % of active ingredient should be employed.
     
  10. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Petrel, I expect you're right. The reason that I posted yet another thread on the topic of infestations is because the bugs just don't look or seem to act like the usual suspects (mites or lice), so I wondered if anyone could point me to another common bug in the nest area. Other types of nest box bugs is something I have not been able to find info on, either here or in more general Google searches.

    I also checked my coop over again last night and this morning, and am not seeing many bugs today. I cleared out all the nest box straw again last night, maybe I'm finally getting them out of there. I too will continue staying vigilant and hope it does eventually beat them back!

    Thanks for sharing the tip on possible skin irritation related to a specific product- that's a tip I missed in my reading. I can definitely give the two affected girls a soak in a gentle bath and start over.

    Good luck to you- keep us updated on how things go for you! :)
     

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