Mites are crawling up my legs.

JungleChicks

Hatching
6 Years
Sep 18, 2013
7
0
7
We are caretaking a property with a flock of chickens and I'm starting to wish we hadn't opted to keep the chickens. Every time I go out to feed and water the chickens these days, I have to pick several mites off my feet and legs. They are quick and tiny, brown and red. I bought the smaller container of diatomaceous earth at the feed store, which was good for two dustings on different days of enclosure/nest boxes/any birds who were sitting still in the nest boxes. After the second dusting, I had one day of no mites on my legs.

We have friends who are interested in two almost-grown hens to add to their flock, but I don't know as I'd want to perpetuate the mite problem.

If there isn't an easy, inexpensive way to combat the mites, I may push for getting rid of the chickens altogether (I'm sure having chicken feed out isn't helping with the rat problem anyway) and count it as a fun experience cut short by our lack of know-how.

Can the mites affect humans? Or the cat? What would be the best way to get rid of the chickens, if that's what it comes to? If they can't be given away, releasing them somewhere unpopulated could be an option, I suppose, as they were feral to begin with. (There are flocks of feral chickens in lots of places here.)

Thanks!
 

ChickensAreSweet

Heavenly Grains for Hens
9 Years
Jun 8, 2010
15,100
621
398
Pacific NW- where the Douglas Firs grow
I have dealt with mites a lot, so please listen to what I say here and try to follow it to the "T" if you can (because if you skip steps they will be right back):


1. Buy Poultry Dust at the feed store (permethrin). Sevin Dust works GREAT but isn't approved for poultry anymore. They sell it in the Garden Center at Home Depot. Some mites are becoming resistant to permethrin.

2. Shake dust all through coop after you get rid of bedding (also get rid of nest box bedding). You will want to spray the coop with the liquid permethrin and treat the chickens with liquid if you don't want to risk inhaling the dust (dilution on label).

3. Treat each chicken with tied-off sock full of dust, under wings, vent area, everywhere but the face (or use the spray). Wear mask, long sleeves, gloves, take shower afterward and wash clothes separately.

4. Repeat the treatment at 7 days for mites, and if you also have lice (straw colored bugs) with nits treat at 14 days too.

If you don't toss the bedding (even in the nest boxes) or repeat the treatment, they will be right back. So go easy on the bedding since you will need to toss it a second time. I now use sand inside my coop and scoop with kitty litter scoop and I don't have to throw it out anymore. I just mix my dust into the sand.

If you get them in the home, simply vaccuum and take a shower, bath, and wash your sheets. The Northern Fowl Mite (may be what you have there) can live for 3 weeks with no poultry blood meal. The red mite (lives in the coop and comes out at night) can live for 9 months with no poultry blood meal, but none of these mites can breed on human blood.

They do bite humans though and are annoying. So the trick is to eliminate all reservoirs (like nest box material) where they can stay without coming in contact with your permethrin.

I have successfully eradicated mites many times with this plan (dust). I spray the coop too periodically and use dust in the coop.

If after two treatments you are still seeing a few, go for a third treatment as if you wait you will have to start the treatment cycle all over again due to bug eggs hatching out.

I hope this helps - the mites come in on the wild birds. It is necessary to treat the chickens as mites can kill chickens, and will increase exponentially as they continue to hatch out more eggs.

Chicken keeping is fun and healthy, but when you have an infestation of these mites it is vital to use chemicals instead of DE to eradicate them from my experience. I had mites crawling all over DE before and they weren't dying.
 
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JungleChicks

Hatching
6 Years
Sep 18, 2013
7
0
7
Good to know! So they may bite us and the cat, but can not "live" on us? Is there any connection with rats that you know of when it comes to mites?
 

ChickensAreSweet

Heavenly Grains for Hens
9 Years
Jun 8, 2010
15,100
621
398
Pacific NW- where the Douglas Firs grow
Good to know! So they may bite us and the cat, but can not "live" on us? Is there any connection with rats that you know of when it comes to mites?
Rats have their own fleas and bugs...I know you don't want them around your chickens due to diseases they may pass to the chickens...I would assume they could pass bugs as well:


Did a search and found
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ig140
good general info but doesn't mention rats that I could find


http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/poultry/ectoparasites/mites_of_poultry.html
mentions rats under Northern Fowl mite
 
Last edited:

JungleChicks

Hatching
6 Years
Sep 18, 2013
7
0
7
It took some time to work up the nerve to pursue this. Checked into permethrin products at the feed store, but the property owner wasn't into using chemicals, wanted us to stick with diatomaceous earth. So we got a 50-lb. bag and used the WHOLE thing, forming a ring around the enclosure, putting more in the natural depressions in the ground for the chickens to dust themselves, particularly under the covered area. It looked like the covered area and next boxes got a few inches of snow while the ground outside got a good dusting! I would have liked to do more on the chickens themselves, but like I said, they're feral and nigh impossible to catch (except at night). We plan on getting another bag to do a second "treatment" after a week, and I want to catch and dust at least the hens we plan to give away.

Thoughts? What do more "organic" folks do to treat mites?
 

WalleyWaller

Songster
6 Years
Dec 14, 2013
257
48
116
Aiken, SC
I have dealt with mites a lot, so please listen to what I say here and try to follow it to the "T" if you can (because if you skip steps they will be right back):


1. Buy Poultry Dust at the feed store (permethrin). Sevin Dust works GREAT but isn't approved for poultry anymore. They sell it in the Garden Center at Home Depot. Some mites are becoming resistant to permethrin.

2. Shake dust all through coop after you get rid of bedding (also get rid of nest box bedding). You will want to spray the coop with the liquid permethrin and treat the chickens with liquid if you don't want to risk inhaling the dust (dilution on label).

3. Treat each chicken with tied-off sock full of dust, under wings, vent area, everywhere but the face (or use the spray). Wear mask, long sleeves, gloves, take shower afterward and wash clothes separately.

4. Repeat the treatment at 7 days for mites, and if you also have lice (straw colored bugs) with nits treat at 14 days too.

If you don't toss the bedding (even in the nest boxes) or repeat the treatment, they will be right back. So go easy on the bedding since you will need to toss it a second time. I now use sand inside my coop and scoop with kitty litter scoop and I don't have to throw it out anymore. I just mix my dust into the sand.

If you get them in the home, simply vaccuum and take a shower, bath, and wash your sheets. The Northern Fowl Mite (may be what you have there) can live for 3 weeks with no poultry blood meal. The red mite (lives in the coop and comes out at night) can live for 9 months with no poultry blood meal, but none of these mites can breed on human blood.

They do bite humans though and are annoying. So the trick is to eliminate all reservoirs (like nest box material) where they can stay without coming in contact with your permethrin.

I have successfully eradicated mites many times with this plan (dust). I spray the coop too periodically and use dust in the coop.

If after two treatments you are still seeing a few, go for a third treatment as if you wait you will have to start the treatment cycle all over again due to bug eggs hatching out.

I hope this helps - the mites come in on the wild birds. It is necessary to treat the chickens as mites can kill chickens, and will increase exponentially as they continue to hatch out more eggs.

Chicken keeping is fun and healthy, but when you have an infestation of these mites it is vital to use chemicals instead of DE to eradicate them from my experience. I had mites crawling all over DE before and they weren't dying.
Thank you ChickensAreSweet! This is a Big Help!
 
Last edited:

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
74,555
81,315
1,607
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
It took some time to work up the nerve to pursue this. Checked into permethrin products at the feed store, but the property owner wasn't into using chemicals, wanted us to stick with diatomaceous earth. So we got a 50-lb. bag and used the WHOLE thing, forming a ring around the enclosure, putting more in the natural depressions in the ground for the chickens to dust themselves, particularly under the covered area. It looked like the covered area and next boxes got a few inches of snow while the ground outside got a good dusting! I would have liked to do more on the chickens themselves, but like I said, they're feral and nigh impossible to catch (except at night). We plan on getting another bag to do a second "treatment" after a week, and I want to catch and dust at least the hens we plan to give away.

Thoughts? What do more "organic" folks do to treat mites?
I hope you wore a dust mask.

DE is ineffective if it's get wet, so putting it outside is usually a waste of money.

Easiest way to catch chickens is to take them off the roost at night well after dark.
 
Last edited:

WalleyWaller

Songster
6 Years
Dec 14, 2013
257
48
116
Aiken, SC
It took some time to work up the nerve to pursue this. Checked into permethrin products at the feed store, but the property owner wasn't into using chemicals, wanted us to stick with diatomaceous earth. So we got a 50-lb. bag and used the WHOLE thing, forming a ring around the enclosure, putting more in the natural depressions in the ground for the chickens to dust themselves, particularly under the covered area. It looked like the covered area and next boxes got a few inches of snow while the ground outside got a good dusting! I would have liked to do more on the chickens themselves, but like I said, they're feral and nigh impossible to catch (except at night). We plan on getting another bag to do a second "treatment" after a week, and I want to catch and dust at least the hens we plan to give away.

Thoughts? What do more "organic" folks do to treat mites?
Good Luck! It is a losing battle with DE if it is an infestation. And, like aart said, you need to wear a dust mask with DE because it contains silica.

Look at the thread below by clicking on the following link:

https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/922945/red-mite-how-can-it-be#post_14056731

Hope this helps!
 
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