Pine Needles for Mites?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by SweetJoy7, Feb 9, 2016.

  1. SweetJoy7

    SweetJoy7 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 22, 2013
    Hello! We heard something about using pine needles for mites in birds. Has anybody tried this? Fresh pine needles or dry pine needles? Thank you!
  2. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    I've had pine needles in my coop in the past and it hasn't made a difference in louse or mite populations. Most of the kinds of natural prevention methods like this that some people tout end up quite useless or very near it; believe me, I'm all for natural and organic keeping methods, but bugs are the one place I make an exception. Both mites and lice can kill a bird if there are enough of them, and they breed and spread quickly. The only methods I've found to reliably kill and repel them are chemical; the exception would be wood ash, which can be added to coops and dust bathing pits and does a good job repelling them. DE also works to an extent, but can be detrimental to the bird's respiratory function and in my opinion isn't worth the effort and stress. That said, wood ash, while a great repellent, and a terribly ineffective treatment. Once you have them you need to go chemical - permethrin dust over the whole body once a week for three weeks. Fully cleaned coop, sprayed with a permethrin spray. A little known post-treatment repellent (based on advice from my avian veterinarian) is a spritz of WD-40 below the vent and on the hackle (on the top of the tail too if the infestation was real bad!). Keeps the bugs off for a while, with no detriment to the bird.
  3. flyin-lowe

    flyin-lowe Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 24, 2016
    I'm new to chickens but have hosted purple martins for almost 10 years and mites are a problem for them as well. A large percentage of Martin landlords use pine needles for bedding. It will not deter or stop mites.
  4. poorfarm

    poorfarm Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 8, 2016
    Old timer here. I only know of one "natural", "herbal", etc. remedy for mites in nest boxes, and it's likely not something you can get at this time of year, nor am I sure you will want to use it. That is tobacco stems. As an old time pigeon fancier, I can tell you we used to put tobacco stem bits in the nests. Depending on where you lived, you could get them from a farmer who raised tobacco, or some people grew their own. This isn't the ornamental tobacco grown for it's scented flowers, but the kind used for pipe or cigarette tobacco; I don't know if the ornamental kind would work, although since it's poisonous too, it might.

    The thing is, remembering back to when I worked part time in a greenhouse, nicotine from tobacco was the most poisonous, most dangerous stuff we ever used as a pesticide. I don't know how toxic the stems are to a bird nesting with them. I can tell you that it had no ill effect on the squabs, and it did keep them from being eaten alive by red mites in the nest. I'm assuming this is the same kind of mite thats a problem for purple martins, because they are found in the nests of a lot of "wild" birds like starlings, they suck blood, and a heavy infestation can kill the young in the nest. You don['t see those much any more in our coops etc. What you sometimes see on pastured chickens (from exposure to wild birds) is Northern Fowl Mite, which is bigger and runs around under the feathers. It's an irritant but not life threatening like the red mites, and easy to control by dusting with the poultry/livestock pyrethrin powder as suggested earlier.

    All the rest of the herbs you can grow around here that I know of are just aromatic, and may deter some kind of bugs from moving in, but don't kill them. Outside of herbs you can grow locally, of course, is the pyrethrum chrysanthemum where pyrethrin comes from; those flowers are also an effective insecticide but they are use by grinding them up, and not healthy to breathe the dust all the time. Hope this helps!
  5. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    Pine needles grow big crops of mites.

    I have to agree that Snuff of liking that Tobacco Stalks can hold down mite populations on your birds.
  6. Jensownzoo

    Jensownzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 7, 2016
    Saint Louis, MO
    Many modern pesticides work by affecting the "nicotinic receptors" in the nervous system of the parasite, so it doesn't surprise me that the tobacco stems work...but not something I would really recommend for chickens since a toxic dose of nicotine results in respiratory paralysis (and, of course, death). Maybe the pigeons didn't mess with the stems too much?

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