Anti-mite perches

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Re: Anti-mite perches

Postby chrismahon » Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:26 pm

Seen it Rick. If they can't get to the hens via the perches they will crawl up the roof and drop on them. They can't jump up though- small relief. So unfortunately your perches only trap them on the birds, because they can just drop down off the perch onto the floor and crawl up the walls the next night.
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Re: Anti-mite perches

Postby rick » Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:19 pm

Well Chris - I have to say that must be pretty desperate behaviour on their part and much preferred would be to follow a regular pheromone path (like ants) from a favourite hiding place, along surfaces to the host and safely back again by morning. With just one or two staying on board to hitch a lift to the next branch in the wild.
As a moderate infestation is apparently 50,000 per bird then there will be a regular mite cascade going on every night from the ceiling. Personally I'm reading it as - if they prospectively follow the heat direction of a hen up a wall and across the ceiling (in a small box they may well do that) and reach a position where the only way to get closer is by dropping then they will.
It would be a precarious way of living in our run but I have to agree, and its unfortunate, that in a small coop or a commercial layers enhanced cage its too easy for them to get anywhere they want without expending a great deal of effort and do it all again two nights later.

Anyway - sorry for hotly contesting this - I do know my mites are getting pretty sharp for a plan B at the moment and its good to know what it might be . Its getting cooler now anyway which is a mixed blessing.

P.S. I've been a real pain in the ass with this thread and its only because I now realise (or have fairly recently) that we have had red mite all summer. When I took the roosting perches and shelf apart to rebuild I found old mite haunts that were obvious as such because they had white deposits of dead generations of exoskeletons amongst the brood. During this time the nearer hot spots that were obvious were rarely inhabited with diligent observation and clearing - for, on average, three weeks between spotting and wiping out. But they have been around all this summer and last (probably have been since first appearing about 3 years ago though that was the first time I knew what, an how, to look for them.)
I think, no evidence other than a hunch, that their presence has been related to raised calcium patches on the eggs because this feature disappeared recently though that was just before both Aerial and Bonnie stopped laying for the autumn. (who knows)
If I had a traditional set up (which being an oddball I don't!) then being able to strip down as much of it as possible is always going to be a good idea. And here I'll hazard an opinion - Mites are pretty natural anywhere there are birds. Problem is when we keep hens in one place - a wild bird would quickly shun a mite ridden perch (next night at least) and they would be in small numbers under tree bark waiting for the next meal. (unless the wildfowl population was out of control.)
As I said at the start of this thread, there are lots of ways of doing it. Don't worry if you get them (some dont) just keep a watchful eye and keep them screwed down to a wild population by whatever means possible. If we can keep them to wild population levels in the coop it really shouldn't bother the hens. It so easily gets out of hand though. The crafty little #@**###!
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Re: Anti-mite perches

Postby chrismahon » Sat Sep 30, 2017 7:32 am

I read somewhere that red mite detect body heat and aim for it. However, after constructing a heat mat and covering it with fly paper and catching absolutely nothing, I have to conclude there is more to it than just heat. I tried covering the papers with feathers but that didn't work either, so pheromones must be the answer as you say Rick.

We wipe out red mite by steam cleaning the coop first. Then, to get the mite off the birds and kill them (because lots don't get off) we treat the perch ends with creosote. This traps most of the mite on the perches and every morning the perch is removed, all the mite are killed and it is replaced. Takes about two weeks of that process to wipe them out completely. Sometimes a second steam clean is required and the perch process repeated. Red mite also live outside in soil baths so we add a small amount of potash which seems to work. Worst case was with the Orpingtons when the perch trapped an estimated 13,500 (based on random counts in 1 cm2.
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Re: Anti-mite perches

Postby rick » Sat Sep 30, 2017 10:32 am

That was a cool experiment Chris!
This has only just occurred to me properly from your prompt although I think I had a niggling suspicion -
Lots of insects operate this way - a bit like discovering the Americas. A scout mite checks out the heat source (along with other sensory leads) and if it strikes gold it leaves a pheromone trail on the way back to base (if it gets back to base.) More mite follow the trail and the trail turns into a motorway over a several nights.
--- like ants - not like Columbus at all really - mites don't return with potatoes :-)07 ...
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