good article on red mite control

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chickenfan
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good article on red mite control

Post by chickenfan » Fri Nov 02, 2018 4:52 pm

I think there was a 'guidance' section on the forum on management of various poultry things, but I'm not quite sure how to get to it? I've got red mite in some of my houses and am looking to find the best way of dealing with it. Not had them before.
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Marigold
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Re: good article on red mite control

Post by Marigold » Fri Nov 02, 2018 7:35 pm

Hi Chickenfan, I expect you're thinking of articles on the main Poultrykeeper website, see https://poultrykeeper.com/external-problems/
All the Forum threads about red mite are now in the Pests and Predators section, towards the bottom of the list on the Index page.
Do let us know how you get on. I hope the colder weather is going to send them to sleep to some extent!
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Re: good article on red mite control

Post by chickenfan » Fri Nov 02, 2018 11:41 pm

Thanks Marigold. Very interesting contributions. I didn't know about red stop solution, and interesting I could try a steam cleaner on the houses, which Rick suggested, and that diatomaceous earth should be painted on. What a helpful forum this is. I tried torching today and set my jacket alight without even noticing. There ought to be something sticky that they could be attracted to walk onto. Has anyone tried Barrier Red Mite x concentrate? This is suited to organic systems and has a sticky consistency but does not harm hens. There is also something you can put on hens (and other pets) called Eradicate which contains tea tree and other herbs, but perhaps its not necessary to treat the hens.

I also seem to be covered in little bites on my arms after torching the house, but perhaps this is coincidental.

Does anyone know how far they migrate if you put the bedding in a compost heap? Or how mobile they are if they fall off the house during cleaning?
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rick
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Re: good article on red mite control

Post by rick » Sat Nov 03, 2018 12:33 am

chickenfan wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 11:41 pm
I tried torching today and set my jacket alight without even noticing.
OMG! Be careful Chickenfan! Though, I must admit, Ive used a small gas torch to waft over localised red mite in the run Ive had plenty of practice charring timber and, still, it not really that sensible or safe! An electric hot air gun is safer - even a hairdryer would get things above the 45 degrees or so when they would be killed. 70 degrees - more than enough.
Ive gotten almost fond of red mite! They are amazing creatures! ...as long as your winning the battle!!!
They don't bite humans - well they could in theory, in very unusual circumstances but there is no way that they are that active at this time of the year. I think it must be a coincidence and its amazing how itchy things can get just thinking about bugs being around.
I will probably be shot down for saying they should be easily controlled - but there - done! They hide in the day and walk to the chicken in the dark when they are roosting an cant get away. Diatom on route can make it very difficult for them but a wing regularly touching the side of the coop they soon learn to exploit even if the perch is off limits.
Failing a mechanical break in their marching - Red Stop did sound very interesting though I haven't tried it.
But what has made you think they are active in the coop now Chickenfan? It has been too cold for them lately in the UK and they should all be dormant eggs at the moment.
... they are quite mobile - fairly easily walk several meters in the night but only when its hot enough for them to have the energy and then they would be desperate for a meal. They do get very desperate! I remember thinking i had cleaned the run thoroughly when we went on holiday and the chooks went on hols to boarding at the same time. When they got back there was a population of ravenously hungry mite in the coop - Ouch!
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chrismahon
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Re: good article on red mite control

Post by chrismahon » Sat Nov 03, 2018 9:04 am

A coop has to be empty for 9 months before all the red mite have died Rick. Presumably it takes that long because they eat each other. Based on my experiments they quickly die above 55C. An early indicator of their presence is ants as they eat red mite amongst other little bugs.

We've tried most things and have evolved an entirely successful system which means we have had no red mite for 4 years. It all depends on the coop design though- perches must lift out for daily inspection. It must be caught fairly early, before they have multiplied to the extent that the only available space is under the roofing felt otherwise that's got to come off.

First stage is a thorough steam clean with a fine jet to get into all the fine gaps, particularly into the weatherboarding tongue-and-groove joints. Whilst all the mite (and the eggs) in the coop can be killed this way there will always be some either brought in from the dustbath (potash doesn't work) or left on the birds. The second stage is to apply creosote ONLY to the underside of the perch ends and the hangers- the idea is to stop them getting off without burning the chickens' feet. If there are any still in the coop they will climb onto the roof and drop down to the birds and be caught on the perch. Then every morning inspect the perch and kill all the mite on it, which means either a Nettex spray or simply squashing them. Continue for up to 2 weeks, by which time they will all be dead. Continue a daily check and then weekly and in our case now every month.

I did random 1cm squares count on the first day after treating our large mobile coop- multiplying up 13,500 mites was the total. Within a week it was down to 10 and none after 2 weeks.

In our climate wrapping the coop in clear polythene on a sunny hot day and leaving it in the sun, turning round once does work as the temperature inside the plastic can get over 60C. But days like that, even in the South of England, are rare. You could try an electric heater but it may burn out?

Tried to make a trap a while back using a heated mat and fly paper and caught nothing- it's not just heat they are attracted to but pheromones and perhaps Carbon Dioxide (like mosquitoes) as well, because adding feathers to the trap didn't work either.

There is no doubt that creosote works but it is very nasty stuff and leaves the coop uninhabitable for weeks, even when applied diluted with paraffin.

There is a spray called Elector which works very well, is very expensive and can't be used the next year because the mites evolve immunity to it. It works on their neurological system, disorientating them so they can't find the chickens to feed and so die of starvation after two weeks. Great for an emergency though when a large area is infested. Perhaps you could use that Chickenfan?
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rick
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Re: good article on red mite control

Post by rick » Sat Nov 03, 2018 12:15 pm

chrismahon wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 9:04 am
A coop has to be empty for 9 months before all the red mite have died Rick. Presumably it takes that long because they eat each other. Based on my experiments they quickly die above 55C. An early indicator of their presence is ants as they eat red mite amongst other little bugs.
Yeah! I thought I had wiped them out when I cleaned the run but there was a gap under the construction of the shelf (I found later) where most of them were camped out. I think they just starve to death after 9 months if they cant get at a bird for a meal but, in nature, there would be a good chance of a bird roosting nearby in that time (next summer even) and then they are back in business.

They are interesting, and knowing the enemy is always key to winning! I think this is how they conduct themselves and it fits with all of the successful ways to control them that I have heard of (outside of insecticides and things that make chicken blood unpalatable in one way or another):

It starts with a single adult mite out looking for a bird or having hitched a ride in the day on a bird as a scout for new territory. The mite that is waiting for a bird might, annoyingly for it, have a bird land on a branch below it and then it can drop down but this is a bit risky as a gust of wind and it will miss. Still, worth a try - nothing to lose and might get lucky.
Once on the bird it can feed but, in order to be successful, it must get off before morning and find a crevice under tree bark or in the coop before morning. Preferably as close as possible to the roosting place. It has to get off because it can only lay eggs (the purpose in eating in the first place) in a crevice or suitable gap. On its way off the chicken it leaves a pheromone trail to follow back again next night.
In three days it will have laid eggs and hatched some nymphs which will need a meal to develop into adults. No problem, just follow the trail every night, reinforcing it with more traffic until, before long the hen is becoming aware of the nightly visitors and would normally abandon the roost for a more comfortable one leaving an expanded population of mite to venture out or wait for the next unsuspecting bird. Not an option for most domestic chickens and then the mite village becomes a mega city within weeks.

I think that is why masses of mite didn't show up on the hot plate Chris. A scout might have been attracted by the heat, which might have been a chicken, but it either got stuck in the trap (easy to miss) or moved on without a meal. No trail for the hoards to follow. Meanwhile most of the mite are sticking to the well signposted drive trough which must be there or there wouldn't be a large population in the first place.
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chrismahon
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Re: good article on red mite control

Post by chrismahon » Sat Nov 03, 2018 1:37 pm

Another reason for red mite hiding during the day is chickens will eat them. Another indicator of a mite problem is chickens scratching in the shavings in the coop.
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rick
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Re: good article on red mite control

Post by rick » Sat Nov 03, 2018 4:56 pm

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chickenfan
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Re: good article on red mite control

Post by chickenfan » Sun Nov 04, 2018 8:42 pm

Well that is all fascinating. Thankyou Chris and Rick. Its also a fantastic article on poultrykeeper.com from Tim Daniels. I'm still not quite sure, if I put the shavings on a distant compost heap, how this might affect the wild bird population? Apparently they hide in the gaps in tree bark if they get on wild birds. I was interested to find that even my open rain shelters (because I live on Dartmoor) are thoroughly infested with mites, and the frost has done nothing to reduce their numbers.
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rick
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Re: good article on red mite control

Post by rick » Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:15 am

Dont worry about the compost heap Chickenfan. Red mite are so common in the wider nvioronment that you cant change the effect on wild birds even if you had buckets full. Wild birds can choose where they roost and that naturally controls the wild mite population.
Can you post a picture of the mites in your rain shelters? I don't think that they are red mite.
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