Chicken Mites (Dermanyssus gallinae)
Quick Look Pest Stats
Color: White(unfed), bright red(fed), grey-black(with blood meal partially digested
Shape: Oval, flattened from top to bottom
Region: Found throughout the U.S.
Bird mites most often live and feed on pigeons, sparrows, starlings and chickens. Chicken mites often migrate indoors from an abandoned nest. They enter through window frames or attics. Chicken mites can also be introduced via pet birds such as canaries, from pet stores where an infestation has occurred.
Chicken mites feed primarily at night, after which the mite drops off of the host. They feed on the blood of many hosts; pigeons, sparrows, starlings, chickens, cats, dogs, rodents, rabbits, horses and humans.
The mites are blood feeders and attack resting birds at night. They are generally white or greyish in color, becoming darker or redder when engorged with blood. After feeding, they hide in cracks and crevices away from daylight, where they mate and lay eggs. The mite progresses through 5 life stages: egg, larva, protonymph, deutonymph and adult. Under favorable conditions this life cycle can be completed within seven days, so populations can grow rapidly – causing anaemia in badly affected flocks of poultry. Young birds are most susceptible. The mites can also affect the health of the birds indirectly, as they may serve as vectors for diseases such as Salmonellosis and avian spirochaetosis.
Chicken mites can cause painful skin irritation on humans.
If you own or handle birds, keep the coops and bedding clean and inspect the flock regularly for signs of an infestation. Do not handle bird nests on your property, even after the birds have vacated the nest. If you have pets that spend time outdoors, inspect them regularly as they can become chicken mite carriers. Keeping pest birds from nesting on or around your property will greatly reduce the chances of having a mite outbreak.