How to get rid of a Serious Red Mite Infestation.

I went on holiday for a couple of weeks to come back and find one of my chicken houses was full of red mite! Not just on the ends of the perches but in every crack and crevice and in every corner. Red Mite are notoriously difficult to remove once they get a grip on a chicken house. When the weather is warm, red mite multiply very quickly and before you know it, you’ve got a serious infestation to deal with.

Dealing with a serious red mite outbreak

So how do you deal with such a serious red mite infestation? Normally, for small numbers I would wash the house down with poultry shield and use a number of other red mite products (the link takes you to my top 8), here and there to kill off these unwanted visitors but with so many mites in the chicken house, more serious action was required. Here’s what to do:

Allow yourself a good couple of hours…

  • Washing Chicken House
    Cleaning the chicken house to remove red mites

    Clean out the house, remove all loose bedding material. Strip the house down as much as you can. Remove as many parts as possible including pop holes, automatic pop hole openers and anything else that will unscrew easily.

  • If you have a felt roof, remove this – yes, unfortunately you will need to re-felt the roof. If you don’t you will find millions of red mites will still live happily under the felt.
  • Using a high pressure hose / pressure washer, wash the house and parts down. Get the spray in every crack and crevice. This will take about 45 minutes if done properly. If you miss a crack, hundreds of mites could be hiding in there so it’s really important to ensure you get into everywhere possible. The spray will bounce back and soak you at times so wear old clothes and be prepared to get wet.
  • Wait for the house to dry 10 to 15 minutes. Now look at it carefully – you should see red mites crawling around. These are the guys you missed that are coming out because they have been disturbed and are wet.
  • Sprinkling Diatom
    Spread generous amounts of Diatom on the bedding material.

    Go over the house again from top to bottom, again concentrating on the cracks.

  • Repeat the above process as many times as necessary until there are very few mites coming out. The more you remove, the better. Even small populations can multiply quickly.
  • Put your house back together. If you had a felt roof, leave re-felting until you are mite free for a couple of weeks. A temporary waterproof material should be used – plastic is ideal.
  • Sprinkle a generous amount of diatom onto the bedding. The manufacturers recommend 500g per M2 which is quite a lot.
  • Put a handful of diatom into your hand and rub it
    Rubbing Diatom into Perch
    Diatom should be rubbed into perches

    into each perch, taking particular care around the ends and the underside. When you have finished it should be white and smooth, like a gymnasts bar.  Red mites have to crawl over this to get to the chickens at night.

Monitor the house for a few days, particularly on perch ends and re-apply diatom to the perches every couple of days or as soon as it starts to wear off.

If you have got into all of the cracks successfully, you should notice a drastic reduction in the number of red mite in the house – if you still find reasonable numbers, make up a spray mixture of poultry shield and spray onto these areas using a hand held plant mister.

Continue using diatom for a few weeks until there are no more signs of red mite.

You will find lots of articles in the Red Mite section, there are also other posts about Red Mite in my blog – including My Top 4 ‘Safe’ Red Mite Products

If you have any other tips on controlling red mite or would like to leave a comment then please feel free to do so below.

Click to see Diatom products on Amazon

You can buy Diatomaceous Earth from specialist poultry product suppliers.

I usually buy a large tub around 2KG as shown to the right but I also bought a small puffer bottle / shaker that is useful because you can refill it from the big tub making it easier to apply and less wasteful.

Good luck – I hope you manage to get on top of your red mite.

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Tim Daniels

Tim is the founder of the poultrykeeper website and lives in Bedfordshire, UK. He keeps Light Sussex large fowl, Silkie bantams and hybrid layers for eggs, Abacot Ranger ducks, Brecon Buff geese and some quail.

Latest posts by Tim Daniels (see all)

  • james cowell

    what happens if you have contaminated your home. I have read they cannot reproduce without an avian hos, in which case though they may be a nuisance for a while they will die out naturally over a period of time. I have read this could be 36 weeks. Is this information correct?

    • Tim Daniels

      I have never heard of a home being infested with Red Mite. I would consider using a household insecticide (flea treatment) spray on the infected areas. Indorex is one available from vets. Yes, Red Mite can live off their host for 6 months – I have tested this – they stay white but still live… They usually only crawl on you and make you itch but they can also get a blood feed off other species, including us…

  • Caroline Fabian

    We have a mega problem – we have some chickens in coops (rare breed flighty birds) and our lovely hens who are free range and give us lovely eggs. These 10 birds roost at night in one of my stables where they can get up high and I shut the stable doors at night to keep them safe.They lay their lovely eggs for us in the manger.
    Having finally realised that we have these mites (even tho we have had them crawling all over us for 10 days or so) durrh!
    We have found the birds somewhere else to sleep tonight and have dusted them with red mite powder.
    The coops will be dismantled and sprayed with creosole (?) tomorrow – we will not put the birds back until they are safe from the mites.
    What i wanted to ask was – what do we do about the stable -it is brick and is connected to 3 others, which have my goats , pigs and the end one is used as a feed store for my hay and feeds etc…
    How do i clear them.. is it possible and …..
    Will they be crawling all over my goats.. also I have geese… will they have them too. What should i treat them with.
    Sorry its longwinded but i want rid of these horrible creatures asap and will do whatever it takes.

    • The new ‘Creosote substitute’ will not work… Red Mites are very hard to get rid of. See our Red Mite Article on the main site for some ideas – but basically I would try to pressure wash the cracks and crevices out first – or use a steamer like you use on wallpaper. Look for them – they are usually found near to where birds roost as the mites feed at night in cracks – look for grey / dust coming from cracks as well as the mites and concentrate your efforts around these areas. They will be localised to where the poultry are at night and maybe in the nest boxes too. They normally only bite poultry so your goats should (hopefully) be ok. They can have a blood feed from other species though sometimes. Ducks and Geese don’t usually get them because they don’t sit in one place at night and their feathering is tighter and they don’t roost but I would check their sleeping quarters all the same.

  • Caroline Fabian

    Ive washed houses with jet wash and soaked with Jeyes – then have soaked several times with strong Poultryshield.
    Powdered as much as i could, powdered chickens, sprayed chickens with Frontline – new wood shavings, put them all to bed.. only to discover they are still there – not as many but enough to do some damage.. so have resprayed every day… I cant think of anything more to do – ill keep spraying until i dont see anymore and then.. ill keep spraying just to make sure
    Thanks for your help

  • Tim

    Diatom takes a while to work – if you powder the perches, rubbing into the perches daily or as often as required, the mites have to crawl through it to get to the birds. After a while (a week or so) I found the odd mite sat in diatom along a perch, tapping off, it is dead and doesn’t crawl.

    It does take a while for a heavy infestation – keep the diatom going. Spraying poultryshied is fine but remember it is a contact spray so must come into contact with the mites.

    Another thing to remember is eggs will hatch after a week – so new (very small) red mites will be present for a while.

    Mites can survive a long time without a feed – but while the chickens are there, they will still try to feed and should eventually meet their match with the diatom.

    Good Luck.

  • Mandy

    My chickens keep getting mites, We have power washed down the house, nesting box etc sprayed everything with poultrysheild everyother day & every eve powder with diatom everything including chickens & they still keep coming back.. Can anyone tell me what else I can try & why do they keep getting them??

    • It does take time. I have checked this house several times over the last week and finally they seem to have gone.

      You must ensure there is no infestation left that hasn’t been pressure washed – eg under felt roof. Washing down then waiting for the house to dry will bring more out – they will be crawling around – re-wash until there are very few left – this can take a couple of hours to do properly.

      The diatom must be re-applied to the perches regularly. You must be generous with it – they say 500g per M squared on the tub. Some tubs are only this size. I buy in 5Kg tubs as in the long run it’s cheaper.

      It will take a few weeks but you must keep checking at night and look where they are now going (you often find a small clump of them in a diatom free area) and look to see if they are still on the underside of the perches. Don’t give them a diatom free path to your hens – keep the perches well dusted and slowly the remaining few will die off.

      There are other things you can try – take a look at the RED MITE section for other ideas.

      Good Luck!

  • Carol

    I have just treated a chicken house with Creotreat, an oil based wood preserver, in order to get rid of a heavy infestation of red mite. It worked a treat!! Having painted into all the cracks mite emerged and died within a couple of minutes – was surprised how many there were! Also painted the ceiling rather that remove the felt – found this has worked before. Thanks for the tip on Diatom Tim! Have used this product before and not found it to have the clout required. Also keeping goats and pigs I have found some goats and young pigs are susceptible to chicken mite, esp. when housed in winter quarters where chickens also roost. I use ivermectin inj. Crovect, and Battles mite powder. My main building is approx 100 feet long, not a small task when cleaning and getting rid of mite, also traditionally constructed with straw insulated roof LOL! Working on it and vigilant ;0)

    Since finding the red mite in a small out building, and treating it, I have been itching like Billio!! Changed clothing and showered, will not go away, no sign of mite. Would add, this is the first time I have had red mite in my birds for over 50 years, change in weather is bringing about seldom seen infestations together with those not common to the UK. Kind regards – enjoy your birds folks!

  • Leigh

    Thanks so much for all this. Am just experiencing first red mite infestation, which I am ashamed to say has taken me over a week to recognise. The mites are crawling all over the place – have just been out to wipe everything down (it’s an egloo), change bedding, and smother the edges of the nesting box with vaseline. Am planning Armageddon for the little buggers in the morning.

  • Gill Davis

    Thanks for all the info. I have just read about Smite has anyone tried it? Also when the coop is power washed – don’t the red mites just live on the ground and then reinhabit the coop?

    • admin

      Gill – No, many of them get displaced a long way from the house in the spray – You can check there are none crawling up the legs of the house as it dries – I haven’t seen them doing this but if you find some are, you can put vassalene around the legs as a barrier.

      Leigh – I have never heard of a house being infested. What I have found is they will crawl on you (and itch like crazy) but once you have a shower, they are washed off and do not bite you. They can live for 6 to 8 months without a feed but unless they feed cannot multiply so lie dormant – this should mean that any carried into your house may live for a while but have nothing to feed from and other than crawling on you and itching should can’t feed from you so do not bite. I would check they are actually red mites in your house.

      Whatever it is that is biting you could be killed off by using a house flea spray from your vets – there are several available that are too strong to sell over the counter so have to be sold by vets – they are not cheap – £14 or so for a can – follow their instructions but usually if you spray this over the carpets, around the edges, cracks and so on and leave the room, door closed for a while it kills fleas, mites, ticks and so on.

  • Leigh

    Update: have, so far, managed to eradicate the mites from the chicken house (an Eglu), using a combination of Barrier Red Mite Concentrate at 20:1 (a natural mix of essential oils – completely safe), followed by Vaseline everywhere, followed by a heavy dusting of diatom – particularly on the perch ends and in the nesting box, but everywhere else too. I also moved the house about fifteen feet from its previous site. Only six mites spotted on the first evening after cleaning, and only one seen on the five nights since. Am planning a second thorough clean-out tomorrow, and every five days for at least three weeks.

    Two notes about red mites and Eglus:
    1. There seems to be some defect in the moulding process, meaning that many of the surfaces, when closely inspected, can be seen to be pitted with mite-sized holes. I smeared Vaseline over these having spotted some little red blobs hiding in them.
    2. The main parts of the Eglu are hollow, with nice big holes (~10mm) through into the cavities, including one that can only be accessed by unscrewing the whole thing and taking it apart – what the manufacturers were thinking, I just don’t know. There is no way of accessing these cavities, and no way of knowing what’s lurking inside. Dumb design, or what? I filled the holes with Vaseline, after squirting in a (un)healthy dose of Red Mite Concentrate.

    My only major problem now is that the mites are in the house (my house), and are biting me at night. Have also treated the bedroom as though it were a chicken coup, but it’s not working yet (chicken coups don’t have mattresses, pillows and carpets…). Any further advice gratefully received.

    (Sorry for such a long comment)

  • Amanda

    Totally amazed. Once i knew what to look for there were millions. I did as you suggested and striped the coop down taking off as much as i could. There were millions, i steam cleaned the hut. After 4 hours they were still pouring out in black rivers. In all the cracks in the tongue and grove. Just wished I knew what i know now, I wouldn’t buy such a well made hut. We smoke bombed the hut, and still found that some had survived. I have put vasaline in all the screw heads, crackes, joins and any rough wood. I used the diaton over all
    the bedding and purches. Each hen has also had a dust bath in the powder. Not sure if i’ve got rid of them all but, i’m on the way. The hens are now laying twice what they did before in just a few days. I would recommend washing all clothes straight away and showering, because the mites get everywhere.

    I also sprayed the whole hut with poultry spray.

    • Tim Daniels

      Keep up the diatom Amanda! – you will really be amazed if you look in a few nights to find there are still some crawling on the perches…that’s what usually happens even though most of us clean very thouroughly. If you rub down the perches every few days for the next few weeks and keep diatom dusted around you should really get rid of them. Now the weather is cooling, they will go dormant so be wary next summer when it warms up again as even a small clump of mites will become thousands in a week!

      Sounds like you had a big infestation! Hope you didn’t have a felt roof or it’s off with the felt!

  • Hello from Canada, My wife and I help my parent to run a large organic free range egg farm with over 1000 hens. We have mites and have come to understand you can’t completely get rid of them not on our size too many barns (4). We have found that 1 cup of sugar, along with 1 cup food grade 35% Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) mixed and sprayed as a light wash on every surface of the barns and equipment will kill mites on contact, but not eggs so you have to spray every 3 days. The sugar makes everything sticky so you then take a hand duster and dust every surface with diatom. We also put peatmoss mixed with diatom in large tubs as dusting bowls. Again we do this every 3 days if there is a breakout and if the mites are under controll every week. Hope this helps.

    • Tim Daniels

      That’s a useful tip, thank you. Diatom really does seem to work, it’s just not a fast ‘knock down’ and takes a while I’ve found.

  • Shala

    Unfortunately, I found red mites this morning while changing the bedding in the nesting boxes. I’ve cleaned them out and dusted them with Sevin 5%. I’ve read that I can also dust the chickens with this also, which I plan to do. My question is… can you still consume the eggs if Sevin 5% is used?

    • Tim Daniels

      I’m afraid I have no experience using Sevin 5%. I would imagine the pack would state that you must not consume eggs if it was a problem… There may also be a safety data sheet available from the manufacturer.

  • ellie

    Hi all
    been really useful to read all the tips on red mite – a problem i’m currently grappling with. I’ve disinfected the whole house with mite killer and I’ll definitely get old of some diatom. I just have a question that’s probably a bit silly, but how do you properly dust your hens with red mite powder? I tried earlier and it ended up being some kind of slapstick farce! One of them is quite happy to be held and given a liberal dusting but the other 2 didn’t like it AT all and only let me do their backs before flapping like crazy and escaping leaving me looking like a snowman covered in powder! I wanted to get some on their chests as I’ve noticed them pecking themselves a lot there but can’t get it there. In the end I gave up and put some in the dirt they use for dust baths hoping that’ll get to the spot eventually!

    • Tim Daniels

      I have just dusted down my chickens for red mite / lice with powder – it can be tricky to keep them still and I would suggest someone holds them while you do it. I sit on a step and place the hen on my lap, with her legs / feet firmly between my legs. You do have to grip them quite hard or they will pull away. Next, place one hand on top of her wings and let her calm down. You should then be able to sprinkle powder on the neck and back and then, rub it in. Lift the feathers if you can when sprinkling the powder. Next, lift a wing, then the other and dust under the wings and down the side. Finally, turn the hen onto her side holding her legs with one hand. Keep her wings tucked into your lap and then dust the breast, bottom area.

      If you have a helper, they can cover her head / eyes with their hands to calm the bird and stop powder going near the eyes when you dust the neck. Good Luck!

  • ruth h

    i have been battleing with red mite for five days, this website has been a great help along the way. I tried several things on my own before i found this web page. I first decided to try baby oil! i squirted baby oil in all the cracks of the houses and waited a few mins, all of a sudden thousands of mites appeared and i poured boiling water on them killing them instantly. next approach was a pet shop bought mite powder wich worked but not really affective, i put a small bowl of water inside the house at night and in the morning there were thousands of mites dead in the bowl. third approach was a water jet spray with bleach i blasted all the houses waited fot them to dry and then covered them with diatom, i also covered the birds and put some in their food, i looked the next day and could only see around 10 mites altogether. i then bought mini fortefog fummer (miniture fumigators the size of a coke can) from ebay. u lite them n throw them into the houses and they kill everything even in the cracks. my war with the red mites is over for now and i won. all i need to do now is keep appyling poultry shield and diatom to prevent further infestation. i lost 2 beatiful pollands to these mites and i sure as hell wasnt gonna loose anymore. It is awful wen they crawling over u, they cant bite us but they can bite our chickens and it is a horrible excistance for them to have these creatures invading their lives. ther best thing to do for your birds is never give up keep fighting, although its unpleasant, they cant hurt us but they can kill our poor birds 🙁 keep up the fight.

  • Graeme

    Reply to Ellie, the easiest way to powder your chickens is to hold both their legs firmly in one hand then turn them over to hang upside,at this point they will flap so hold them at arms length so as not to damage thier wings,the flapping will stop after a few seconds and your bird lay there quietly with her wings out and her feathers loose from her body, this allows easy application of the mite powder to the underside of her wings, neck, legs and vent, this ordeal for her will be over in a couple of minutes and you know she has been properly treated with the mite powder goodluck

  • Paul

    yes we have had a a serious red mite infestation due to the warm summer, so out with the blowlamp and burn the buggers , strip down the hut , remove the roof felt as they like to hide under that and go along every joint , crack ,join ,and edge , go along the frame and if possiable do the underneath as well, being carefull not to set the hut alight, go for a quick cup of tea , come back and repeat as there will be zillons of the bloody things crawling about as they come out when they sense warmth, the best time to get the mites is at dusk , just when its getting dark and check every evening for at least a fortnight as the mite eggs will have hatched out with small white mites running eveywhere , just flick the blowlamp over them to kill them, but remember to be carefull and remove the birds if possiable, preciveice is the answer and after a short time you will get rid off them.

  • catherine

    Help!! i clean the coop out weekly and have discovered the dreaded red mite!!! unfortunately my dog was havin a good sniff in the nest boxes at the same time and now has the horrble critters on her! will they feed off her or will they just die?…..ive heard frontline doesnt really work on dogs for redmite! what about my house?! iwas njoying a cuppa on the sofa on;y to have one of the critters ceawl on me! will they just die off or is there something i can put in my house to help get rid!!!! tomoz is death day for the critters! out willl come the blow torch! satisfying and deadly ha ha

    • Tim Daniels

      Red Mite won’t bite you or your dog – but they will annoy you because they crawl on you and make you itch…

      The best way to get rid of them is to wash your clothes and shower after being in the chicken house.

      The blow torch works well but be carefull – don’t leave it on the wood for too ong or it will burn it. I would also consider other treatments too – they are notoriously hard to get rid of. Their lifecycle is 7 days or so – so try to repeat treatments before then to break the cycle and reduce numbers. Red Mite only reproduce after they have had a feed so removing the hens to another house for a few weeks is another good strategy.

      Good Luck.

  • linda heasman

    Red mite, I am having nightmares about them.
    Has any one tried ‘total mite killer’ made by Nettex in a concentrate. I have sprayed with it once after poultry shield didn’t appear to work. I have spread builders lime on the ground around my henhouse as I was finding the evil mites were on me as I walked to the hen house!
    I read somewhere this kills bugs on the soil surface. Anyone heard of this working?

    • Tim Daniels

      I haven’t tried Total Mite Killer. As with most of the products, Poultry Shield included, you need to get the mites covered and there will always be some hiding away. You need to wash the house out several times – With Poultry Shield, I soak everything, then keep a stronger solution in a garden sprayer and every night spray the cracks / perch ends again. It can take a good few weeks to be ‘Mite Free’ and if you have a hiding place for them (Felt Roof?) it can be impossible and you can only just manage the numbers until the colder weather comes.

      Diatom is the same – you have to keep it dusted around and rubbed into the perches (like a gymnasts bar!) so the mites will have to crawl through it to get a feed. A few days later they will dry up and die but you must keep up the treatment, every night or two.

      Remember every mite you kill in the space of 7 days will not be reproducing… if you treat every 2 weeks, the Red Mite that survive the first treatment will have multiplied again several times by the second treatment…

      Lime can be used to clean ground and will probably stop the mites but it will also burn the chickens feet so do take care.

  • kate.chicks

    hi every one.. like so many of you, we are suffering the red mite. the house is scapped clean every day and washed and powderd every couple of weeks, but still they come. the fear had by many is also one of mine about what effect these mites have on us and our three yrs. old is really cross because i have stopped her collecting eggs, i dont want her itching like i have. any way is it possible to treat young chicks, they are nearly three weeks old, in a brooder we built by the poultry magazine design.

    • Tim Daniels

      If they get on your arms when collecting eggs during the day then there’s quite a few of them in the hen house. I would strip it down as much as you can, wash out with a product like Poultry shield, power wash / hose and dust the nestboxes / perches with diatom – this is an organic product, so will not hurt you or your daughter when collecting eggs.

      Now the important bit… repeat, repeat, repeat no longer than 7 days apart – this is the life cycle of a mite – so as mentioned in my last comment, if you only treat every couple of weeks, they will have multiplied several times and you will be back where you started.

      One thing I have just recently tried at a school was dilute bleach – They certainly don’t seem to like that – Anyone else tried it? It seems like a cheap treatment if it works although not so organic but relatively safe if dilluted. I finished off by pressure washing and then dusting with diatom. I will post an update to my blog when I see the results.

  • june

    dear tim thankyou for the info reply to my last email , can you tell me if these mites will live in the soil in the chicken run and if they would be in a fir tree over hanging the run in which pigeons have nested this year, don’t suppose you know how long they live do you?

    • Tim Daniels

      I have never found them living on the ground or in the soil. I have washed thousands out of the chicken houses and have not seen more than one or two climbing back up the legs of the house, even at night.

      They cannot multiply without a blood feed. They usually live close to the birds (perch ends / nestboxes being a favourite) since they have to crawl to their host at night to feed. I think they would probably live in the pigeon nest / tree to feed from the pigeons but would go no further than this.

      Red Mite can survive off a bird for 8 months or so – I have tried testing this theory by leaving some in a hen house last year to find them looking rather grey in the spring but still alive.

      Watch out for my new blog post later on my top 5 red mite products! Good luck.

  • Angela Rowe

    Thank you tim for this site. I have just started the major clean up of red mite by power washing the chicken coup. Tomorrow I will bliss it again, try the baby oil someone else suggested and sprinkle with the diatom.

    We have a home made chicken coup made our of pallets and old doors so I am slightly concerned about the number of cracks and crevices where the mites are hiding, but I did spend along time with the pressure hose so hopefully I will get there. Do I also need to wash down the outside of the coup and the arc attached to the coup. I don’t really know how far they spread. Will I also need to put something down in the places where they take mud bath (there are quite a few)?

    How often do you need to change the bedding, is it every couple of days or every week as normal? I presume you need to sprinkle the diatom on the bedding every time you change it. This is going to be very expensive, is there a cheaper way of dealing with the infestation. I have ordered a couple of kilos of diatom and would rather use this just to sprinkle on and around the perch and not put in bedding every time i change it.

    Thank you for all the useful info.

    • Tim Daniels

      Red Mite will live in the house but not in the run – this is because they (like vampires…!) hide away during the day time in the dark and come out at night. You may find them crawling around on the outside of the coop if they have been disturbed but they are not normally found on chickens during the day. I have from time to time found the odd 1 or 2 on a bird but it is a rare occurance. Dust baths will help your birds rid themselves of Red Mite and you can sprinkle diatom in there as well.

      Yes, you need to use diatom after you have cleaned out – but I tend to concenterate on perches and perch ends more. The ultimate aim is to get the mites to crawl through the diatom and then a few days later they are history. They will avoid it though so make sure you rub it into all sides of the perch. I tend to concentrate on where I’ve found clumps of mites (usually perch ends in my houses) and where the mites have to go to get to the birds at night (perches for me). I have one house that always seems to get the nest boxes infected yet there seems to be no problem in the others.

      I still clean weekly but if they are living in or near to the bedding then change the bedding sooner.

      As for the cost – If you do it well, it can get rid of them in a few weeks. Keep checking and re-wash the house if necessary, if left longer than 7 days, they can multiply very quickly again. After a few weeks, you can reduce the amount of diatom you use and just dust the perches. I find the perch ends / cracks stay dusted for a good while anyway. Keep monitoring the house weekly then until the weather goes cold and then you won’t be troubled again until next May…

  • Angela Rowe

    Thanks for the reply. I will got out again today to rewash the house and put diatom down.

  • Angela Rowe

    Having spent all yesterday hosing down the house and after five attempts thought I had broken the back of it, until today where I find the same number crawling around the hut inside and out.

    i have tried using the blow torch again and everywhere they are crawling out of every crack and crevice which there are many. the house was made from old pallets and nailed together. Inside there are even bits of chipboard and they seem to like hiding in the edges, as well as bits of wood which have split in places. I am just wondering with so many hideaways for the little mites. Is there much point trying to get rid of them or should i accept defeat?

    If I am going to persist then I will see if the heat gun might be more effective. I am also curious to know if the mini fortefog fumer would get rid of them. Diatom is down but i suspect i can’t get it into all the cracks.

    • Tim Daniels

      They do seem to keep coming out of nowhere. This was why I liked the pressure washer method so much – you can spray the cracks and seriously disturb them and wash them away. Wait 20 minutes and you’ll find there are more coming out again… so re-spray… and so on. I did this for a few hours, kept going back and washing them away until there were few coming out. Then I let the house dry and rebuilt it / put diatom on perches etc.

      If it is really bad and you can’t get into some of the house, you may be better off burning the house and starting again. Alternatively, take the house apart as much as you can and then spray them.

      It is never easy and people battle with these things for weeks on end. I have know people burn a house to find them in their new house within a month so you have to keep watching and treating as necessary.

  • Vanessa

    Alternatively, you could all try a Doodlehouse. It comes apart completely and you can hose it down and put it together again. It’s a really clever design and just slots together with no crevices at all. I have one and have not had a problem with red mite. Apparently the Doodlehouse website is being re-launched and will be running again soon. I bought mine off ebay but I don’t think they sell there anymore.

  • Lizzie Pick

    We are baby sitting some chickens and last night one just died. No predator got into the coop (or not that we can see) and the other 3 chickens seem to be o.k. After reading your page, we have been out with a torch to look for red mite but couldn’t see any of the common signs. Do you have any ideas? All the chickens were laying daily and looked healthy.
    Thank you for any help you could give us.

    • Tim Daniels

      Hi, I’m sorry to hear you have lost a chicken, especially not your own.

      To be honest, it is very hard to suggest what it could be without a PM (Post Mortem) – Chickens can catch many different diseases, some of which show symptoms, some of which don’t. Egg Peritonitis for example where an egg ends up trapped inside the bird often doesn’t show any signs and there is very little known about tumours which can grow and kill chickens very quickly. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help but it sounds like you are doing all you can to check the common problems.

      Worms can cause lots of damage and death without many visible signs but the owners should worm their chickens regularly to prevent these sorts of problems and would not expect you to do this.

  • Yvette

    Thanks so much for your article on how to get rid of a serious red mite infestation. I didn’t realise I had red mites until the egg production dropped right off, but there seemed nothing wrong with my hens. I cleaned out the house to find red mites everywhere – I confess I hadn’t been as diligent in my cleaning as I should have been!
    After researching on the internet I came across this article and followed it as best I could. It has taken over 5 weeks but yesterday, there were just one or two mites here & there, so a huge improvement.
    I just used my garden hose on a ‘jet’ setting, as we have 5.5bar mains water pressure – seems to have worked OK. Sprayed with Poultry Shield, put Diatom powder along the perches, in the nest boxes and in the tray under the perches (as a few of my birds seem to prefer to sleep there rather than on the perches!). I dusted the hens I could catch with Red Mite Powder but there are 3 that I just end up chasing around the run and probably causing them stress, so have given up with those!
    Egg production is still not what it should be but I can find nothing obvious wrong with the hens. I have 9 hens but am only getting 2-6 eggs a day. Is it just a question of time? I thought I may have stressed the birds by catching them & powdering them?
    Anyway, I am most grateful for your article. Thank you.

    • Tim Daniels

      Thank you for the kind comments – I am so pleased this has helped you.
      I know you’ve been treating the house for 5 weeks but do keep up the diatom – those 2 mites can turn into thousands in just a few weeks so it’s important not to let them get hold again. I’m sure you’re an expert at treating the house by now though!

      For the lack of eggs – the next thing I would consider is Worms. Have they been wormed recently…with Flubenvet??

      Worms reduce the amount of eggs chickens produce amongst other things. Incorrect diet (for example, a diet with insufficient protein or over feeding), lack of calcium or grit.

      On the subject of feeding – fat hens don’t lay eggs… and too much mixed corn will make your hens overweight (the maize is very fattening) and lack sufficient protein (Wheat is around 10%). Stick to no more than a handful per hen per day in the late afternoon and do not feed too many kitchen scraps (no more than 20% of their ration).

      All of that said, chickens egg production is at a peak in the spring and egg numbers can dwindle in late summer, before they stop laying and go into moult.

      Without knowing the breed and age of your hens, it’s hard to say if that’s ‘normal’.

  • Yvette

    Thank you for your reply Tim, and for the advice regarding the Diatom – I will definitely keep it up.

    I did give a course of Flubenvet about 6 weeks ago when the egg production went down and the food consumption went up, before I realised I had red mites. I then assumed that the problem was more to do with the red mites, but finished the Flubenvet course anyway. I don’t think I can give them another course yet can I?
    They are still eating quite a lot of layers pellets compared to what they were eating back in the Spring: 10-12 large handfuls between 9 hens. Normally I give 1 large handful for each hen, but this seems to run out early afternoon so I have increased it a little. Maybe it’s because I have a couple of new hens who are only around 26 weeks old who are extra hungry! I did wonder about worms because they seem to be eating a lot. I do give them some kitchen scraps but not every day and not too much. I try to vary what I give them too – a little bread ‘coz they love it, leftover veg and some weeds from the garden. They get a small handful of corn late in the afternoon too.
    I have 3 RIR, 2 Buff Sussex and 2 Light Sussex who are all around 16 months old and 2 Speckled who are 26 weeks.
    3 of them have lost feathers on their backs (from an enthusiastic and rather clumsy cockerel who has now gone!!) which are now regrowing so this could account for their increased appetite possibly and maybe for the lack of eggs?
    Although I have had the hens for over a year now, I consider myself very much a novice. I have learnt all I know from the internet really and am very grateful for these sort of websites. Thank you so much.
    If you are able to throw any more light on my egg production I’d be very grateful, but appreciate you must have many messages to reply to.

    • Tim Daniels

      Hi Yvette,

      I have been giving this some thought over the last couple of days and:

      – I would feed pellets ad-lib to make sure they are getting enough. They should eat 120g or so per day per hen, more for males.
      – Greens are fine, as much as you like but watch too many scraps – ideally mix with layers mash – watch the bread, it is low in protein and feathers and eggs are 80% protein! Makes sure they have oystershell grit for calcium.
      – I think you should be ok for worming, however if they are on old ground or the same piece of ground that isn’t clean / muddy I would worm every 3 months at least

      Keep on top of the red mite and they should then be in top shape 🙂

      Unless your girls are from a utility strain (one that is bred / selected for egg numbers and very rare these days because you have to trap nest and record results of hens..) then their egg numbers are probably just about normal for the time of year, perhaps a little on the low site for these breeds.

  • Laura Loo

    Hi Tim and Blog, We have a serious mite infestion for the last 6 weeks in our own house brought in probably by the dogs and ourselves, as we were all very scratchy all over and definately getting bitten by them and no amount of scrubbing would remove them. The hens are much better and we have treated their house and our house with tonnes of Diacom and meds from the vet for the hens – I have to say, we resorted to even putting Diacom on ourselves at night on areas where we were really affected as well as bathed nightly in this american organic product called Kleen Free which is working so far, so less itching and crawling sensations at night so far. I think the Diacom is amazing, and definately the best product around. I also agree with Carol above regarding a different breed of red mite, as our case sounds identical as so many other bird mite sufferers in US and other places with a hotter climates. I would really like to know if there is anyone on this blog that has had their own home and body infested and how they dealt with it. We are getting a steamer for the houses and are praying for a very cold winter to kill them off and going to keep our heating off, but so far vets and doctors have very little knowledge about these new breed of red mites that definately reproduce on and bite humans. It is frightening if this strain of red mite really takes affect in the UK and Ireland, as it is very nasty, tough and reproduces at a bionic rate. Thanking you in advance! Laura from Ireland

    • Tim Daniels

      Laura Loo, I have heard of a few people that have had their house infested with Red Mites now and I didn’t believe they would live for long, or multiply away from their hosts but after doing a little research, it appears they will feed from other species, including us if they can’t get a blood feed from birds.

      “I would really like to know if there is anyone on this blog that has had their own home and body infested and how they dealt with it.”

      I have been giving this some thought and have spoken with some people at the University of Newcastle – I will post a new blog post soon specifically about getting Red Mite in your home so please check back in and leave some comments on that post with your experiences…

  • Yvette

    Thanks Tim, it’s so helpful being able to get some specific feedback….and maybe someone else is asking similar questions so it may help them too!
    The eggs have gone up in the last couple of days to 7 and seeing as 1 of my new POL hasn’t started laying yet (though I hope she will soon!) I think 7 out of 8 is OK, especially as some of them are growing new feathers too.
    Your advice on the feeding is helpful – I confess I haven’t actually weighed out the food so will do that today! I do give them oyster shell grit too.
    Unfortunately they are always on the same ground (space limits) and it is basically gravel (to stop it getting too muddy, and they ate the grass that was there in about 2 weeks!!), but with a lot of wet weather, this isn’t always easy! I will keep on top of the worming too as this is something I haven’t done properly.
    I will be introducing my 3 ‘chicks’ to the flock in a couple of weeks when they will be 16 weeks old, so this will give me another challenge no doubt!! 🙂
    Many thanks again.

  • Emma

    Hi Tim and others,
    I would be really interested to know if the red mite can survive in your home as i think i’ve become paranoid that they can, after finding 1 crawling across the page of my latest copy of poultry magazine…how appropriate, whilst i was reading it in bed the other night!!! I have just had a breakout in both my houses which i am still in process of tackling but one problem i am finding hard to deal with is that in one house none of the chickens will pearch, prefering to sleep on the floor, dont own a pressure washers as yet but am using diatom and just started using the poultry shield this week, amongst all the other sprays and powders known to man!!
    Also does Diatom also work on lice? I purchased half a dozen new chickens earlier on in the year only to find they were infested with them and am still powdering them with lice powder which seems to keep them down but not totally get rid of them, i did even resort to giving them a bath on one of the hot days we had a while back!
    Many Thanks

    • Tim Daniels

      Hi Emma,

      I didn’t believe they could but after some comments from people on this post and a little research, there are some cases emerging where they do infest your house.

      Take a look at this blog post I made with my findings: Are Red Mites infesting your home.

  • Pam

    I too am battling with red mite and lost one of my chickens a few weeks ago,to what appeared to be anaemia caused by the mite. However I have recently introduced two new birds into the coup and after just a few days I found them both dead this morning. One was a white Sussex so I could see the mite on her but could the mite posibly have taken hold and killed them so quickly? I only got her at the weekend. I have been using Diatom but will now follow your instructions and pressure wash the chicken house. I really would like to introduce 2 more birds but am reluctant to do so.

  • Helen

    Tim. Wow, thank goodness I found this website and blog! I was getting myself in a right state worrying about my chickens and the severe infestation of red mites. You have given me some great advice to go and try asap. I had been using Diatom for the last 18 months, initially to try and erradicate the lice that some of my ex-battery hens had got (although this doesn’t seem to have helped) and was in complete denial that we would ever get red mites. It was only when I was cleaning the hen house out about a month ago that I noticed that the wood appeared to be actually moving it was so covered in mites. I then scrubbed the coup with Jeyes liquid and ‘scattered’ Diatom powder around the perches and laying boxes only to find that the little buggers were back within a day or two. I now realise that I have been far too mean with the Diatom powder and am going to dust like crazy in the morning and then power wash at the weekend (am working until then!!).
    My poor chickens, (not all ex-batts) they look so pale and fragile. We have 10 chickens and have been barely getting 1 egg a day. I feel that I have really let them down and will be much more vigilant from now on. On a positive note, one of my girls roosts in a tree outside the hen house and she looks great!!

    Thanks for your time and effort in supporting and advising all us worried hen lovers. x

    • Tim Daniels

      Hello Helen,

      Don’t beat yourself up about it – it happens to us all. The good news is, once you have seen them and know the signs, you will spot them earlier next time and then they are easy to control.

      Diatom does work on Lice – but they will avoid it and it does (like most ‘organic’ treatments) take time to work. The birds need regular dusting. I must say though a couple of lice won’t hurt them – if they have access to a dust bath, they should be able to keep the lice numbers down themselves. You can add diatom to their dust bath too.

      The secret to getting the Red Mite under control though is getting the water to wash them all out of the cracks and making sure to get a meal they HAVE to crawl through the diatom. Keep those perches dusted – rub it in with your hand – give your hens a gymnasts bar! Then repeat as much as necessary but before 7 days is up (the life cycle of the mite when they can lay eggs again and multiply rapidly). Poultryshield in a small hand spray bottle is useful to zap cracks of mites mid week when you haven’t time to clean the coop out.

      If you have a felt roof, you may need to take the felt off to get to them depending on where they are and how bad the infestation is.

      The lack of eggs, pale combs, anemia and the bird in the tree is the classic sign…

      Good Luck!

  • bryony trafford

    This site has been so helpful. One of my four chickens was nearly dead three days ago, now she is fit and well again, just a bit pale. She was like a ghost chicken, and then I found the red mites, terrible. They were everywhere. I have used red mite powder, total red mite kill powder, every day, red mite kill liquid in all cracks, they come out and die. I am still finding red mites on me and the screen of the laptop! vile creatures. I still have a way to go, I think and the chickens are on seaweed supplement for their iron levels. Is this enough? I have also bought duramitex plus and will treat with that tomorrow. I am neurotic about the cats who want to investigate and are banned because of the permethrin. Horrible red mites. I will never fail to spot them again.

    • Tim Daniels

      They should make a full recovery if you can get rid of the mites. Boosting their recovery with a suppliment is an excellent idea but don’t forget free range works better than anything as it allows them to find extra things to eat- even if you can just let them out for an hour each day, it will help them.

  • bryony trafford

    Thank you, I have them out as soon as they have eaten their vitamin enriched food. The hen house looks clear at night, I will treat it again, though, a few times. But I have picked the mites up and brought them into the house. They can’t breed, can they, so will they be gone after 7 days? I keep showering, etc; but they must be on the chairs, is the house permethrin spray safe with the cats? The chickens are looking good, so that’s one thing!

  • jo

    I have red mite in my own house. They came in on my trousers/boots from the coop. The whole family is getting bit and i have a constant crawling sensation which is driving me barmy. I have since rehomed the hens and now have mites all over my garden/drive and there out during the day. Its definitely red mite, out in full sun crawling everywhere looking for a new host. Any one had any joy getting rid of these things and what should I use in the house?? I’m living in fear of them & I have an 8 week old baby and I’m really worried in case they don’t go away. They reckon permethrin doesn’t work anymore. Any ideas of what’s best to use from your own experiences?? I’m also in the UK with colder climates

  • Bigmama

    I have read this thread with interest as I think I have transferred them to the house too. I didnt think they were Red Mite as they looked black with a hard shell and a white type of dot on the top. After finding them I tried spraying the coop, only to cover myself with them and in they came!! Many showers later and some on me, my daughter, dog and laptop screen I have dismantled the coop as I have an old rabbit hutch where the chucks have gone. When I took it apart they were everywhere like grains of moving sand. Now they are crawling all over my bin, patio, mop bucket adn I arent coping well. I have brushed them down with scalding water and bleach with no effect. They make my skin crawl, I have left rhe coop pieces on the garden which is unused at the moment anyway due to it being completely overrun but want to know whether they still lay eggs with no host to feed on and how long they will br crawling round my patio for??

    • Tim Daniels

      Hi Bigmama,

      They vary in size and colour from light grey to dark red after a feed but they shouldn’t have a hard shell or white dot. The female only lays eggs after a blood feed but when hungry, some can change host to pets and even us.

      Have a look at our other post about Red Mite in the House – It is not my area of expertise I have to say – but I would say if they are crawling around inside you need to try to start reducing their numbers or they may start feeding from your pets / you and can then multiply at an alarming rate.

  • Claire

    I have mites on my birds. They are annoying me and everytime I clean their coop they are on me, I have a bath or shower and they are gone, so is there not a formular which i can bath my birds in??? its clear to me these little bliters do not like water: however after washing my jeans in a washing machine with all the suds they are still on there I would be grateful if you could advise as I literally have to strip off and put clothes in a black bag at the back door before going in the house (just in case)….I just hope none of the neighbours are watching!

    • Tim Daniels

      Hi Claire,

      Red Mites live in the house and will hop onto the birds for a meal during darkness. During the day there are usually very few birds with actual Mites on them. Lice will live on the birds continuously.

      You can dust the birds with various products – I use Red Mite Powder, I also feed my birds Garlic crushed in their water (a couple of cloves) which puts the mites off biting I believe but really the problem is getting the house mite free. You need to investigate the cracks in your hen house and get cleaning – it will take several serious cleans to remove them and even then you should keep preventative measures in place (like the diatom rubbed into perchs and dusted around cracks etc) to keep the last few under control.

      I usually shower and put my clothes on a hot wash to kill the mites.
      I hope this helps.

  • Beefy


    I have recently discovered that my hen house has got quite a bad infestation of red mites. I was away for 2 nights and got back to find 3 of my chickens dead with no obvious reasons why. I blamed a cat for stressing them out. I put another of my chickens back into the pen last night (she had been rearing 3 ducklings) woke up this morning to find her dead again with no signs of trauma. She was shut in the coup. Could the red mites have caused this if the infestation is really bad?

    • Tim Daniels

      Yes, I have seen this happen before. When there is a really bad infestation, they can make the birds anaemic and if it gets too bad, they will die.

  • Debbie Whelan

    Hi, you have me worried, so I’ve just done the second major clean of my shed and chickens in three days!! The reason I got to your website is that I have sixteen hens, and only two eggs a day on alternate days, now two are elderly, so count them out and four are this years hatchlings so aren’t started yet, but that still leaves, ten and one egg a day. Now they usually slow down at this time of year, but not this much. Anyway I have noticed an increase in the amount of feathers in the bedding and what looks like little flakes of the feather shaft on the floor of the house when I’m cleaning out. Any ideas what this might be?? If its mites, and I’ve religiously followed your instructions, when should I see an improvement in the amount of feather debris coming from the hens? You mention essential oils are good in your blog, but how do you use them? I don’t think a burner would be a good idea in there!!! unless I want fried chicken…I use tea tree oil on my kids hair to prevent unwanted creepy crawlies , will a neat dab every week do on the hens too? Mine are pretty flighty so its a major excercise to do all this. It took two hours to take them one by one from the house and apply the DE. A great sunday morning!! Also my son has just bought another batch of young hens, kept at a distance from mine, they are all sneezing, I’ve given them a few days of vitamin C, but this is day four and no improvement, no other symptoms as yet though, any suggestions?? They were also heavily infested with lice on examination when I got home….I won’t be going to any more bring and buy sales though…. I’m in Ireland by the way.

    • Hi Debbie,

      Firstly, it’s that time of year when chickens go into a moult. Feathers are made up of about 80% protein and eggs are mainly protein, so they will stop laying to preserve the protein for their new feathers. This is perfectly normal. They may not come back into lay afterwards (it depends on their breed / no of eggs they lay per year). Daylight hours effects their laying cycle and once they get below a certain number of hours per day, they stop laying until the daylight hours increase again in the spring.

      Secondly – the dreaded Red Mite. You should be able to check for them with a simple test. Wipe the underside of the perch at night when your chickens are roosting with a white tissue – if there are any smears of red blood, these are squashed red mites and you can carry on treating… if not, I would stop now. If it were summer I would say take preventative measures but soon, the Red Mite will be dormant as the weather turns cold – so you can relax until about May next year.

      The essential oils are being tested and many products are using them (eg red mite powder uses Tea Tree and so on). Personally, I feed my birds crushed fresh garlic in their water (2 or 3 cloves) which is also beneficial from a health point of view, I cannot recommend using essential oils in any way as I haven’t used them myself yet but I’m thinking of trying Lavender drops on the ends of my perches where the mites build up next summer.

      Finally, chickens can get colds at this time of year as the weather changes (much like humans) but it is possible they have something more serious.

      It’s hard to diagnose diseases without seeing the birds but they could get a Mycoplasma Galisepticum infection which leads to problems in the upper respiritory tract – this can cause sneezing, snivels, bubbles in the corners of the eye, smelly breath and so on. A vet will need to diagnose them and may prescribe antibiotics such as Tylan or Baytril (see our Poultry Medication section on the main site for more information on these). Our Poultry Diseases and Disorders section gives a number of ideas of things they might catch.

      Good Luck.

  • Paul McCarthy

    I love my chickens, but I have a full time job & 4 children. I spent six months constantly cleaning my wooden house, Diatom, Poultry Shield, Smoke Bombs etc. but the Red Mite kept coming back. I went on a two week holiday & came back with the place crawling with them. I was on the point of giving up & giving the birds away (I can’t risk getting mites in the house) when an old timer gave me some Creosote (the proper stuff available from Farmers Merchants in 25l containers). Took the house apart, painted the whole lot ( Thousands of mites dying as I did!) and six weeks later, not a sign. I’m told I should expect treatment to last about 12 months. Job Done.

  • Debbie Taylor

    Hi Everyone,

    I have learnt more in the past hour than I have in the last few days. Thank- you to all who have given their tips and told us all of there expeiences.

    I don’t have chickens but aviary birds (foriegn finch and canaries mostly). I have had a large aviary for about 7 years and have never had any signs of red-mite thank god in all that time. Very lucky!!!!!!

    I have a smaller one that has had parakeets in for about 2 years until this summer when my husband extended and built me a bidroom to breed finches and canaries plus 1 pair of budgies.

    While changing the the bottom trays on 1 row of 3 cages, I noticed what looked like fresh blood. It WAS blood. the mites where killed when i removed the tray. I WAS GUTTED. All these years and no problems.

    Panic and disbelief at first, then strait to action stations (as I knew them).
    They where in my budgies nest box. The chicks where all coming in and out this week anyway so that was removed and though I could not see any sign of them in the cage it has been sprayed well and the aldults and chicks too.

    Also found them in another set of 3 cages and have sprayed, washed , squashed, washed and sprayed again. I have found a few straglers wandering in the cage today so sprayed again.

    After reading your stories today, I have decided to try Diatoms first and will keep you all posted.

    Thaks again all.

  • Dear Tim – I am dealing with an infestation of mites in the old chicken coup, and find your green-friendly advice very useful and comforting.

    I am also in the midst of building a new chicken coop and suddenly focused (freaked out is more like it) on what i can do now to best prevent and deter red mites, and/or make future cleaning and treatment less labor intensive. Should I fill every crack, nick, hole and joint in the lumber with putty or caulk, paint, whitewash, rub with linseen oil? If any of this is helpful, now’s the time! Hoping you have some suggestions on setting things up right from the start.
    Thanks again for all you do!
    Christina from Sebastopol, California

    • Tim Daniels

      Hi Christina,

      Sorry, I just noticed your comment, I’m a little late in replying I know… I have never tried filling the cracks / holes because:

      1. However well you do this there will always be some tiny hole that they will find and then get behind the filler, making it even harder to eliminate them.
      2. Many of the filler type products will break away over time and you risk the hens eating it.

      The best I have found is to have houses that come apart and can be washed – those without a felt roof too!

      Better late than never I guess… 😉 Tim

  • Sue

    Do red mites live in very cold climates. Or do those red specks on my eggs mean something else? It was well below zero for almost two weeks. I have a small flock and at first a few eggs/day were speckled but now most are. My coop is pretty small and not heated although I just added a water heater for the winter.

    • Tim Daniels

      If the red specks are Red Mites, you should be able to squish them when you try to brush them off and they will leave a blood stain on the eggs. I would be surprised if they are mites due to the cold temperature but if there are enough of them, they could be keeping warm enough to be active in the hens nest boxes or there could be a small number on the hens themselves. It wouldn’t be the normal situation though but without actually seeing them, it’s hard to say. Have a look at these pictures (including a fantastic close up) of Red Mites which may help you to identify them.

  • Joy Manning

    I’ve read the posts, and am sure I have a red mite infestation. We have 13 hens and 2 roosters. They are nearing 1 yr. old We have a lot of gray dust in the coop. There are red spots on an egg or two, that when rubbed with a damp paper towel, come off as red (blood). The hens look well, except for one, that for months now, off and on, has had a ‘cough,’ almost sounding like a donkey. We treated her with an antibiotic in the water. It’s been well below freezing outside, but never inside the coop. I have a heat lamp on during cold spells. At first, I used Diatom religiously, but haven’t since cold weather set in. I’m dying to get in there with our pressure washer and some red mite killer, vaseline, etc. to eradicate them. I’ve read that ‘Poultry Shield’ works wonders but haven’t found it for sale in the U.S. I’ve also heard of using motor oil. I will start using garlic in their water. I let them free range when there is no threat of rain. I hadn’t been letting them go out of their chicken yard when there is snow on their ground, or out of the coop if it’s below freezing. Does that matter? I, too, feel I have failed my chickens.

    • Tim Daniels

      Sorry to say it but that sounds like Red Mite!

      The heat lamp will almost certainly be keeping them active. I can’t accept you have failed your chickens! Far from it, you sound as though you are really caring for them… It is not easy to give them as much care in freezing weather. Have a look at my post on chickens in the snow. Except for real fancy breeds without much feathering, chickens can handle the cold really well…. they do need draught free accomodation but remember they fluff up their feathers to trap air which is an excellent insulator. Mine have been fine down to -15 this year. Large combs on cockerels can suffer with frostbite but vassaline can take care of that. You can still let your birds out in the cold. If they don’t like it, they will huddle by the door or not go out for long. Just clear a space in the snow if you have any… Good luck.

  • keith blake

    Just wish to say thanks for all your advice.
    Had a bad problem with red mite but being quite new to keeping chickens I didnt quite understand what was going on. After reading your post i was in no two minds what the problems were. I think as my wife said I went a bit over the top but better to be safe not sorry I say, I started by stripping the hen house and everything that would come to bits, then pressure blasted the whole lot outside and inside. When it had dried I did it again then gave it two strong sprays of poultry sheild. With all the roofing felt stripped off it was all looking in a poor state but I was on a mission lol!.
    Next was the problem of tracking down propper creosote lucky being a builder, I managed to get my hands on some. Unfortunatly it comes in 25ltr containers. Took me a whole day to coat it all but I made sure it got everywhere. Once it had dried, I put it all back together again and then used diatom everywhere. I dont know if this is going to work but ive given it my best shot so again many thanks for all the advice and fingers crossed I have the red mite problem under control.

    • Tim Daniels

      Sounds like you’ve made a good job. Keep checking for mites because just a few that escape can multiply very quickly. Diatom is good rubbed into the perches and around perch ends. Keep it up just in case!

  • Rhodri Morris

    thank you very much for your advice, i have recently found these mites in the coop (wooden). my 4 chickens are all laying, does it have to be a pressure washer? or can it be a hose pipe?

    • Tim Daniels

      A wash down with the hose will help – but try to spray it under pressure into the cracks to wash as many of them out as you can. Then remember to keep up the diatom on the perches every couple of days. Good Luck…!

  • Rhodri Morris

    Hello again,
    one of my chickens sleep in the laying box as it is all one big box with a ‘room’ for laying, should i use the diatom in there? how serious can these red mites be?
    Thanks again

  • I dust nestboxes and house routinely during cleaning but observation is the main thing – watch for signs of red mite and if you find any, treat immediately..

  • ChickenHutchPlans

    You are so right about having to clean “everything”. I had an infestation several years ago on a medium size chicken coop and had to power wash it 4 times just to get to the point that I felt I had uncovered all of the mites. The coop has a metal roof so I didn’t worry to much about it. What a job. I used a different type of powder and seemed to work ok, couldn’t find the Diatom. Thanks for sharing.

  • Rhodri Morris

    just found out how hard it is to get rid of these mights, cleaned the whole coop out, replaced the roof, a week late i find a little nest of them, time to get the pressure washer out!

    • Craig Ottewell

      I’ve cleaned my coop out completely and used a blow torch to lightly scorch between each crack and its worked a treat. You can even see the little clusters of mites frazzle as you go!!!
      Just make sure you move quite quickly so to not scorch the enclosure too much!

  • clare

    I’ve just discovered that we have a red mite infestation in our chicken house so i’m set to do a really big clean, but if you use a pressure hose to remove the mites, do they not just crawl back when they’ve dried out a bit and move straight back into the house again?

    • Tim Daniels

      Yes, I’m sure some will but it would be a long and difficult journey for them and I haven’t seen any crawling back up the legs of the house. The main reason for the pressure washer is to get them out of the cracks which is the most difficult thing. Once washed, many more will come crawling out as well that you didn’t get with the washer the first time. Poultryshield is useful to use first on the house – this is a detergent based product that washes the waxy coating of the mites off and causes them to dry out and die.

      If the numbers are reduced to a sensible level in the house then you stand a fair chance of killing them with diatom but you must keep repeating treatment before 6 days so they don’t have a chance to reproduce….. by the bucketload!

  • Snails L

    I`ve just lost one of my hens, have 2 left – both are losing their feathers & do not want to go in the Henhouse at Night, all 3 had stopped laying around 2 weeks ago, but poor Linda got weak and died one Night in the Henhouse.

    I have been putting them in at Night, In the last hour though I have read all the comments above, & text, and know I have Red Mite problems (And a felt Roof)!
    I have an allotment so plenty of garlic, which I will crush & put in the water, I will take off the felt Roof & jet out the House & buy some Diatom & Red mite powder.

    I was looking to get another couple of Hens to replace Linda, but should I wait until I have cleared out The Red Mite?

    • Tim Daniels

      Very sorry to hear this, although I have heard similar stories many times.
      If it is really bad, I would move the hens for a couple of weeks to alternative accommodation…. so that they get a break from the mites and can recover a little then, I would consider using a combination of treatments – Jeyes Fluid isn’t so friendly but kills them dead with contact.
      It will take several treatments to reduce the red mite numbers right down – the important thing is to remember their lifecycle in this warm weather is 5 or 6 days – so you must repeat treatment before they can lay thousands more eggs again…
      It is not impossible to rid the hen house of these but to be honest, a few from time to time doesn’t bother the hens that much as long as you keep on top of their numbers. The diatom long term seems to keep their numbers down for me although from time to time I still get an outbreak.
      Good Luck!

  • Emily

    Just came back from a weeks holiday, and found we had red mites. We’ve only had chickens for a year and this is the first time i’ve ever seen them so i wasn’t really prepared, is there anything i can use quickly and at hand as the weathers bad so i can’t use a pressure washer?
    Also as they are only in one corner of the house, should i be worried that they have fully infestated the whole hut, the chickens still look very healthy though one is laying fragile eggs. what supplements can i give them?
    any help would be appreciated as i’m still a bit of a novice!


    • Tim Daniels

      I would order some poultry shield and diatom – then spray the infestation with a garden / greenhouse hand sprayer and rub diatom on the perches for now. When the weather is better, you can strip the house down and check out the full extent of the problem.

      Their normal feed and greens etc should contain sufficient nutrition but there are numerous poultry vitamin supplements available.

  • donna

    hi i have hear ivermectin is good for chickens, as its an easy drop on the back of the neck and treats red mites fleas and worms in one go, can anyone advise on this and if you can eat the eggs during application. many thanks

    • Tim Daniels

      Vets sometimes prescribe Ivermectin to treat chickens with lice and it is also effective for most species of worms. I don’t know how good it is for red mite but I have heard of people using it from time to time. Many poultry keepers use Ivermectin drops on their birds since it can be bought online (eg for pigeons). It is licensed under the small animal exemption scheme which does not allow it on the use of animals that produce food such as chickens.

      I would be breaking the VMD guidelines by encouraging you to use it – only a vet can prescribe its use under the Veterinary Medicines Cascade.

      There is more information on Ivermectin in our Medication section.

      Hope this helps…!

  • H Jones

    I’m glad I have found this site as I too am going mad with these mites. I first thought they were from outside and found them all over my bed as my covers had been drying on the line (by the chickens). When I cleaned out the coop I found millions of them in there crawling in the cracks.
    Have been cleaning and cleaning and dusting with powder for a week now but still finding these things in my house and crawling outside. The hens seem fine and still lay every day. I have used frontline on them and powder.
    My worry is that I have 4 dogs, a cat and rabbits who all share the garden and surrounding out buildings. I think I may be best re homing my chickens and burning the coop, as I am worried they will keep spreading and affect my other animals. If I find a new home for my girls will they take the mites with them even though they have been covered with powder/spray? They are tiny dots and a pale colour, but some do have a dark back and white spot as mentioned before on here.
    They are so horrible and I have to crush them between my nails to kill them.

    • Tim Daniels

      Yes, red mite can feed on other species including dogs and people, however they need the dark cracks and crevices to live in and will only thrive with a regular feed. Just about every poultry keeper gets red mite and very few end up with a problem elsewhere.

      I always strip off after a big clean up and shower and have never had them in my house. The dogs would be best kept out of the chicken house and if you get them under control to a manageable level, you should find that you can manage the problem without too much difficulty.

      The key thing to remember is to re-treat before 7 days because once you have ‘got rid’ of red mite, there are usually some eggs hidden somewhere that will hatch and turn into adult laying mites within a week during warm weather.

      Yes, unfortunately the hens can carry the odd mite – in dark places under the wings is a common place and infect a new home however if you wash the new house down with poultry shield and dust with diatom, the few mites they carry will be unlikely to be able to take up residence.

      • Theresa

        I understand how to get them out of the coop and of the hens but I think they’re in my house please help

        • Tim Daniels

          I haven’t had this problem before so it hasn’t been a problem for me but I would suggest you treat them as fleas – there are sprays you can use to fumigate your house.

          If all else fails, I think you can pay the council £100 to come in and treat a house for fleas, I would try that.

          Remember to wash clothes as well.

  • chris

    I have had an infested coop, I have four hens and noticed one looked a bit ill and she is only young, and she had stoped laying. I put 2 and 2 togeather and went and had a good look at the coop…it was crawling in the red mite. I washed it with soap and water because I didnt know what else to do, also put the chickens in a shed for the next night. The next day i went back out and there was just as many red mites in there.
    I then used a wall paper steam striper in the coop and watched them all dying. i had to take the roof felt off, this is where the “nest” is i found thousands under there. also behind the hinges on doors. This has worked really well, still finding the odd mite but got powders and sprays down so they are dying now. Will be giving the coop another steam in a week or so and the out side of the coop needs to be steamed. All four of the hens was refusing to go into the coop at night. I was having to place each one in. Hope this helps

  • H Jones

    Thanks, they are such horrible things!

    The chickens had been refusing to go in the coop and now lay outside only. They are very unhappy! I tried blasting with a jet spray, drying out and pouring disenfectent down all the cracks, drying out again and then using the powder EVERYWHERE I could. We even removed roof felt and did all under there.

    I then felt ready and lifted the chickens in last night, as I don’t like them roosting out. Wish I hadn’t, today there were MILLIONS of big fat red ones everywhere. Obviously had a good feed last night and I now feel terrible. I just want to burn the thing and start again. Our coop was quite a cheap one and seems to have cracks and crevices in so many places I feel that they’ll never ever leave. Their run is also round a few trees and I’m worried they’ll be in the tree bark.

    I did spray the chickens with frontline but that hasn’t worked. The steam cleaning idea could be my next one.
    Someone said bath them with vinegar. Anyone heard this? Could it cause them too much stress?

    I just feel that I’m letting the poor hens down all the time.

  • karen

    Helen :
    Tim. Wow, thank goodness I found this website and blog! I was getting myself in a right state worrying about my chickens and the severe infestation of red mites. You have given me some great advice to go and try asap. I had been using Diatom for the last 18 months, initially to try and erradicate the lice that some of my ex-battery hens had got (although this doesn’t seem to have helped) and was in complete denial that we would ever get red mites. It was only when I was cleaning the hen house out about a month ago that I noticed that the wood appeared to be actually moving it was so covered in mites. I then scrubbed the coup with Jeyes liquid and ‘scattered’ Diatom powder around the perches and laying boxes only to find that the little buggers were back within a day or two. I now realise that I have been far too mean with the Diatom powder and am going to dust like crazy in the morning and then power wash at the weekend (am working until then!!).
    My poor chickens, (not all ex-batts) they look so pale and fragile. We have 10 chickens and have been barely getting 1 egg a day. I feel that I have really let them down and will be much more vigilant from now on. On a positive note, one of my girls roosts in a tree outside the hen house and she looks great!!
    Thanks for your time and effort in supporting and advising all us worried hen lovers. x

    I have had hens for 4 years and never had any trouble with red mite. However this year i bought 5 scruffy hens and within a week the 2 hen coups were infested with these awful creepy crawlies. I have used jeyes fluid, pressure washed and creosoted both coups inside and out, treated the birds and nest boxes with red mite powder, bought smoke bombs, sprayed with total mite kill…….and surprise surprise they are back!!!! I have lost one hen and another one looks very pale and weak. I feel i am failing these poor birds and all i seem to be doing is itching and finding the disgusting things everywhere, they are driving me mad……….HELP

  • H Jones

    If I bought a second coop and left the old one vacant and away everything, how long would it be before they die out? I’m thinking of having 2 coops to swap between when I’m doing a big clean or dealing with these problems…..

    Would that work or would they lay dormant and come back to get them again?

  • karen

    H Jones :
    If I bought a second coop and left the old one vacant and away everything, how long would it be before they die out? I’m thinking of having 2 coops to swap between when I’m doing a big clean or dealing with these problems…..
    Would that work or would they lay dormant and come back to get them again?

    I think i read that they can lay dormant without feeding for 8 months!!!

    • Tim Daniels

      Yes, I have proved this. Last summer I put around 10 red mites into a jam jar and checked them every month. There were still a few crawling around after 7 months. By 8 months, they were all dead but they are incredibly resilient. They had no water, or food in the jar.

  • karen

    Hi Tim do u think an eco plastic coop with a datachable roof would be better than a wooden coop? I have 20 hens and 2 coops, i am now trying frontline as a last resort (which my vet recommended). I must say the farmers creosote did reduce them dramaticly, but are still evident.

  • Helen


    Is it safe to use the red mite powder on a duckling? He is 4 weeks old and is in between full feather and downy stage. I’m struggling to find any information that says don’t or you can use it so any advice is greatly welcomed.

  • H Jones

    I sprayed my hens with frontline, but nothing changed!
    Think I am going to buy a new coop, burn the old one and start again, hopefully if I keep treating the new one even without mites in it, they won’t be tempted.

    I really think there needs to be more out there to help against these horrid things and more warnings to people when they are looking at chickens! I had heard of them but never ever thought they were so common and so hard to get rid of.

  • val kingston-lee

    After reading all of this and trying all the treatments – I’m itching all over and will order a plastic hen house!

  • H Jones

    Thanks for all the help..
    I gave up in the end, burnt the coop and re-homed chickens to a free range local farm. The farm know they had mite but have creosolted their coops and have more expert knowledge and space than me to keep on top of them if they do take a few with them.
    I just couldn’t cope with them and they were too close to my back door for comfort.
    Godd luck everyone!

  • Karen


    We have or hopefully had an infestation of red mite. It was so bad and the coop was very old and hotch potched together so was due for renewal.. So we had us a bonfire and bought the girls a new coop. My 3 girls have been diactomed to within an inch of their lives and the new coop is pure white inside lol, so hopefully this will now eradicate the buggers. Thought we did loose one girl to them before we realised how bad they had gotten over the 2 weeks we were on holiday. The coop stands on slabs and they were treated with Diactom too. Apart from keeping a close eye on the girls and the new coop over the next couple weeks any other suggestions ( i have garlic in their water, and diatom in their favourite dusting area) Would a few drop of tee tree oil help if put on the back of their necks?? Should I get poultry shield and spray the new coop anyway? Is there such a thing as over kill with these things?? Oh and I am sick of finding them crawling over me 🙁 Sure they have snuck in the house on me.. but if they have they will be dealt with with diactom on the furniture lol..

    Thanks to everyone for their help and advice.


    • Tim Daniels

      I haven’t tried Tea Tree on the chickens themselves – but remember the mites live in the house most of the time so I would think it would be more effective on the ends of perches… Good Luck…

  • David

    Was wondering if a good frost or the well below freezing temps of winter will kill some of the mites?

    Of course I understand they will survive under and around the water as it is kept warm to prevent freezing.

    Have lost 3 hens to the mites even though have used tons of diatom and thoroughly cleaned the coupe and used a torch all over inside and out, and put garlic in their water, even dusted all with the diatom.

    Some reduction in the mites has been noticed, but still have a problem, do not want to use chemicals.

    Any other suggestions?

  • ErlindaDolphin

    This is a good site. Thank you for sharing your good information.

  • Zoe

    Hi, I have the same problem with Jones…I sprayed my dog’s house but nothing changed also..

  • Steven Hodge

    I have also a problem about this Red Mite Infestation, and I think the information and guide that I have read in this post are effective so I will try it at home. Thanks for sharing.

  • Eric Harrison

    Thanks for this article. This is very useful to everybody. Thanks for sharing this to us.

  • Gurs Nijjar

    Shall I buy some kind of protection for myself? In other words can these red mites suck blood from humans?

    • Tim Daniels

      They don’t normally. They will annoy by crawling on you and making you itch. Sometimes they have infested houses and I’m not sure if they are biting people or just giving a reaction from crawling on them. I think the mites need to be hungry. I always strip off and shower, washing my clothes if I get them on me.

  • Jennifer H

    can these mites live in the dirt? like fleas do

    • Tim Daniels

      No, they live in dark cracks in a chicken house or near to their evening meal… There is more information in our new Red Mite section.

  • Hawaii Wahine

    I have a very serious red mite infestation in the coop and now in the house. The coop is a small wooden coop on a stand. Only 3 chickens – who are free range during the day. The mites exploded in population during a time that I was caring for an ill family member and not paying as close attention. Now when I touch the coop or even approach it, the mites swarm on me. They are also now in the house and attacking family members. We have looked at them under a microscope and they appear to be red chicken mites.

    I even put petroleum jelly on my feet and legs tonight when I put food in the coop and still got mites on my legs. I was very careful not to touch anything except the wire door so I think the mites came from the ground up.

    How effective is the power washing? My husband is concerned that it will just spread them around. What is your experience in that regard? Is there something to spray the ground and nearby plants with after you power wash?

    One neighbor suggested using a blowtorch on the coop (with fire extinguishers handy). Has anyone tried that?

    How do I keep the mites off of me so I don’t spread them around when I take the birds out to spray them and when treating the coop? My shower is upstairs and even going into the house to shower may take them indoors. Petroleum jelly didn’t keep them off my ankles. Getting a bit desperate here!

    Look forward to your suggestions.

  • Samantha

    I have just got four ex batt hens and I think I found a red mite on one of the eggs this morning! Before they arrived we thouroughly coated the coop and the run in poultry friendly varnish and paint. We are also using hemp bedding as this is supposed ot be more difficult for the mites to live in. Is it possible the mites came on the chickens and will die with no wood to live inside of? I hope so. We have predator mites which we are about to release and I have also heard that putting garlic in the chickens water will stop them biting. Any help would be greatly appriciated. We are very new to this. We are four days in!

  • Brian Heard

    I tried power washing, then a 20% solution of Jeys followed by a red mite insecticide. That didn’t work so I used a blow lamp on the whole of the inside of the hut then sprayed it with insecticide. And still they came back. So, I burnt the house built a new one sprayed it with the red mite spray (‘effective for 3 months’ on the can) and let the chickens in. The next morning there they were back again – only a few but they will multiply!

  • Margaret Keeling

    I visited a friend for about an hour to help her move a plant. Her hens were in a coop in a in a different part of the garden but I got infested with mites- they must have been in the grass they had been feeding on.
    I am having a difficult time getting rid of them particularly from the pair of trousers i was wearing. Even washing in 60’C water did not work.

  • sean

    go to your wholesalers and buy a gallon of white vinegar buy a pump action pressure sprayer about £7.00 and spray the lot.soakthe place under perches in cracks seemsto work and is cheap about £3.00

  • ruth

    How long does the diatomacious earth last? Does it break down? I am thinking I need to get some to have on hand.

  • Lucy

    How do you get red mite in the first place? We have had chickens for the past 13 years and have never had any trouble, we have recently changed our feed supplier and that is the only thing we can think of that has bought the pesky red mite in!
    We have two goats that live in the same stable as the chickens, should I be worried that they may have the mite as well?
    Last question. The stables are wooden, weather-boarded at the top & outside and lined with chip board inside from the floor up too out chest height. The walls are literally crawling with them, will I ever get rid of them? Help!

    • Wild birds are the usual culprets – they can often be found near nests. Red mite can sometimes cross species (have a read of my post here on red mite in the house).

      If they are in hard to reach places, you are right, it will be almost impossible to treat.
      Something you could do is vacate the stable, treat it (a steamer would also be useful) then close the doors and leave it for a few days before re-treating. Look up Mitey Perch which stops the mites from getting to the chickens, and cover the place with diatom. There are also companies that spray diatom onto the walls / floors of poultry sheds commercially. If the mites can’t feed, eventually after 8 months they should die off – just be careful not to carry them to other places on clothing.

  • Liza Mallah

    Well……….Now it is my turn.

    A terrible infestation is threatening to abort my little hobby of hen keeping. Last year all was well, but on reflection, I was naive this year when I rehomed 3 ex battery hens. It then all started.
    I have now been spraying with different strengths of ‘Smite’ and now I’m going to try the white vinegar, next will be Jeyes Fluid. I am at my wits end here. My sons are fed up with the mites everywhere. I love the hens and don’t want to let them go.

    Anyone based near Hampton, Middlesex? Do call 07861 448 445

    • Sjfu

      Hi there I always clean the hen house out with strong diluted Jeyes every week and soak anything you can in the same solution for at least half an hour. Make up the same solution in a hand sprayer and spray anything you can’t soak or reach. If you do this continually i.e. every week the problem certainly is kept to a minimum and all other bird viruses and problems too.

  • Ml

    Where would I buy this as I live in the north east of England x

  • Tina

    Hi just found red mite in my new chicken coop, hopefully just found it in time as heard somebody I met has got it really bad in her flock. I kept horses and ponies and remembered a liquid call Deosan Deoset. fly repellent. Not licenced for red mite but was very good so just got some and sprayed my coop. You dilute it down, it’s a bit pricey but so were my lovely hens. I thought it was worth a try, loads of red mite washed out dead !!

  • K Robinson

    We have them too, they are driving me to the point I want to rehome my 3 ladies, its getting silly and enough is enough. I feel a complete failure to my ladies but I cant stand these things crawling about any longer

  • Tammie Loughlin

    Thanks for this help I came home from holiday to one huge infestation. It has been torrential rain but been steamed and steamed and cleaned. I am gonna go out today and see myself but thanks for all helpful comments here I have many approaches now. Hope others find relief too.

  • Alastair Hogben

    I have red mite infestation. I have tried smoke bombs, then cleaning out bedding and burning it. Spraying poultry shield and then diatom powder so hen run and house, perches, nest boxes look like a winter wonderland. I have also used an entire can of mite kill spray inside hen house – which is meant to have a three month lasting effect. Dusted my girls, legs, under wings, all over… I bombed the hen house on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Changed bedding. Went in today, moved the fresh nest bedding and there were two large clumps of red mite swarms…… Aaarrrrgggghhhh.

    I am going super chemical, have bought a hand sprayer and am going to drench every inch, underneath, inside and all over the entire hen run, hen house……..

    • Tim Daniels

      I would be interested to know what ‘Super Chemical’ are you going to use Alastair?

  • jade

    I’m switching to a giant dog igloo and PVC piping for a chicken run. Cedarcide kills mites. Bring it you filthy things. Burning the coop and rebuilding before I lose my sweet silkies.

  • Tim

    so as I see it. Buy three coops, burn one and don’t keep chickens?
    Seriously though how do you quarantine new birds?

  • Chrissie Teitge

    Having read some of these comments feel very gloomy! Just been out to burn my chicken bedding, with lavender oil round my wrists to prevent the little beggars from running on my arms and a shower cap on my hair. It’s been 7 days since I noticed the mites and I have been waging war on them every day, but the previous comments make me wonder whether it will ever end. I have kept chickens for 13 years and NEVER had this disgusting infestation. Yuk

  • Magda

    Have the same problem!!! And already giving up fighting!I want to re-home my 3 ladies now. Live in South Bedfordshire. Do yo know here I can find the new home? Many thanks

  • Ms. Parker

    Help! Has anyone found a way to get rid of the red mites/lice from the chickens on people. I have sores on the lower part of my scalp, shoulders and neck and periodic stinging sensations before a raised spot appears. Scratching with fingernail reveals a small pinhead size creature. Samples taken to our county’s ag extension service only showed a garden thrip. The red things I have found in my hair and on back of my head are bigger than thrips. I am desperate to get rid of them. Does anyone know what I need to do? This has been going on for several months, shortly after someone dropped off their chickens on our farm. Prior to that event, we never had this problem. I am not really sure these are red mites/lice from the poultry. PS: bits hurt, don’t itch and have even been infected. I need sleep and relief!

  • Bendo

    Put a tray under the perches to catch the bugs when they fall off the birds to go find a crevice & mate and lay eggs,
    cover the tray with kitchen towel or similar and soak it with a mix of 2parts apple cider vinegar, 2parts cheap coke(pop),1parts disinfectant or Jeyes fluid, 1 tablespoon of washing up liquid, stay up all night with a strong LED light and change the tray cover every 30 mins & re-soak.
    repeat until you are totally exhausted then use Ivermectin spot on

  • Alice

    Hi, just discovered a red mite infestation in our coop. Tried washing the house out, which got a lot out but still loads left! Also the lawn where we washed out was alive with mites days after. We have since burnt the coop and had to burn most of the lawn ( which appears to have killed them). Wish we had just burnt the coop first! I would suggest to burn the coop straight away. Washing did not get rid of them, just moved them about!!

    • Tim Daniels

      It really depends on how bad the infestation is and how easy it is to clean your coop of course but burning the coop is certainly one of the more extreme ways of getting rid of red mite (and your coop)!

  • Jen Edwards

    Reading this useful page at 5 in the morning! Yesterday found red mite under the lid of the nesting box. On closer inspection the whole coup is infested very badly. Started washing detachable bits of the coup with soapy water (using Ecover) as have no Poultry Shield as recommended. Will have to do main coup tomorrow. Reading everyone’s comments is really making me worry as I lie here itching and with a very itchy scalp. It appears I have brought them in to the house so now am concerned about that. Also by washing the coup surely live mites are going in to the ground only to crawl in to cracks elsewhere in the garden. If we get burn the coup and get rid if the chickens I’m assuming we will still need to treat the ground and our house for months to come?? And do they live in stone walls/on tress, bushes etc? Very concerned. Any help would be appreciated!

    • Tim Daniels

      Personally, I’ve never had a problem with them in my house – they itch when crawling on you and usually a hot shower fixes that. I wash my clothes in the washing machine and that’s the end of it. Saying this though, I have heard from others who have had problems (see my post “Will Red Mite infest your House”).

      Burning the coop is a last resort – usually if it is built in such a way that you can never get to certain places in it to wash it.

      What some people do is move the chickens out, put Ivermectin drops on them (this isn’t licensed for chickens so you may want to use a different product) in order to kill off any mites that are on the birds (usually just a few during the day that had a late meal and ended up stuck on the bird). Then treat the old coop every 5-6 days (as the eggs hatch, this breaks the life cycle) for a few weeks. Red Mite can only lay eggs after a blood feed so no new mites can be produced.

      At this point, it may be clear enough to move them back in if you have been able to get into the cracks sufficiently, OR if not, you could leave it to stand for 10 months (they can live for around 8 months) and treat it again mid way through this time.

      By the end of the 10 months you should have a clear coop. It’s a long time I know but it’s better than burning it.

      Remember NEVER go from the infested coop to the new coop without changing clothes and showering – and don’t use the same equipment for cleaning or you risk transferring them to the new coop.

      I have never seen them live on the ground – they get killed by the sunshine.

  • R Merr

    We seem to have an infestation…however, they are in a coop that cost $2,000 to build. It’s basically a shed.Surely there has to be a better way! We can’t afford to burn the coop!

    • R Passmore UK

      Hi , just had a bad case of red mite in our two sheds we use for coops.
      I just finished wallpapering the spare room and used a wall paper steamer to remove the paper “bright idea !!” I used it on the sheds and found it very rewarding knowing the mites couldnt hide from the steam in all the groves etc .then used poultry shied and have had a huge reduction in the pest ,just the odd few at the perch ends.
      Steam also sterilises and drys out straight away ,but be careful as you can’t see steam and the wood stays very hot for 20 seconds .
      It didn’t do any damage to the out side paint either .

      Good hunting !!

      • Tim Daniels

        Excellent work! Steamers are another handy tool in the never-ending battle against red mites.

      • Teresa Glynn

        Very hot white vinegar sprayed in the coop worked well for me.

  • lyn fendick

    ver useful page…similar thing..noticed my chickens looked poor….lost onr…tryed worming etc..penny dropped once i foubd mites crawling up my armed..was deverstated…so totally blitz the coop with bleack soluion…n chucked the dia earth inside n outside of coop and my hens fust bath area..ive rrpeated every three days.covered my hens in earth…….my coop was crawling in them….its worked winders n my chooks ate looking healthy agsin…so going to keep up ehat i have been doingevery three days…n try a smoke bomb and use ivectsdrops aswell…good luck….n keep battleing…

  • rowena

    Same idea as a steamer but if I see a patch of them I go and boil the kettle and pour boiling water on the area where they are – seems to keep them down… and also be vigilant and squish them with the back of your nail if you see anything moving… I find keeping the perch wood clean (scrub it outside with a brillo pad when its dirty), then its easy to see the red mite crawling about and you can squish them. Main thing is to keep at it as Tim says and not forget for a week as then they take hold again…. Also an old chap said to me to go out at night and dip the hens legs in oil of some sort (cooking/ olive/vaseline), then the mites cannot crawl up into the scales/ beyond and suck the blood – I did try this once and it seemed to be effective but easier with two people I imagine.

    • Teresa Glynn

      I have also made a paste of DE and water and painted that on to the inside walls, around the roof and into most of the cracks and making sure that wherever the blighters come from in the coop, they have to walk through it. Can’t see any now when I go out at night to look and hens not scratching.

  • catherine

    We found signs of mite this morning – there was a strong wind yesterday and I wonder if that caused an egg hatch break out (like fleas eggs who can live in wood flooring dormant for ages till vibration causes hatching?) Reading all the comments here is really worrying. Does anyone have a certain cure for them? Help!

    • Teresa Glynn

      I cleaned out the coop and thoroughly sprayed it with very hot vinegar – I found this worked better than steam alone or maye you could put the vinegar in a steamer. When it was dry I painted the inside of the coop with an emulsion of diatomaceous earth and water and got into all the crevices with the paintbrush. It stays on better than the DE alone. The coop is now clear but this is also the time of year when the mites go into hibernation I believe. Good luck.

      • Catherine

        Thank you Teresa – will try what you suggest.

  • Wendy Elwin

    We bought seven hens of various breeds for our grandchildren last Easter instead of Easter eggs! I noticed a couple of whitish patches on two of the Rhode Island Reds hens cheek skin the other day. Also we have two Beachwood Blues and the skin around the eyes on one of them was really pale and has made the hen look really spooky. We have not had a drop in egg production but I thought I would check the hen house for red mite and there seemed to be quite a few areas where they were. We took the hen house completely apart and sprayed on some ready to use red mite killer, left it for about 15 minutes and completely blitzed inside and out with a pressure washer……there were millions of the little blighters!
    While the house was drying I went out to buy some creosote only to find that you cant buy it anymore. I bought a creosote substitute which seems to be very oily and contains diesel. I have liberally painted inside and out, top and bottom with this stuff and they were still coming out of the crevices. I put red mite powder on all 7 of our hens. We have changed the hen house floor bedding to wood shavings (cut straw still in the nest boxes) and I just hope this helps the problem. We used to spray the perches twice a week with Jeyes fluid and have never previously had any mite infestations but this has lapsed over the last couple of months due to various reasons and we are paying for it now (or rather, the hens are).
    We will commence the Jeyes fluid again and have to hope that we have sorted the problem. I never thought of using a steamer but I may do next month as winter is on its way and I don’t want to make the hen house too wet in the cold weather.
    I hope to be able to keep red mite at bay and have found this page has given excellent advice and I wish all red mite sufferers good luck in eradicating them.

  • Wendy Knight

    Though diatomaceous earth is a natural product derived from little shell creatures, you should wear a mask when spreading it about as it can lead to silicosis (a miner’s disease).

  • Like 🙂

    I’m just waiting to hear after all this you’ve torched the shed but killed the mites!

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