My Top 4 ‘Safe’ Red Mite Products.

After battling with red mite on many occasions, I have had lots of discussions with other poultry keepers about the products they are using. Some are safer than others (and I won’t tell you about Sam who set fire to his coop trying to get rid of them with a blow torch!) so I decided to list my top 4 ‘safe’ red mite eliminators.

I have tried a number of different ways to get rid of Red Mite from chicken houses and have used a selection of different products in the battle against them. In my experience, there is unfortunately no one product which totally eradicates them after a few applications and there is very little you can do to stop them appearing other than keeping up regular preventative treatments to keep them in check.

Red MitesAbove is a clump of red mite that I found behind the door of my chicken houses, but if you want to see them even closer, there is a good macro photo on this Red Mite page on the Keeping Chickens website.

If you don’t have a red mite problem at the moment then as a minimum, learn to recognise the signs of Red Mite: wipe the underside of the perches at night with a tissue to look for tell-tale blood smears from Red Mites so you can nip them in the bud if they do appear. These are my top 4 Red Mite control products that I wouldn’t be without at this time of year. I have included some links to Amazon to the products which should show you the best current price in their market place. There are of course many products available but these are the ones that I have tried and tested myself and have had good results using them on a number of occasions. The life cycle of a red mite is 7-8 days. Make sure repeat treatments are done before this, ideally every 2 to 3 days or less at first to control numbers. If you only treat every couple of weeks, the numbers will have multiplied several times in warm weather.

1. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth or DE consists of the micro skeletons of fossilised remains of deceased diatoms, which are a type of algae found in both sea water and fresh water. I use this throughout the Red Mite season.
It is organic, safe to use and can also be used at a rate of 5% in feed to help eliminate worms in poultry too.

Don’t expect to sprinkle a little down and have instant results, you need to dust down the cracks where the mites hang out and rub it into the perches (so it’s dusty like a gymnasts bar). Keep applying every couple of days at first until the numbers of mites are reduced, then apply twice a week. It takes 48 hours or so for the mite to dry up but it does work if you are consistent.

Sprinkling DiatomYou can apply this to the birds too and in their dust baths although I tend to use Barrier Red Mite Powder for this as it has tea tree in it which works well as a repellent to insects such as lice and mites.

2. Poultry Shield

Another ‘safe’ product, suitable for organic use that I wouldn’t be without.
Poultry shield is a detergent that has the effect of washing the waxy coating off the red mites causing them to dry up and die. I have heard many people say Poultry Shield does not work – but there is no miracle cure for Red Mite – just like DE above, it takes persistent regular use. It only works if it comes into contact with the mites (you can see it turns a yellow-green colour after washing over the mites) and there will always be some mites hidden away out of reach.

Re-wash the house every 2 to 3 days to prevent the mites from multiplying and keep a hand spray near the chicken house of a stronger solution that can be used to spray into cracks / perch ends daily where signs of red mite are spotted.

Poultry Shield should be diluted in water at a rate of 20 parts water to one part Poultry shield for general use but this dilution can be increased to 10 to 1 for treating an infestation. Poultry Shield gets my number 2 spot because it has been very successful, chicken houses are safe for children to go into after treatment and has been well-tested by a number of poultry keepers over the years.

The manufacturer’s leaflet even says that Poultry Shield can be used in the house with the chickens in there… I wouldn’t recommend that myself but it does give me more confidence about the safety of it.

3. Barrier Red Mite Powder

This Powder is especially designed for use on the birds. The main ingredient is Tea Tree and it is suitable for use in Organic production. The tub suggests it keeps working for up to 6 weeks but personally I dust the birds down every week when there is an infestation to give them some respite at night. I find this helps to fend off lice as well so is a really useful addition to the poultry supply cupboard!

It doesn’t contain pesticides, it is a good natural alternative and definitely worthy of 3rd position in my top 4. I wouldn’t be without a tub in my poultry supply cupboard!

Whilst diatom can be used to dust down the birds, I find Red Mite Powder better thanks to the tea tree which is a natural insect repellent as well as antibacterial disinfectant.

4. Durimitex

This is a spray which I find very effective. I tend to keep a can handy and then if I find any mites during the week when I get home from work and don’t have time to do a full clean, I use this spray.

It is a completely safe and natural treatment for the eradication of red mites, completely pesticide free. The 200ml can is easy to use, with minimal mess. The spray dries almost immediately and (they say…) will completely extradite red mites and eggs in one treatment.

I agree with this statement if the mites come in contact with the area sprayed but there are usually a few that manage to hide away somewhere! Durimitex Spray is available again on Amazon at a reasonable price.


Red Mite is a serious problem and I seem to be writing frequently about them over the summer months. This is because it is so difficult to keep on top of them, but it can be done if you are persistent. Remember when treating, to break the breeding cycle of the mite, you must retreat no more than 7 days later. A female red mites in ideal (warm) conditions can lay 120’000 eggs. So it doesn’t take long to figure out how big the problem can become in just a few weeks!

I managed to get rid of a particularly bad infestation last year in a few weeks with just a pressure washer and diatom. You can read about this in this blog post: How to Get Rid of a serious Red Mite Infestation.

Please leave me a comment and share your experiences, I’d love to hear how you combat this dreaded 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.

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  • Kelly

    This information is so helpful! Thank you! Do you know similar products that are available in the U.S. I am having trouble finding anything like red mite powder or poultry shield.

    • Tim Daniels

      I’m afraid I don’t know of many products in the US – but – I do know of one and that is Diatom / Diatomaceous Earth which is popular in the US. Make sure it is food grade or suitable for poultry since it is also sold commercially for swimming pool filters and other uses. If you find some good products, please come back and share them with us!

  • Janie

    I lost a 15 week old Orpington last week as I did not pick up on the severe infestation I had in my chicken house.
    I was devastated, but did manage to save her sisters.
    Any advice I can get to get rid of this I would appreciate as I am now really worried about the others.
    I have scrubbed the house, sprayed it with Nettex Total poultry solutions
    Total Mite Kill every 3 days.
    I have dusted the chickens as well.
    Tomorrow I am going to clean the house with a power hose.
    What else can I do?

    • Tim Daniels

      Hi Janie, Sorry to hear you lost a hen. I would start with reading our RED MITE article on the main site, then look at the other Blog I did last year on How to get rid of a serious Red Mite Infestation I haven’t used Total Mite Kill but I’m sure it will be helping.

      I would take two approaches:

      1. The house: retreating 3 days is good – they reproduce in 7 days from hatching so keeping this sort of pressure up on them will stop them multiplying. You really need to get into as many nooks and cranies as you can – If they have somewhere to hide they will soon multiply again.

      2. The Chickens: I would keep them well dusted but I would also rub diatom into the perches – so it’s like a gymnasts bar – do this daily. To feed, the mites will need to crawl through the diatom and within a few days will dry out and die.

      Good Luck and do pop back and let us know how you get on.

  • Ian

    Another product is Smite-a-mite. It work the same way as Poultry Sheild, but is a more modern product and slightly cheaper.

  • David Hirst

    You say not to use industrial d.e., only food grade. How can one tell which is which and what are the problems with using the former rather than the later? The stuff I use is a light beige and when sprayed as a slurry prevents red mite for a good 6 months and often longer but seems to have no ill effects at all. It costs about 80p/kg.
    Many thanks,

    • Tim Daniels

      Hi Dave.
      For treating red mite as you describe, I would imagine you would be ok as long as it is pure D.E and doesn’t have any chemicals added. The reason why I say not to use industrial grade D.E is because it is not usually food grade and I often suggest adding it to feed hoppers to help control internal parasites too. The food grade D.E. is being sold as safe for this use.

  • Margaret Hooker

    Hi friends – Thanks for the info. We got rid of all the chickens (except for the pet one,) because we were bothered with mites also on me! Any good help or advice out there? Am using DE, also permethren but so far not successful. May have to use Lindane but that is poisonous.
    thanks for any help you can suggest. Have heard that Paraffin is helpful – is it dangerous on humans??

    • Tim Daniels

      If there are sufficient Mites in the coop and there is a way to get to the chickens around the DE, they will find it.

      I would remove bedding and strip down the coop and try washing as much of the coop and its cracks down as possible 2 or 3 times until no more mites come out, then use the DE rubbed into perches on all sides – every 2 or 3 days. It needs to be like a gymnasts bar so that the mites have to walk over it to get to the chickens.

      I have no experience with Parafin but I would be very careful with it if you decide to use it. Good Luck.

  • Janie

    Well I seem to be winning the battle with the red mites..but it is such a long battle. I have power hosed the house and i am spraying the chicken house evrey week and the chickens as well.
    What a nightmare.

    OK I have a very starnge thing to ask..has anybody ever had a chicken with an extra toe that has withered and dropped off? This has happened with one of my 18week old Orpingtons this week, and I am 100% certain I did not imagine it!
    Comments please.

  • Janie

    Janie :Well I seem to be winning the battle with the red mites..but it is such a long battle. I have power hosed the house and I am spraying the chicken house every week and the chickens as well.What a nightmare.
    OK I have a very strange thing to ask..has anybody ever had a chicken with an extra toe that has withered and dropped off? This has happened with one of my 18week old Orpingtons this week, and I am 100% certain I did not imagine it!Comments please.

    • Tim Daniels

      Janie I have never heard of the ‘extra toe’ but will keep an eye out for information on this for you…

      Great to hear you are winning the battle. I have recently been in contact with the University of Newcastle who are running some trials on 50 natural plant extracts to see which ones have an effect on Red Mites. I am hoping to put a new blog post together soon with the results. Garlic fed to the birds (crushed into water) for example has been particularly good here and yesterday I heard that they are finding the same in their trials… which is good to hear!

  • Janie

    I think I now have a mite free chicken house and chickens..but I am going to remain vigilant for the next few weeks.
    I am fascinated by the garlic tip…do the eggs taste of garlic though? I am not sure my 6 month old grandaughter who loves the eggs would appreciate that!

    • Tim Daniels

      I have never noticed my eggs tasting of garlic – however in the past, people have said they have had garlic tasting eggs – I guess if you feed enough, they might well taste of garlic…

      I never really use more than 3 / 4 cloves per 4 litre drinker so I guess it’s not enough.

      Well done on the Mite free house 🙂

  • JG

    I found that steam cleaning our hen house – getting really close with the scalding nozzle into all joints of the wood and every tiny crack or seam, has been a great non-chemical way to kill off many of the resident mites and their eggs. Repeating it a week later, and then a month later into all the corner cracks and usual mite spots has almost eradicated the mites. I will repeat steam in a few months time.

    Also, remove any tar felting on the roofing, as colonies of mites live under that, and drop down onto the hens to feed. Better to have a tarp over the wooden roof, or a plastic roof so you can get in to clean it easily.

    I also disinfected the housing with a dilution of Jeyes fluid, and dust the dry cage with diatom when I regularly change the bedding material.
    The hens are also treated regularly to prevent internal and external parasites.

    So far, steaming has been the most effective method at killing the mites in the henhouse for us, and it isn’t an unpleasant chemical task to do. You can often get a very cheap steam cleaner from car boot sales. Small hand held ones can be used, but that is a bit fiddly. I have even heard of people using wallpaper stripping steamers on the henhouse walls, so …what is there to lose? Give it a go next time you find mites in the hen house.

  • terryboyblue

    is red vinegar any good for getting rid of red mite, thank’s

    • Tim Daniels

      I have never tried it. If you take a jar, put some tissue inside and some vinegar (just enough to wet the tissue) then, drop half a dozen mites into the jar (I find a crack and tap it to get some to mites to fall out). Then after 24 hours and 48 hours, see how many are dead. This should give you an idea of how effective it is. Make sure you aren’t drowning them, they need to be able to stand on the tissue.

  • Valerie Rawlinson

    Hi Tim, Great blog. I have a severe infestation after my girls went to a friend along with their coup while I was on holiday. I have sent for the four items you recommend. And I do have the mite in my house. I don’t know where they but I keep finding them on my hands. Could you tell me if the Eglu Go is easier to keep clear of red mite than a wooden coup?

    • Tim Daniels

      Hi Valerie,

      Thanks for the compliment.

      I have no experience with the Eglu. Personally, I’m not keen on the look but I realise they have their fans. I have emailed Omlet on a few occassions asking whether we could establish some links between our sites and they simply don’t respond to my emails which I think is a pretty poor show to be honest. I bet if I were asking to purchase they would reply!

      Anyway, moans aside, my guess is it might have advantages. Mites will still go onto the plastic and in the gaps bit it might be easier to wash them off. Unless the coup is raised off the floor though, they will crawl back on easily.

      Keep the pressure up on the Mites, making sure you strip off outside (not being funny here!) and wash your clothes on a hot wash if there are mites on them. Shower to make sure you’re not taking them into the house with you.

      Good Luck!

  • jacqui Lamb

    Dear Tim
    Thanks for all the advice on this website. For weeks now we have had a real problem with ‘itchey things’ in the chicken house. These have been transfered into our house by myself and my 2 year old son. I had no idea red mites could be such a problem. I’ve used the dusting powder and numberous tins of flea and mite spray. -only today I went in to collect the eggs and removed some chicken litter with a spade, took my gloves off outside and happened to look at the handle of the spade, my gloves and my arms….crawling with red mites!! yuc. But now it makes sense -the place must be completely infested and probably the roof is. (wood house v old -lots of nooks and crannies). No wonder James and I itch so much in the evenings. Yuc. Buying some sprays etc tomorrow

  • John Ellison

    I discovered a thankfully small infestation of red mite last night. I looked because of the unusual amount of feathers in the run and hut. My solution was a blow torch followed this morning with a good clean and coaltar creosote. I have heard that a lime product can be used but this can’t be ordinary builders lime can it? Does anyone know?

  • Victoria S

    Dear Tim, dead redmite were found on a dropping from one of my hens which I had sent for worm testing. I have blitz the house with DE and poultry shield and have yet to find anything despite a torch, sellotape, white cloth. However I did find mites of some description when I look samples from the run and looked under the microscope. Small not able to be seen with the naked eye, transparent and hairy. I have put DE everywhere and you can see them dying under the microscope. Any ideas what these could be? Are they red mite? Again I have tried to find other evidence but nothing. The girls are scratching a lot but do go to roost OK. Is DE still the way to go? Thanks

    • Tim Daniels

      Hi Victoria, I really don’t believe they are red mite. Red Mite live in the cracks within the coop and you -may- find the odd one or two on the hens during the day but you will find the hens covered at night. It is more likely to be Northern Fowl mites which will live on chickens and are the most common in cooler climates. If you look at one under the microscope, it will look like a spider in shape (but with a bigger body). They can normally be found on the skin during the day and cluster around the vent – hard to see – but they make the vent and feathers around the vent look darker and if you look carefully, you will see mites. Sometimes they are found on eggs in nestboxes and a few ‘rub off’ onto faeces. They move quickly and can crawl up your arm when handling your birds.

      You can control them with diatom dusted onto birds – but – again, it takes time to get rid of them. Whilst I don’t like using non organic / natural products, far better is a pecticide dusting powder approved for poultry that will kill lice / mites. Many poultry keepers will use Ivermectin spot on and many vets prescribe this for birds – it kills external parasites as well as most of the common internal parasites so it might be worth talking to your vet about this. It isn’t licensed for chickens (as they produce eggs for consumption) so technically needs to be prescribed by a vet off license under their clinical judgement.

      I hope you are able to find out what sort of unwanted visitors they are and remove them!

      Finally – make sure they are wormed with Flubenvet (loads of info on if you do a search), now is a good time to worm chickens.
      Good luck and let us know what you discover.

  • Victoria S

    Hi Tim, Thanks for the information. The mites I found were from the soil in the run and I used a x100 microscope so tiny! The diatom is killing them and they dont look like NFM to be honest. They lool like a dust mite. The redmite on dropping was found by a poultry specialist after I sent samples off for worm testing. I have checked Parlsey around the vent and she seems OK but will do again and be through with a torch. I havent had anything crawling on me when handling them or their bedding. I do have some barrier red mitepowder but like you I dont like using insecticides. This contains a chemical based on eucalyptus so I am hoping it is not a chemical as permethrin. I may take her to the vet next week for a once over. Easier with 2 pairs of hands.

    I am a little confused at the moment as to what is going on.

    Thanks Victoria

  • Susanne Lund Kristensen

    Hello Tim Daniels!

    What an informative blog, youve created here! I’m from Denmark, and reading the information here, I am a lot wiser than I was an hour ago.

    I have a problem with red mites in my small wooden silkie-house. Every time, I think, that NOW, they have gone (after a lot and a lot of work with cleaning, washing and spraying – repeated after seven days) it only takes two or three days until I find a new mite! I have struggled in five months now.

    I think, the products availible in Denmark are similar to the ones, that you mention.

    I consider to empty the house and let it be empty for one year. Do you know if it is a safe method? Will the mites die in minus degrees? Or simply starve to death?

    I am absolutely desperate – something radical must take place. I am not able to tolerate a few mites and frequently – again and again – spray with more or less poison – knowing that the problem will never be solved.

    Thanks a lot!

    • Tim Daniels

      Hi Susanne,
      I am sorry to hear you are also suffering with Red Mites in Denmark. Mites will become dormant in colder conditions and will not feed or reproduce as much, however next year, as the weather becomes warm again….
      Last winter we had some very cold temperatures here – as low as -20 in some places. It reached -15 here, yet still the mites came back this year. I have been ‘managing them’ rather than curing them this year. Last year I did seem to get rid of them but it was alot of effort.

      Recently I have been running some experiments that I will share soon – I take some mites in a jar on some tissue paper and then add a few drops of my chosen solution to the tissue and see if they are dead within an hour, 3 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours etc. I found Jeyes fluid to kill them very quickly – but it has to come in contact with them. It is strong stuff and not very ‘organic’ as I prefer but sometimes desperate measures are required when you have 6 chicken houses to clean and red mite infestations.

      I have left one poultry house for 8 months to find some very hungry ‘grey’ mites still alive at the end of the time. This year I am leaving one for a year to see how long they can survive for. They are very resilient.
      Please keep in mind that these mites (in optimum conditions) can hatch out, grow and reproduce in just 7 days! If you are re-treating a house, make sure it is before 6 or 7 days or they will be reproducing at an alarming rate.

      I hope this helps. Good luck and please come back and let us share your experiences later in the year… Tim.

  • paulette


  • ddwb

    can you advise me on what to give the chooks who have been infested by red mites to help them recover – i am addressing the coop etc but the girls are loosing weight and have stopped laying.

    • Tim Daniels

      I would use a mineral / vitamin supplement in their water and ensure they have fresh greens and ad-lib layers pellets. If they are under weight, you could add extra protein by switching to growers pellets for a while or feeding some hard boiled mashed eggs for a while with their food.

  • Pat

    I inherited chooks and coop a week ago. The scratching & over preening became apparent yesterday. Their bedding is changed & burnt. A broody hen is on 8 eggs. How do i do her nesting box & the coop without freaking her out?

    • Tim Daniels

      You should make sure a broody hen comes off the nest daily to feed and toilet. She should be taken off if she doesn’t come off herself. When you do this, you can take the eggs out, dust her and the nest. It’s also worth saying she should be kept in a separate broody house if she isn’t already, otherwise the other hens will peck and kill her chicks when they hatch..

  • pang cama

    We discovered recently a serious serious infestation of these red mites, they crawl all over me and I’m losing my mind. We recently visited family, should we tell them to wash down everything and spray down their furniture and carpet? I really really don’t want to get rid of our birds but I can not handle these mites crawling on me. In the past 10 hours I’ve killed over 40 of them crawling on me. What is the best solution for ridding the house and myself of them?? : ( please help.

  • Kate Broom

    I change bedding from hay to shredded paper a couple of weeks ago and now I have a small infestation of red mites! Is there any connection here? Does shredded paper suit them better, the mites that is? It is easier to burn though. I have composted the paper too – will the mites survive this?

    • Tim Daniels

      I don’t believe so. They seem to live where there are birds roosting and as long as there is somewhere dark for them to hide during the daylight hours, they don’t seem to care what the house is made of or what bedding you use. I have recently found Eucalyptus to put them off, a friend has her coop under a tree and they don’t seem to bother her hens…

    • Alan Simpson

      I use shredded paper in my nest boxes, and untreated wood shavings on the floor, the shredded paper is excellent, like you say it breaks down in no time or it burns beautifully,I have a galvanized garden shed and the sods got into the overlaps, when I got my invasion there is nothing that they don’t invade.

  • Neil

    1) I have ordered red stop for the drinking water, this might help.
    2) I have made a diatom (DE) puffer from an old very well washed & dried bleach bottle. Fill it with an inch of DE and shake it hard, it then puffs out like smoke when gently squeezed, You can see the powder blowing through cracks on the outside of the coup this helps coat the walls.
    At night, when the birds are asleep I quietly puff the sleeping area so the whole area gets a light dusting including the hen.
    This is a supplementary treatment; I don’t advocate it as primary treatment.

  • Wow, sounds like you have a really bad infestation. Once you get on top of them, you’ll need to be vigilant and kill off any further mites you find before they get a grip again.

    • Liane

      I have been cleaning the coop with poultry shield, then spraying it with mite kill concentrate.

      When dry, I have smothered everything with DE, red mite powder and lice powder all mixed together. I also use in the dust box and on the girlies and haven’t seen any more mites. I haven’t found any crawling on me either, so it must be doing the job. They’ve also been laying again which they hadn’t done for months.

  • Alan Simpson

    I am down under in NZ, and I have had excellent results with common old basic household Fly spray, just on dusk I go out every night and give the perches and any old hiding spots a quick squirt, and as a back up I go out and check the perches about 11pm just to see what’s going on, there is the odd time when 1 or 2 are found, but there a no massive infections anymore, I had a massive invasion about 18-24 months ago, and because I had never ever had any outside poultry enter the property, I thought I would have been free of the sods, I was gobsmacked when I came across them, I hatched all of my girls from Eggs in an incubator, it’s taken me well over a year to get rid of them, it is a relentless pursuit that is for sure, and I have tried every thing available that I could get my hands on, and believe me the common old household Fly Spray I have found to be the best.

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