How to Get Rid of Red Mite Infestation

How to Get Rid of Red Mite Infestation

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Washing a Chicken House to Get Rid of Red Mites

I went on holiday for a couple of weeks during the summer to find one of my chicken houses was full of red mites when I returned. Not just on the ends of the perches but in every crack and crevice and every corner. A red mite infestation is notoriously difficult to remove once they get a grip on a chicken house. This is how I got rid of this serious infestation using a pressure washer, Poultry Shield and Diatomaceous Earth.

It’s a common story when the weather is warm, red mite multiplies very quickly (their life cycle is complete in about a week) and before you know it, you’ve got a serious infestation to deal with.

Here’s how to get rid of red mites on chickens.

First step...

If you're not familiar with red mite at this point, before you read on, I would strongly suggest you pop over to my 'Ultimate guide to red mite'. This gives the low-down on this nasty little red ectoparasite, its lifecycle, and photos to help you identify it.

Dealing with a red mite infestation

So how to get rid of red mites on chickens when there is a large mite infestation in your coop? Normally, I would wash the house down with Poultry Shield for small numbers of mites and use other red mite treatments (the link takes you to my top 8) here and there as spot treatments to kill off these unwanted visitors.

Still, with so many mites in the chicken house, more serious action is required to kill as many of them as you can.

Here’s what I do:

Allow a good couple of hours…

Cleaning

  • Clean out the house, remove all loose bedding material. Strip the house down as much as you can.
  • Remove as many parts of the coop as possible, including pop holes and anything else that will unscrew easily.
  • If you have a felt roof, remove it – yes, unfortunately, you will need to re-felt the roof or replace it with something less ‘mite friendly’. You will find millions of red mites will still live happily under the felt if you don’t.

Poultry Shield

  • Soak the cracks with Poultry Shield (other liquid brands are available, this is just my favourite and is very safe to use).
  • Leave the Poultry Shield to soak in for 10-15 minutes.
  • Using a pressure washer, wash the house and other parts you removed. Get the spray in every crack and crevice. This will take about 30 minutes if done properly. If you miss a crack, hundreds of mites could be hiding in there, so it’s imperative to make sure you get into everywhere possible. The spray will bounce back and soak you at times, so wear old clothes and be ready to get wet and potentially covered in some mites, Urrhh.
Cleaning Chicken House Red Mite Treatment
Try to get in to as many cracks and crevices as possible.
  • Wait for the house to dry for 10 to 15 minutes. Now look at it carefully – you should see red mites crawling around. These are the guys that are disturbed and were missed during the first treatment coming out of hiding.

And, repeat...

  • Soak again with Poultry Shield, then go over the house again from top to bottom with the pressure washer, concentrating on the cracks to disturb the red mites.
  • 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. It took me 3 cycles to clean my coop.

Diatomaceous Earth

I wrote a Guide on Diatomaceous Earth for Chickens, so I won’t go into too much detail. Still, I always keep a tub of diatomaceous earth in stock at home because it is useful for treating hens with lice and removing red mites from chicken houses.

I buy either a 2Kg or 5Kg tub and use that to refill a smaller shaker bottle. You can buy Diatomaceous Earth from specialist poultry product suppliers, many of whom sell on Amazon.

Diatomaceous Earth for Chickens
  • Put your chicken 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 like a plastic tarpaulin is ideal.
  • Add fresh bedding material as you would after cleaning normally.

Other useful articles & guides on red mite:

Sprinkling Diatomaceous Earth in a Chicken House
Sprinkle generous amounts of Diatomaceous Earth around the bedding, cracks and perch ends.
  • Sprinkle a generous amount of diatom on the bedding. The manufacturers recommend 500g per Meter squared, which is quite a lot.
  • Put a handful of diatom into your hand and rub it into each perch, taking particular care around the ends and the underside. When you have finished, it will 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.

Rubbing Diatomatious Earth into a chicken house perch
Rub Diatomaceous Earth into the perches, especially any cracks.

If you got into 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 these areas using a hand-held plant mister.

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

Finally

If you have any other tips on how to get rid of red mites on chickens and controlling red mite or would like to leave a comment then please feel free to do so below.

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

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153 Responses

  1. 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…

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. 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!

    1. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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).

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