Red Mite: Our Top 8 Products

As a hobby poultry keeper, I have battled with red mite on many an occasion. The ‘Top 8 Red Mite Control Products’ started off as a blog post I wrote about My Top 4 ‘Safe’ Red Mite Products. After this, I got into a number of discussions with other local fanciers on ‘the things we keep in stock’ and we came up with a top 5, then a top 8 ‘red mite products’ that we use in the battle to control red mite in our coops.

Red Mite Control ProductsThe last few years has seen an increasing number of ‘safe’ or ‘natural’ products emerge on the market in a bid to fight against the poultry red mite. Commercially, there is more awareness in the use of chemicals in farming. Red mites have developed a resistance to a number of common chemicals that have been used in commercial premises and the UK Government has also recently banned some chemicals that were used to treat poultry houses with mites.

Whilst some products are safer to use than others and some suitable for organic use, you should still wear protective clothing such as a face / dust mask when dusting or spraying to stop inhalation and rubber gloves to protect hands from coming into contact with these products. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Cleaning a Chicken House with Red Mite

It is interesting to note that the old poultry books rarely mentioned red mite as they were not so much of a problem to poultry fanciers back then. Both commercial and domestic poultry houses used to be soaked annually in Creosote and it was thought that this was having two actions. As well as preserving the wood, it was also stopping red mites from taking up residence in the coop and it appeared to be killing off red mites that had already set up home. Unfortunately, it appears that the modern Creosote substitutes don’t have the same effect and they won’t deter mites from taking up residence once the coop is dry.

Types of red mite control products

There are essentially two methods of attack: treatment on the bird and treatment of the poultry house. Red mite are a temporary ecto-parasite, spending only a couple of hours feeding on the bird, and can be found mainly in dark places in the coop, so most of your effort should be concentrated on the housing, especially in the cracks and crevices.

1. Products that can be used on your bird’s housing

  • Liquids will penetrate into cracks, crevices and joints.
  • Powders have a long-lasting effect and can be dusted around bedding and nesting material.
  • Smoke will penetrate into the smallest of cracks.

2. Products that can be used on your chickens

  • Can discourage mites from biting.
  • Some products can kill mites if they bite.
  • Products that kill mites often are not licensed for this use in birds producing eggs or meat for consumption.

Red mites are particularly resilient and can multiply quickly. They are capable of surviving several treatments of any product. To stop them multiplying dramatically after treating the chicken coop, it is best to re-treat again after 5 to 6 days when the eggs that managed to survive the first treatment have hatched, before they are old enough to lay eggs again.

Our Top 8 products for treating Red Mite

Here are our favourite products for treating red mite. Links are also included to suppliers of these products.

1Poultry ShieldPoultry Shield Treats: Housing
Probably THE most popular product amongst all poultry keepers that is used for weekly cleaning as well as for red mite control. Poultry Shield is a liquid detergent that is very safe to use, containing no pesticides. It is diluted at 1:10 with water when used for general cleaning and washing the house or if you suspect a red mite infestation. It works by washing the protective wax coating off the mite and after 24 hours or so, they dry out and die. Being a liquid, it gets into cracks and crevices around the chicken house where mites will be hiding during the daytime.

2DiatomDiatom Treats: Housing & Birds
Probably the next most popular product, if not joint ‘most popular’ with Poultry Shield. Diatom is usually used in conjunction with Poultry Shield. Once the house is dry, diatom can be spread around, concentrating on perch ends and nest boxes for ongoing protection. Diatom can also be used for dusting your birds down and can be added to dust baths to allow birds to rid themselves of lice. It is basically Diatomaceous Earth so comes under a number of different names but just like the Vacuum Cleaner and Hoover, the name Diatom is often used rather than Diatomaceous Earth which is a bit of a mouthful. It is fossilised algae which has microscopically sharp edges that damages the outer waxy coating of the mite and absorbs the body fluid so the mite dehydrates and dies. It is a very safe, natural product.

3Red Mite PowderRed Mite Powder Treats: Housing & Birds
Barrier Red Mite Powder can be used in a similar way to Diatom on the housing and the birds. Barrier Red Mite Powder can be used in Organic systems since it falls into the exempt category of products which use only plant oils as active ingredients. It contains tea tree which acts as a natural repellent. It comes in a handy shaker tub and is easy to apply to birds and has a residual effect that lasts for a number of weeks after application.

4Smite PowderSmite Powder Treats: Housing & Birds
Smite Powder is another Diatomaceous Earth product which is fossilised algae. This has microscopically sharp edges that damages the outer waxy coating of the mite and absorbs fluids so the mite dehydrates and dies. Smite powder should be used as Diatom above, concentrating on the ends of perches and in nest boxes so mites have to go through it to get to birds.

5SmiteSmite Professional Treats: Housing
Smite Professional comes with a handy pump that allows you to dispense the right amount into water to get the correct dilution. One pump = 30ml or 3% per litre of water. Use a 6% (two pumps) dilution per litre to treat. Use a garden sprayer to get into cracks and crevices for the best results. The thing I like about Smite is it’s easy to dilute and goes a long way.

6Ardap SprayArdap Treats: Housing
Ardap spray is an insecticide. It will kill pretty much any insect that will fly or crawl including flies and other diptera, beetles, cockroaches, moths, spiders, wood-lice, ants, mites and silverfish. It kills on contact so is useful for concentrating on areas where lots of red mite can be seen visually. When I’m short on time during the week, I keep a can handy to spray into the cracks if I see mite activity.

7Forte Fog FumerMini ForteFog Fumers Treats: Housing
Mini ForteFog ‘P’ Fumers are ‘smoke bombs’ that can be placed inside the chicken coop. They contain 13.5% Permethrin, an insecticide that kills mites as well as other insects. These are very easy to use but remember to shut the birds out, close the door of the coop and block off normal ventilation openings so the smoke filters out through the cracks where the red mite are hiding.

8Red Mite XRed Mite-X Concentrate Treats: Housing
Barrier Red Mite X Concentrate cleans and disinfects poultry housing and is safe to use around feeding areas. It has a sticky consistency that immobilises the mite which then kills it. It is also suitable for Organic systems.

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Tim Daniels

Tim is the founder of the poultrykeeper website and lives in Herefordshire, UK. He keeps Cream Legbar chickens, Silver Sebright bantams and hybrid layers for eggs, Abacot Ranger ducks, Brecon Buff geese and some quail.