How to Kill Red Mites

Getting rid of red mite is no easy task and it can be very frustrating knowing they are feeding on your birds at night. This article gives you the information you need on how to kill red mites.

Many fanciers have spent a long time treating their chicken house to find the number of red mite multiplying rapidly again within a couple of weeks. So how can we rid the chicken coop of red mite? Well first we have to understand the life cycle of the mite before we can launch our attack on these little red devils.

Life cycle of the red mite

The list below details the life cycle of a female red mite.

  • A blood feed takes 1 to 2 hours.
  • After feeding a female red mite crawls into a crack or crevice to mate and lay eggs.
  • During mild weather, eggs hatch and the larvae emerge in 2 or 3 days.
  • 24 hours later, larvae change into 8 legged protonymphs.
  • The protonymphs change into deutonymphs 24 to 36 hours later.
  • They start to feed and become adult red mites. The females start to lay eggs again and the cycle is repeated.
  • The complete cycle takes about 7 days to complete.

Control methods

Spraying Red MiteWhen treating your birds’ house to get rid of red mite, you need to keep their life cycle in mind. Most people treat the house once and then believe they have solved the problem but it is almost impossible to remove all mites in one go and you should re-treat the house several times at regular intervals until there are no more signs of red mite.

Often, it is only possible to reduce the numbers of mites to a manageable level where you can continue to monitor them and keep them under control by regular treatment when cleaning out.

During warm weather, poultry mites can reproduce in about a week. Treating after a week has passed can mean the eggs that you didn’t get the first time will have hatched, grown into adult laying mites and laid thousands more eggs. Ensure you re-treat no later than every 5 to 6 days to ensure the eggs that survived the first treatment and hatched cannot develop into egg laying adults.

In order to stand a chance of getting rid of red mite completely, you need to break their life cycle. To do this and stop them multiplying dramatically, repeat treatments after 5 to 6 days even if you don’t see any activity. The eggs that managed to survive the first treatment will have hatched but the mites won’t be mature enough to lay more eggs.

Red mite treatments

Once you understand the life cycle of the mite, there are a number of different products on the market that can be used in the fight against red mite. It is usually more effective to use a combination of products that work in different ways. For example liquids run into the cracks and crevices where red mite hide away during the day but soon dry up. Powders such as diatom last for longer and can be useful for dusting birds (if approved for use on birds) and dusting perch ends to stop mites from reaching birds as they roost at night. Some of our favourite red mite products can be found on our Red Mites: Our Top 8 Products page with information about how they work and links to various suppliers too if you want to buy them.

If you are interested in reading a practical page on How To Get Rid of Red Mite then there is a blog post I wrote here where I used a pressure washer and diatom to get rid of red mite in one of my coops.

Good luck, hopefully this will have given you a better understanding on how to kill red mites.

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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.