Red mites (Dermanyssus gallinae) are small
parasitic blood-feeding mites that have a waxy outer coating. They affect birds
that roost, in particular poultry in the warmer seasons. Mites do not live on
the bird, they generally reside in small cracks, holes and crevices in housing,
but they become active at night, gaining access to the bird to feed.
Mites typically spend 30-60 minutes on the bird and then after feeding they return to the crevices away from direct light, to mate and lay eggs. Red mites need blood to reproduce, once they feed, they lay their clutches of eggs and repeat again after each blood meal. The lifecycle of a red mite can be completed within 7-17 days, however eggs hatch within 2-3 days ultimately causing a rapidly growing population of red mites in only a matter days.
Continuous measures should be put in place to be on the lookout for any mite presence in your lofts, key indicators of mite presence would be:
Due to the quick
reproduction rate, usually by the time you have noticed the red mites in
your lofts, it may be too late and the infestation may have
already begun. You might
have observed unwanted health issues with your birds such as:
Although eradicating red mite can be difficult, it is
not impossible with the right product. Many pigeon fanciers use liquid based
pesticide sprays in their lofts, which although can help, it generally is only
effective upon direct application for a few hours. Often applied during the day
when mites are hidden, so a lot of them can be left undamaged.
Powder based products such as Diatomaceous Earth when used correctly, can be a highly effective solution to keeping mites out of your lofts. Using a dry brush is ideal, for application in to holes, crevices and cracks, where mites may be residing and move from onto the birds during the night. DE remains effective for 2 weeks or more.
Some fanciers also like to use it as part of a dust bath
so the pigeons can get some of the powder ruffled in their feathers, preventing
the mites from accessing the skin.
It is an effective 100% natural way of controlling mites without using any unsafe chemical or pesticides in the process. Diatomaceous earth (DE), is sourced from sea fossils known as diatoms.
Diatoms are very tiny, abrasive and sharp fossils which can
be viewed only under a microscope.
DE is effective at killing mites and other insects that
have a waxy outer coating. When red mites come into contact with DE, the waxy
coating is damaged due to the abrasive properties of DE and mites consequently
dry out and die. If housing is infested, remove birds temporarily, remove
litter, and apply thoroughly to all clean, dry surfaces including corners, crevices
and under perches. Reapply every 3-4 weeks to ensure lifecycles are
continuously interrupted. Use routinely as a preventative measure.
Anpario's Mitex is a natural mineral mite control powder effective against most types of insects and mites, including red mites, hog lice and grain weevils.
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