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Poultry Mites

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Poultry Mites

Poultry Mites:Mites are not insects; they are more closely related to ticks and spiders. Most mites are visible to the unaided eye and usually measure 1/8" or less in length. Their life cycle has four basic stages: egg, larva, nymph and adult. The egg hatches into a larval stage, which molts to the nymphal stage.

Poultry Mites

Poultry Mites

There are two major types of mites found on the body of poultry. They are the Northern Fowl Mite and the Chicken Mite .The Northern Fowl Mite is the most common external parasite in poultry, especially in cool weather climates. It sucks blood from all different types of fowl and can live in the temperate regions of the world. As compared to the Chicken Mite, the Northern Fowl Mite primarily remains on the host for its entire life cycle. These mites can live off the host bird for 2 to 3 weeks. These mites are small and black or brown in color, have 8 legs, and are commonly spread through bird-to-bird contact.

The Tropical Fowl Mite is comparable to the Northern Fowl Mite but lives in the tropical regions.The Chicken Mite is a nocturnal mite that is primarily a warm weather pest. These mites suck the blood from the birds at night and then hide in the cracks and crevices of the houses during the day. Chicken Mites are dark brown or black, much like the Northern Fowl Mite.

Life Cycle: The major difference between these two North Carolina mites is their feeding time. Chicken mites are usually nocturnal; they hide in sheltered areas of the poultry house during the day and feed upon the host at night. Northern fowl mites are found on or nearby their hosts continuously, even during the day. The life stages of both mites consist of the egg, larva, protonymph, dentonymph, and adult. With the chicken mite, 12 to 24 hours after its first blood meal fertilized females lay batches of three to seven eggs in crevices or under debris in poultry houses. During her lifetime of several months, she lays up to 32 eggs. Incubation lasts 48 to 72 hours. The larva, which does not feed, molts in 1 to 2 days to a protonymph, which takes a blood meal. In a few days, it molts to the dentonymph which does not feed.

This stage molts to the adult stage after 1 or 2 days. Under optimal conditions, a life cycle (egg to egg-laying adult) req uires only 7 to 9 days. However, both feeding nymphs and adults may go several weeks without blood meals, thereby increasing the duration of the life cycle. Chicken mites usually hide in cracks during the day and feed only at night. Northern fowl mites usually spend the whole life cycle on the host although when large numbers of mites occur, the mites may team on nesting materials and eggs. Northern fowl mites can survive about 3 weeks in the absence of a host, whereas chicken mites may survive several months without feeding.

Damage: Mites are most commonly transferred to chickens,turkeys and gamebirds through wild birds such as sparrows, starlings, swallows and pigeons roosting or nesting in the poultry house.Because visiting birds can transfer deadly diseases and parasites, try to prevent wild birds from resting or roosting in your small flock’s house.Rodents have also been known to transfer mites to poultry. Mites can live off the host for several weeks to months; thus, clothes, hands and egg flats are minor sources of mite transfer.County and state fairs, or anytime a bird from your flock comes into contact with other birds, should be considered another means of mite transfer.

Early detection of mites by regular monitoring of the flock is the best control of mite infestation. The chart on page 2 will help determine the type of mite infestation in your flock. Microscopic evaluation and differentiation of an actual mite from your birds is the most accurate way of determining the type of infestation and, therefore, appropriate treatment. Once the mite has been identified, an appropriate treatment can be determined. These treatments may involve spraying pesticides and chemicals on birds, nests, litter or in the building.

Controls: Sanitation and cleanliness are the keys to lice and mite control. Sanitation includes cleaning and disinfecting housing facilities and equipment between flocks. Moreover, reducing people traffic through housing facilities is recommended. Eliminating the contact between flocks and wild birds can reduce the potential transfer of external parasites. Treat the walls, floors, roosts, nest boxes, and the birds simultaneously.

Poultry Mites

Poultry Mites

When dusting an entire house, be careful to avoid feed contamination. One treatment method for small flocks or individual birds is the use of a dusting bath with Sevin®. Place the bird into a garbage bag containing the medicated powder with the birds’ head out and rotate/shake the bag to completely cover the bird with powder. Be sure not to inhale the medicated powder during treatments. The use of a facial mask is recommended to prevent inhaling this medicated powder. Because the life cycle of lice and mites is. approximately 2 weeks, treatments should be repeated every 2 weeks as needed.

Carefully read all labels prior to treatment to make sure withdrawal times are followed for food-producing poultry. Severe lice or mite infestations can be treated initially with a kitten strength dose of a pyrethrin-based medicated spray on the birds to reduce the initial numbers. If problems persist, contact a veterinarian for treatment with such medications. Prevention is the best method of treatment. For poultry used in exhibition or for new poultry entering the flock, a minimum quarantine period of 2 weeks is recommended. During this time birds should be physically examined and treated if necessary.

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