Anyone who keeps chickens or birds knows that red mites can be a real pest in our cages. Especially when the weather warms up, they harass our animals at night.
The red mite parasitizes on various wild and domesticated birds (mainly ornamental birds, pigeons and chickens). They do not live on the animals, but only visit their hosts to suck blood. Thanks to their heat sensors, they can find potential hosts (heat sources). With the olfactory organ, the most important sense of the mite, they identify the specific fragrances of birds and chickens. The adult red mite is a relatively large mite (0.75–1 mm) that can easily be seen with the naked eye. The colour varies from white/grey to black.
Blood meal of the red mite
For a blood meal, the red mite leaves, usually at night, its hiding place (dark cracks and crevices) to go on the prowl. The red mite stays on the bird for 30 to 60 minutes, after which it goes back to its hiding place. Once full of blood, its colour is light to dark red.
After the blood meal, the red mite can reproduce and lays seven eggs. The eggs develop into larvae and then into nymphs. After seven days the mite is an adult. Because of their short reproductive cycle, a red mite population can double every six days. Even without taking blood, the red mite can survive for eight to nine months.
What are the symptoms of a red mite infestation?
Animals become restless because of red mites and the feathers can become rough. The birds sometimes leave the nest, resulting in poor egg laying and mortality in the eggs. In case of severe infection, anaemia develops and the birds become listless. Young birds (especially nestlings) can die, the adult birds lose a lot of weight. The red mite is also often an important vector of all kinds of diseases such as salmonella, E. coli, etc.
Surviving in the winter
The entire red mite population will not perish due to freezing cold. This is because the population is divided into different stages: eggs - young red mites - adult red mites.
Adult red mites do die because of the freezing cold. A red mite is actually 'awakened' at temperatures above 5°C and is then also able to lay new eggs. The problems thus start already in the winter, because the majority of the eggs laid only come out in the spring, when the temperature rises. This explains why there is a sudden major outbreak of red mites during a period with warmer weather.
Bird lovers often only notice red mites when their cages become infested by red mites and victims have already fallen. Regular and thorough checking for red mites (and other ectoparasites) is essential for rapid intervention.
How to detect red mites?
Rub with your finger under the perches and edges of the nests and then check for red pigments on your finger. Sticking double-sided adhesive tape to cages and nesting facilities is also a good tip, as red mites easily stick to the adhesive tape.
In recent years more and more pesticides have been banned because they are harmful to humans and/or animals. The red mite also seems to be building up more and more resistance against the various pesticides in use.
Oropharma MITE-KILLER is a highly efficient and registered biocide specifically for the control of red mites. Oropharma MITE-KILLER is based on very small silicas (3–9 μm) that absorb oils and fats well. The mite crawls over the silica particles and these get stuck between the joints and reduce mobility. The product damages the outer skin layer and the hardened wax layer of the red mites. That leads to dehydration and death. The spray penetrates deep into the red mites' hiding places. It is a physical control of the parasites without the danger of the occurrence of resistance and which is completely safe for the animals.
How to use Oropharma MITE-KILLER?
MITE-KILLER is easy to use. After you have thoroughly cleaned the accommodation, spray MITE-KILLER in all corners, cracks and crevices where red mites can hide (on perches, nest boxes, the bottom of nesting bowls, etc.). The product is deposited as a thin white layer. As long as this thin layer is not covered with dust or other dirt, it remains effective. The animals can be returned to the cages immediately after the treatment.