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Red Mites

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Red Mites

Red Mites (scientific name: Dermanyssus gallinae) are a pest belong to the Arachnida class which is the same class of pest as spiders. Like spiders red mites have 8 legs, and aren't an insect which have 6 legs. Unlike spiders, red mites are very small, approximately 1mm in diameter

Red mites are obligatory haematophagous  feeders which means they suck on blood of the host animal. They are usually associated with birds but can be carried in nature by vermin such as rats and mice. This is often how they first arrive at chicken housing, unless an infested bird is introduced to the flock or an infested wild bird comes into contact.

Red mites reside on surfaces or in cracks and crevices and only move onto the bird to feed. They can cause anaemia and stress to birds and are possible vectors of diseases. A severe infestation of red mites can manifest as weight loss, feather loss or even death of birds. Once established they are difficult, if not impossible to eradicate.

The lifecycle of the red mite is very fast with progression from egg to fertile adults within 7 days under ideal conditions. Red mites can survive for a very long time without food, up to 6 months.

A female adult can lay up to 200 eggs so within a very short space of time a small population can become millions. As can be seen on the lifecycle picture below, the larvae do not feed on birds, only the nymph and adult stages. This means that larvae do not need to have birds nearby for a blood feed to progress to nymphs, but nypmhs will not progress to the fertile adult stage without birds to feed on.

Lifecycle of the red miteLifecycle of the red miteFemale adults also require a blood feed to provide the protein necessary to produce eggs, much like a female mosquito. Females are also only reproductive for approximately 8 weeks, despite the possible long lifespan of the mites, so keeping the mites away from the birds is an effective way of limiting the population growth and reducing the population size.

This fast lifecycle also means that resistance development to traditional synthetic insecticides is very common and can occur quite rapidly. Resistance to pyrethroids such as permethrin, pyrethrin or cypermethrin is very common amongst red mite populations.

Traditional means of managing mite populations often fail because of a lack of understanding of fundamental aspects of the red mite, such as lifecycle, habitat and attributes. Often the products used are 'standard' insecticides which may not even be suitable for mite control. To our knowledge, none of the products recommended except Banshee have been assessed by the regulatory watchdog in New Zealand, the ACVM.

Banshee is a product containing natural essential oils which has been developed by our entomologists and chemists specifically to manage red mite populations and is 100% manufactured here in New Zealand.