Treating Red Mite With Diatomaceous Earth is the main way to get rid of a red mite infestation within your chickens. It’s a super easy solution, to a problem that can eventually kill your birds, if left untreated. The birds and their housing should be treated, either on a precautionary basis, or when you know there is a problem.
What are Red Mites?
Red mites are blood sucking parasites that feast on chickens and turkeys. They are very hard to see, due to their size. However, they are visible, especially in larger number.
Being small, they can hide in the small nooks and crevices. Typically, they will come out at night, travel along the perch to find the bird, and begin feeding. Some will then return to their hiding place, where others will continue to live on the bird.
Red mites will also lay their eggs on chickens. Typically, this happens around the area of the vent. You’ll see small what balls stuck to the base of feathers. You may also see cream-coloured small insects running around. These are at the Nymph stage, and have not yet fed on blood. Once they have eaten, they will turn red. They will then vary between dark red and light red depending on how recently they have eaten.
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous Earth is basically the fossilized remains of diatoms, a hard shelled microalgae that lived millions of years ago. It is a soft powder, and might feel a bit like flour between your fingers. It has many uses, including in industry, and can be used in such things as toothpaste and polishes.
Whilst it may feel soft to the touch, on a microscopic level it is more like shards of glass. When viewed under a microscope, this can be seen. As the red mites crawl over this, or through it, the small particles lodge under the mites plates, and cause injury that leads to death.
Diatomaceous Earth can be purchased from most feed stores. However, be aware that they do charge alot for this. It can be sourced cheaper from other locations, especially if you can order in 20Kg bags, and store it.
How do you apply Diatomaceous Earth to chickens?
There are a few different ways that you can use to apply the Diatomaceous Earth, so it can start to work on any mites that might be on the chicken.
The easiest way, is to add it to the chickens dust bath. The reason why birds like a dust bath so much, is to help with mites and creepy crawlers that have got within the feathers. If DE is within the dust bath, it will have a good effect.
The other way is to hold the bird, and apply a small amount to the back of the neck, as far under the feathers as you can. This will then work its way around the bird, and get to where its needed. This may be easier if you have 2 people.
How do you apply Diatomaceous Earth to chicken housing?
This is the one that people seem to struggle with the most. Its vital to remember that it is very hard to use too much diatomaceous earth. The best way to apply inside a coop, is to use a bottle and spray the powder around. This will help to get it into all the nooks and crannies where the mites like to hide. It also needs to be on perches, and again on perch ends. You don’t need a bottle, but it makes it easier. You can use your hands.
Another option is to use a garden sprayer (the sort of thing you would use for weed killer). Diatomaceous Earth can be suspended in water. This means, it can be sprayed onto those places that you can’t reach. When the water dries up, it leaves behind the Diatomaceous Earth to carry on doing its job.
Its really hard to use too much Diatomaceous Earth. However, care should be taken with the eyes, and breathing of the birds when you are using it. You should also be careful not to leave big piles of it in areas where the birds will go.
If you have a big red mite problem, a second, follow up treatment may well be required a week after the first, and then a third treatment. This will be due to eggs hatching, and ensuring that the infestation is dealt with.