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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 28518
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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4 months ago my daughter brought 30 or 40

Resolved Question:

Hello Dr. Pat (or anyone) 4 months ago my daughter brought 30 or 40 chicken mites (probably red) back into our home that got on her clothing while feeding a neighbours chickens. Some we removed, some were brushed off and may have gone in the carpets or couch. 4 months later we have not seen any mites in the house and nobody has been bitten. I know they can theoretically live for some months without a meal, but would we not have seen them by now? My daughter is scared they are still around, but no sightings
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. We don't have many avian vets on this site. You're correct that the chicken mite (Dermanysus gallinae) should have been apparent by now if it were still living. This mite is inactive in winter except in heated poultry houses and I'm going to assume that your heater is on at this time in your home. In empty houses, the mites can remain dormant for 4-5 months in the summer and even longer in winter. The northern fowl mite shouldn't be a consideration because its numbers may dwindle some in the summer but are more severe in winter. Away from its avian host, the northern fowl mite may survive just 3-4 weeks. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Dr. Michael Salkin and other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. Can you clarify how long the chicken mites actually live for and would they be eaten by spiders etc in the house? Specifically my daughter asks "if they aren't in the house any more, where did they go?"
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
You're welcome. Their longevity is predicated upon temperature, humidity and whether or not they have fed. Some mites can survive in the environment for up to 30 weeks without food, making premise treatment critical for effective eradication. If no one has been bitten to date, however, I wouldn't fumigate your home at this time!Spiders do eat mites but I don't know if house spiders eat Dermanysus gallinae. That's an interesting question for your daughter to research. I would tell her that the mites went to heaven. (I couldn't help myself, sorry.) Actually, dead mites dessicate and crumble away. Please continue our conversation if you wish.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Actually I have read that they can survive theoretically for extended periods without food, but is it equally plausible that they could just die in a few weeks or a few months? (The issue here is that my daughter has developed a phobia after having the mites on her and now has an ocd type response of checking etc. Even though nothing seen since the original event.)
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Yes, and in fact that's more common. The ones that live 30 months are the outliers.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
So my daughter is here now! She asks if they can breed without a host and without a host how long would they typically live?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
The female red mite requires a blood meal before laying eggs and so having no host would preclude breeding. Once again, their longevity off the host would be predicated upon environmental factors. Most mites will die within weeks; a few will live for up to 30 weeks. (The sentence in my last post should have said "The ones that live 30 weeks are the outliers.")
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Can we assume that the mites would have shown themselves by now since they would be looking for a host rather than just hiding away until some unspecified future time? (Sorry for the many questions but this is very important for us..)
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Yes, that's an accurate assumption. There's every reason to assume that there are no live mites left in your home.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks Michael, that is all really helpful.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
You're quite welcome. I can't set a follow-up in this venue and so would appreciate your returning to our conversation with an update - even after rating - at a time of your choosing.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Will do. Thanks.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Michael, still no sightings Smile. Can I clarify one of your earlier points. In our house which is in the southern UK, the mites were only seen at the beginning of August as mentioned above. That was summer and since then the house is of course fairly warm and heated. We are also having a mild winter. That being the case, it is now 5 months + since the mites were seen. Given these circumstances, can we now very reliably say that the mites are all dead? 100% reliably?

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Yay! How does 99% sound? Those of us in the medical field are loath to say "100%" about anything!
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

OK, understood!

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Happy New Year, Tony!
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Many thanks and same to you!