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Dr. Pat
Dr. Pat, Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 2863
Experience:  25+ years working primarily or exclusively with birds
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We are looking after a neighbour's chickens and have noticed

Customer Question

We are looking after a neighbour's chickens and have noticed a lot of mites on clothes and in hair. However the neighbours previously mentioned some mites from an apple tree which is immediately next to and above the coops. Is there any way to easily distinguish between a fruit mite and a chicken mite?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 2 years ago.
Sorry for the delay, and sorry that no one else took you very reasonable and interesting question. Yes, it is fairly simple but you need a microscope and some knowledge of mite anatomy. A vet familiar with poultry could tell very quickly if they were poultry mites. Ask you vet how they would like the mites be collected. You can use clear tape to stick them to a slide or another tape; you can place them in a drop of mineral oil in some kind of container. Or just brush some with a dry paintbrush into a baggie. There are literally 10's of thousands of species of mites. You may want to contact you local agricultural extension service (if you are in the USA), as many of them have catalogs of agriculturally important mites.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks Pat. We have also just received a communication from our neighbour indicating that they had treated the hens for mites in the recent past. Hence this now seems more likely. What would be your view on what we should do now given that there may be a small number of these mites inside our house? There seem to be differing views on the Internet as to how serious that might be.
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 2 years ago.
Premise treatment for mites can be a nightmare, to be honest. I would recommend a solid ID before going to any huge expenses. Even the parsitic mites have different life cycles that determine treatment. Basically most species feed on the host at night then hide in the daytime in cracks, walls, flooring. Etc. the treatment require exterminators and whole house treatments. Of course I advocate non-hazardous management but again the species of mite is very important in the selection. In animals we treat them also but I cannot give this advice re:human care.Do you have pets? What kinds?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hmm, so are you saying we should wait and see if we have an infestation or that we should definitely go for the ID? It now seems likely that it is a chicken mite and probably the red variety judging by my magnifying glass(!)

Since we are not a 'natural' host, does that mean they can't breed?

Also we have one 2-year-old cat.

Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 2 years ago.
The red poultry mite will feed on many hosts including humans and cats. If you have so many that they are on your skin in day time, you may have a bad infestation. And they can breed just fine. The eggs are usually laid in the environment. So yes, I still recommend an ID as mite can look very similar, and yes start some research on local companies to treat the premises. I would recommend a call to the local County extension, or the local university with a poultry department, for recommendations on treating a household. Mites can be resistant and local mite populations and weather conditions can be very important factors in successful treatment of a home or coop. Sorry it is not more happy news.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
OK, thanks for the advice.