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Post by Ploshkin on 24th August 2020, 12:27 pm

I have the most horrendous infestation of red mite in my big chicken house. I've never seen red mite before this year though I've always checked the perches and used red mite powder when I clean out the house. A few months back I saw red things under the ends of the perches and knew what they were immediately. So, I have been religiously blowtorching under the perches and using red mite powder on them and in the nest boxes every week.
I went to have a big clean out the other day and there were large patches of them. As I started blowtorching I realised that the whole back wall of the house was moving! I hadn't known that they were miniscule and grey when they haven't been blood sucking. So, I've locked the birds out of the house (they have a big, covered run that they can perch in and I have put a couple of nestboxes for them to lay in.
I have pressure washed the house 4 times now but today I have come to the conclusion that I am just going to have to burn it. I thought I was finally getting on top of them and thought it was safe to go inside and have another torching but as I turned round I could see them literally raining down from the roof. I have just dumped my clothes and been in the shower yet again. I'm reluctant because it's a 6' x 4' house that I designed and built myself and it has worked so well and always been totally waterproof and easy to manage. Trouble is it is tongue and groove timber so numerous crevices for the blighters to hide in. 2 of my birds have died in the last 3 weeks and I now know that they were likely anaemic in addition to reduced condition because of moulting and I feel really bad because I had no idea that the mites could infest so badly.

To add insult to injury I put the first trug of droppings and shavings in my compost bin before I discovered the problem and now I have an infestation in my compost bin! I have been spraying it with detergent which is supposed to kill them. They can apparently live for 8 months without a blood feed. And, I've discovered that they bite!
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Post by freebird on 24th August 2020, 3:53 pm

Oh Ploshkin, that sounds absolutely hideous. I'm sure you will have looked into every conceivable course of action, but just wonder whether there is anything you could use to either spray from a safe distance, or fumigate the house. A quick Google search shows me that red mite smoke bombs are available. If you could eliminate the majority with fumigation, then use a spray once it is safer to enter, you might be able to avoid destroying the house completely.
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Post by Ploshkin on 24th August 2020, 4:07 pm

I did think about fumigation but I wouldn't be able to make the house airtight. When I made the house I made sure it was well ventilated.
I think they must be one of the few species that would survive a nuclear holocaust - I've sprayed my compost bin 3 times today and some are still crawling around.
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Post by Dandelion on 24th August 2020, 9:53 pm

That sounds really nasty Ploshkin - does the peculiar weather this year have anything to do with it?

................................................................................................................................
The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by Ploshkin on 24th August 2020, 10:13 pm

I have noticed that with it being dry earlier in the year the flies, horseflies etc seemed to appear suddenly late on when it got really humid and the mites exploded at the same time.
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Post by FloBear on 25th August 2020, 8:11 am

Oh, Ploshkin, what a horrible shock for you.
A few years ago my neighbours - only keeping a small number of chickens - had to destroy the birds and the house because they had such a bad infestation.
I only have 5 chickens and have plastic houses with hardly any crevices so rarely get a problem, thank goodness.
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Post by Ploshkin on 1st September 2020, 7:10 pm

I'm still at war with the red mite. Every time I think I'm getting on top of them I find more. I had a chat with a fellow beekeeper who is a pest controller and he has recommended something - it's got choc in it's name so perhaps its related to novichoc! Its a strong insect killer that has a 3 month residual effect - I can't see any other way of getting rid of them. It's getting rather daunting now.
I've put one chicken house on the bonfire. I've given the big one a reprieve until I've tried the novichoc.
I'm looking for some moulded, plastic nest boxes that are crevice free.
I think it's a bit of an omission on the smallholder / hobby chicken websites that they don't mention how bad an infestation can get. A pest control website is the only place I've read that they can bite humans (I'm proof of that) and you need to be careful not to transfer an infestation to your house.
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Post by Dandelion on 2nd September 2020, 9:47 am

I think the nesting boxes in eglus are all integral so can't be removed/sold seperately - I don't know about plastic nesting boxes (but will keep my eyes open when I'm in poultry suppliers). I only found out recently that you can get red mites in plastic chicken houses, but they are less likely. I'm still trying to get my new hens inspected for lice, but they are so anxious about humans that I can't get anywhere near them. I had been sraying them with anti-pecking spray/gentian violet at night, taking them out of the nesting box, but they have got so fed up with being disturbed that two of the hens are now standing guard in the run at night, and alert the others if they see our torch! The other issue is that as a wearer of bifocals, I just can't see well enough at night, even with my other half holding the torch, to inspect them properly. I have been building up their confidence during the day by being with the hens in the garden and feeding treats etc, but I think I've blown it all by trying to pick up the one who is the barest (to look at her skin and spray with gentian violet) yesterday - I had my fingers gently on her back and she squawked and was very alarmed. It'll be a fishing net soon...

................................................................................................................................
The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by Ploshkin on 3rd September 2020, 9:17 pm

I've resolved my red mite problem (I hope).  I have burnt the second chicken house today.  After 6 pressure washings and 2 or 3 sprayings there were still thousands of mites crawling out of the woodwork and I decided that I was fighting a losing battle.  I actually found out today that my neighbour has the same problem so I don't feel quite as bad about it now.
I've got 2 unused small sheds that I bought a couple of years ago from someone who was moving.  I'm putting perches in them and I'm going to spray them with novichoc before they are occupied.  I hope I've found a good solution for nest boxes.  We have loads of rectangular plastic buckets with lids that had sheep licks in them.  I'm going to cut a hole in one end and put shavings in the bottom.  I'll be able to take them out and take the lid off to clean them easily.  Another advantage should be if I have a broody because I'll be able to move the nest, complete with chicken, to somewhere else.
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Post by freebird on 3rd September 2020, 10:56 pm

I'm sorry you have had to take such extreme measures, Ploshkin, and really hope that you have finally seen the back of them.
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Post by FloBear on 4th September 2020, 7:22 pm

I think you're right about not enough information about red mite on websites for hobby chicken keepers, Ploshkin.

Sorry to hear you had to resort to burning, handy that you had a couple of sheds knocking about, though! Hope the novichoc keeps the next generations at bay.
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Post by Dandelion on 4th September 2020, 9:35 pm

The nesting boxes sound ideal.

................................................................................................................................
The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by Ploshkin on 19th September 2020, 10:30 pm

Well, I threw in the towel and burnt my 3rd house. Its a small one that is easily portable and I use it for young birds. I thought it had escaped a severe infestation. I brush painted it with 'novichoc' a few days ago and a few mites came out of the woodwork but died straight away. Today I vthought I would do the underside as well and turned it on its side. The bottom was covered with millions of them, standing room only. It went straight on to the pyre.
I have been looking for something to replace the small house, it was 4' x 2' without a nest box. Plastic houses are ridiculously expensive and unnecessarily elaborate.

One thing that is a success is the free, bucket nest boxes.
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Post by Dandelion on 19th September 2020, 10:33 pm

Oh no, what a disappointment.

................................................................................................................................
The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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