International Gloster Breeders Association

Affiliated to

International-Ornithological-Association
National-Council-for-Aviculture-NCA

International Gloster Breeders Association

Affiliated to

International-Ornithological-Association
National-Council-for-Aviculture-NCA

International Gloster
Breeders Association

Red and Northern Fowl Mite

Red and Northern Fowl Mite

Northern Fowl Mite poses a severe threat to Gloster Breeders throughout the world

The Lifecycle of the Northern Fowl Mite:

Northern Fowl Mite have four life – cycle stages

  • Larvae
  • Protonymph
  • Deutonymph
  • Adult

Six legged larvae hatch in as little as five days, but at that stage they do not feed until after the first moult when their form changes into eight legs as they proceed through nymphal stages into adults. Only protonymphs and adult females feed on host blood. At all stages the Northern Fowl Mite remains on the bird, unlike the Red Mite which migrates on and off the bird.

Mite infestations can easily exceed 50,000 mites per bird and reach as high as 100,000 per bird. Lesions caused by mite feeding are a welfare concern. When Northern Fowl Mites are in their blood-feeding stages, they can cause anaemia, resulting in up to 6% blood loss per day in infested birds.

Additional physical symptoms include:

  • Anaemia
  • Higher rates of mortality
  • Disease susceptibility
  • Decreased feed intake
  • Decreased weight gain

Red Mite

Red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) are the primary mite threat, many breeders management methods lack sufficient efficacy to keep mite infestations under control. 

The Lifecycle of the Red Mite

Very much the same as the Northern Fowl Mite

  • Larvae
  • Protonymph
  • Deutonymph
  • Adult

Complete development of D. gallinae, from egg to adult occurs between 7–14 days. Six legged larvae hatch from the egg but at that stage they do not feed until after the first moult when their form changes into eight legs as they proceed through two nymphal stages into adults. Protonymphs, deutonymphs and adult females feed on host blood. Males feed only occasionally. 

Once on a host, mites feed for short periods of up to an hour, doing so every two to four days and typically during periods of darkness. 

Most breeding conditions are suited to population growth, as temperatures during the general breeding season of March – July fluctuate between 10ºC and 35ºC and there is high relative humidity which combine to facilitate mite reproduction and development.

Even relatively small mite populations have significant impact on breeding outcome, with its potential to spread disease and decimate young chicks in the nest. In extreme cases red mite numbers may be so high that hens become severely anaemic, with mortality resulting from exsanguination.

Increased self-grooming and head scratching both day and night, can be a sign of mite infestation which contributes to decreased weight gain and reduced egg production. 

Additional physical symptoms include:

  • Anaemia
  • Higher rates of mortality
  • Disease susceptibility

Mite bites are painful and induce skin irritation, high stress levels in infested birds, which can lead to:

  • Decreased feed intake
  • Decreased egg production
  • Decreased weight gain

Mite Treatment

During the day, red mite will hide in the cracks of their environment. At night, they will emerge and suck the blood of canary young and hens. They will return to their hiding holes before the light of day appears. Remember prevention is better than trying to cure. 

Using a bird-safe insecticide. 

There are many brands available that are designed specifically for use on birds with mites. Follow the dosage instructions on the product or ask advice on how much and how often to apply. Carefully apply around the plumage, and spray the insecticide into the dark corners of the breeding environment.

  • Ivermectin is an ingredient that can kill lice and mites. 
  • Permethrin is another common insecticide used to kill red mite and lice in birds.
  • These sprays typically do not kill mite eggs. You will have to clean the cage thoroughly to destroy the mite eggs.

Moving the birds. 

It is hard to treat the birds when there are hundreds or thousands of mites crawling around in their cages. Even if you kill all of the mites on the bird, they can be re-infected overnight. 

Spray a clean cage with a reputable recognised treatment, and lay down fresh bedding. After you have applied the treatment, relocate your birds into this temporarily accommodation. 

Place a paper towel or similar on the bottom of this cage to catch any dead mites that are dropping off your bird, remembering to continually replace the paper.

Removing young from the nest. 

Young chicks are especially vulnerable to both mites, treat them at the same time as the adults. Carefully remove them from an infested nest, treat them with a recognized product.

Remove and burn / destroy old nest, create a new nest and return the chicks, making sure you treat the new nest accordingly. Constant vigilance will be needed and possibly a need to continually repeat this process, to ensure that the infestation has been successfully cleared

Empty the environment. 

Since mites like to crawl around in the small nooks of their environment you will be more successful in eliminating the infestation by treating the whole environment. 

Don’t neglect the small cracks and grooves, these are where mites like to live. 

Prevention is better than cure

Keeping your birds in pristine clean conditions is no guarantee that you will not get a visitation from mite into your environment, but good hygiene is an excellent start to keep them at bay.

The mites will appear as small red specks. After a few seconds, the specks may move and disappear into the feathers. The mites are small, so look carefully.

Filling in any nooks, crannies and joints where mites can reside will also help, think about applying silicon to joints. This may be a small or a large job, depending on the size of your housing environment but it is very important to prevent future infestations. 

Regularly treat your birds with a recognised product in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines will help reduce the possibility of mite infestation. 

The simple application of a thick smear of Vaseline on the metal stem of a freestanding nest pan holder and around the underside of the rim of the nest pan can act as a sticky deterrent to mite being able to get to the nest and its content. 

Similar application around a nest pan affixed to the backwall of a cage will have same result.

Visual diligence

energy, excess preening and more can indicate the presence of mite.

If you are concerned that mites have moved in, place a piece of corrugated cardboard or white cloth under the perches. Leave it there overnight and inspect in the morning, you will notice the mite if you have any present in the cage. 

If you think you have mite and are willing to be very careful at night, using a light to shine into the cage, you will see hundreds of tiny specks milling about, then you need to act to eradicate the problem.

Remember that mites carry disease such as atoxoplasmosis, which is passed from one bird to another. Getting rid of the mites is the best way to keep all your canaries healthy.

Bibliography:

Elliott, P. (2021)How to Treat Blood Mite in Canaries. Available at https://www.wikihow.com/Treat-Blood-Mite-in-Canaries#social_proof_anchor  (Accessed Sunday 28th February 2021). 

MSD Health (2021) The Threat of Poultry Red Mites. Available at: https://www.exzolt.com/poultry-mites/poultry-red-mites.aspx (Accessed 28th February 2021).

MSD Health (2021) The Threat of the Northern Fowl Mites. Available at: https://www.exzolt.com/poultry-mites/northern-fowl-mites.aspx (Accessed on Sunday 28th February 2021).

Join the International Gloster Breeders Association

Formed in 1966 the world’s largest All-Gloster Society devoted to keeping, breeding and the welfare of Gloster Canaries.

Join the International Glosters Breeders Association and become an activate member of our community

Join the International Gloster Breeders Association

Formed in 1966 the world’s largest All-Gloster Society devoted to keeping, breeding and the welfare of Gloster Canaries.

Join the International Glosters Breeders Association and become an activate member of our community

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