Dermanyssus gallinae

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"Red mite" redirects here. For the red spider mite, see spider mite.
Dermanyssus gallinae
Dermanyssus gallinae mite.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Subclass: Acari
Order: Mesostigmata
Family: Dermanyssidae
Genus: Dermanyssus
Species: D. gallinae
Binomial name
Dermanyssus gallinae
(De Geer, 1778)
Dermanyssus gallinae
Classification and external resources
Specialty Infectious disease
ICD-10 B88.0 (ILDS B88.060)

Dermanyssus gallinae (also known as the red mite, poultry mite, red poultry mite, roost mite and chicken mite) is an ectoparasite of poultry and other bird species.


The mites are blood feeders and attack resting birds at night. They are generally white or greyish in colour, becoming darker or redder when engorged with blood. After feeding, they hide in cracks and crevices away from daylight, where they mate and lay eggs. The mite progresses through 5 life stages: egg, larva, protonymph, deutonymph and adult. Under favourable conditions this life cycle can be completed within seven days, so populations can grow rapidly - causing anaemia in badly affected flocks of poultry. Young birds are most susceptible. The mites can also affect the health of the birds indirectly, as they may serve as vectors for diseases such as Salmonellosis, avian spirochaetosis and Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae.[1]

Dermansyssus gallinae will also bite some species of mammals, including humans, sometimes causing dermatitis and skin lesions,[2][3] but it is widely noted that they are incapable of living and reproducing on human hosts (e.g.[4]).

Clinical signs and diagnosis[edit]

The mites normally feed around the breast and legs of hens, causing pain, irritation, and a decrease in egg production. Pustules, scabs, hyperpigmentation and feather loss may develop.

If they are present in large numbers, D. gallinae can cause anemia in hens which presents as pallor of the comb and wattle.

A presumptive diagnosis can be made in flocks of laying hens, usually based on a history of decreasing egg production, anaemia and mortalities in young or ill birds. Blood spots on eggs indicate infestation within the cloaca of an affected hen. Definitive diagnosis is only achieved following identification of eggs, faeces or the mites themselves

Treatment and prevention[edit]

Ectoparasiticides can be used to treat affected poultry. These chemical controls, if used, should be used in rotation to avoid the build up of resistance. Red mites can survive for up to 10 months in an empty hen house. Creosote treatment of wood will kill mites[citation needed]. Prevention of infestation in a human habitation consists of eliminating vectors (pigeons in eaves, infested backyard poultry, etc.). Elimination of an infestation in a human habitation is best achieved through a combination of eliminating potential vectors (nesting pigeons, backyard poultry, etc.); reducing potential hiding places (rugs, clutter); judicious use of pesticides; consistent use of dehumidifiers to maintain a low humidity environment; maintaining a low temperature in the environment; frequent thorough cleaning; minimizing the amount of time spent in the home; and maintaining excellent hygiene and exercise habits. Treatment of infestation may require topical and oral medication such as ivermectin and may require several months to eradicate.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]