Mites like the northern fowl mite, the red mite and the scaly leg mite are tiny and are not easy to see with the naked eye. They cause itchiness in birds and sometimes in handlers too.
Red mites: Dermanyssus gallinae - Live in cracks in the perches and houses during the day and feed from the birds at night. Eggs of red mite will remain viable in an empty chook house for two years. Mites are almost white before they have fed, blood red after a feed and grey / black with partially digested blood so you will see various colours of mites. Infestations appear around perch ends & in cracks in the coup and resemble gray ash.
Scaly Leg Mite: Cnemidocoptes mutans - Causes scaly, raised encrusted scales on the legs. They cause intense irritation to the bird by burrowing under the scales. They are fairly common in Chickens. The scales often look like they are protruding outwards and parts of the scales will come off, making the legs look unsightly. Spread by direct contact, the mite spends it's entire life cycle on the bird.
Northern fowl mite: Ornithonyssus bursae - live on the birds all the time so they are harder to eradicate. mites are very small, measuring 1/64-1/32 inch long. Mites are nearly white when unfed, bright red when recently fed, or gray to black with blood meal partly digested. This type of bird mite infests the bird's back and vent area and feeds off the bird's blood after they become nymphs and adults.
All species of poultry lice have certain common habits. All live continuously on feathered hosts and soon die if removed. The eggs are attached to the feathers. Young lice resemble adults except in color and size. Lice differ in preferred locations on the host, and these preferences have given rise to the common names applied to various species. The incubation period of lice eggs is four to seven days, and development of the lice between hatching and the adult stage requires about twenty-one days. Mating takes place on the fowl, and egg-laying begins two to three days after lice mature. The numbers of eggs probably ranges from fifty to three-hundred per female louse.
Poultry Shaft Louse: Menopon Gallinae - It has a habit of resting on the body feather shafts of chickens where it may be
seen running rapidly toward the body when feathers are parted suddenly. Sometimes as many as a dozen lice may be seen scurrying down a feather shaft. Since the shaft louse apparently feeds on parts of the feathers, it is found in limited
numbers on turkeys, guinea fowl and ducks kept in close association with chickens. It does not infest young birds until they become well feathered.
The Body Louse: Menacanthus Stramineous - Prefers to stay on the skin rather than on the feathers. It chooses parts of the body that are not densely feathered, such as the area below the vent. In heavy infestations, it may be found on the breast, under the wings and on other parts of the body, including the head. When the feathers are parted, straw-colored body lice may be seen running rapidly on the skin in search of cover. Eggs are deposited in clusters near the base of small feathers,
particularly below the vent, or in young fowls, frequently on the head or throat. Eggs hatch in about a week and lice reach maturity within twenty days. This is the most common louse infesting grown chickens. When present in large numbers, the skin is irritated greatly and scabs may result, especially below the vent.
Large Turkey Louse: Chelopistes meleagridis - Usually only found on turkeys, behaves similarly to other lice.
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