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#10303 - 06/28/06 08:13 PM Are all mites harmful?

This may be a dumb question, but just tonight I noticed for the first time tiny black, oval-shaped insects crawling around the waterer. I haven't seen the girls seeming especially itchy, but figure these are probably mites. The end of our run butts up against our compost bin and there is a little access hole for them to go into it to pick at the food scraps we toss in. I've done a fair bit of composting with worms and have learned about the many mites that live in that ecosystem and help decompose the food put into it. I have read that these aren't to be worried about (for example, when studying the compost with my school science club kids) at least as far as a worm composting operation goes. Should I be keeping them out of the compost bin? They seem like such nice partners in the composting process, always mixing everything up and nibbling at the scraps they like. I'd hate to lock them out, but will if its giving them anything like mites that might harm them.

Anyway, so I'm wondering if they may have picked up some of these mites and brought them back into the coop. I've had the birds for two years now and this is the first sign of tiny critters. Perhaps its time to clean out and bleach the inside of the coop and to dust the girls with something.



#10304 - 06/28/06 09:18 PM Re: Are all mites harmful?
David T. Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 04/06/05
Posts: 298
Loc: Australia
Hi Steven,

I am unable to comment on the composting question but agree it would be unfortunate if you did have to lock your chickens out of the compost because of mites.

Regardless I think you should clean the coop and dust the girls. If nothing else, better to be safe than sorry. I would also recommend the same process 10 to 14 days later to ensure you get any eggs missed the first time.

Hopefully someone else will have better advice,

#10305 - 06/28/06 09:46 PM Re: Are all mites harmful?
CJR Offline
Coop Master

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 8501
Loc: Montana
Examine the birds, to see if they DO have mites. Mites live on the bird (except Red mites) No need to dust, or disinfect coop, if they do not. Quickly pull the fluffy feathers back around the vent and if there are mites, they will crawl--on the skin- VERY FAST, to get out of the light and back under the feathers. The vent may be red or scabby and clusters of dusty looking egg clumps on the fluff of the feathers around and below the vent. Lice are larger, fleshier and attached around the vent. Easier to kill with dust. Both require contact with the dust or spray, just putting on the top of the feathers will not snuff them. (I have never seen mites off the birds, except as a rare explosion of them migrating on the roost or wires of the pens.)

Chickens love compost and usually it IS a good stirring for the pile, if they have access. (you know Dunghill chickens of the orient --old countryside Japan--get their name from their main source of feed! ) CJR

And yes, all parasitic poultry mites are harmful, as they live on blood and make bird anemic.

#10306 - 06/29/06 06:24 AM Re: Are all mites harmful?
Rack Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 08/11/04
Posts: 384
Loc: Virginia
Do chickens get fleas?

#10307 - 06/29/06 10:20 AM Re: Are all mites harmful?
Smoky73 Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 01/14/05
Posts: 697
Loc: Colorado
I cant say that all small black bugs in my coop are mites.
I have always noticed that I have tiny little mite sized black bugs that seem to live in the wood of the coop. Now, my coop was all built with really old barn wood that was in the barn in a big pile when we bought the place. I see these bugs all over the coop, not just where the birds are, such as on the door that we go in through, and the storage area where we do not keep the chickens. It is a possibility that these bugs you see may not be mites at all, but I would check your birds and dust them if they are. The mites I have seen on my birds are kinds roundish looking, and kinda reddish black...from the blood they feed on. Lice you cannot miss..they are like a whitish tan color and considerably larger than mites.
Cara Smith


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