Finding mites in the poultry bedding

I'm going to start by saying that I don't actually know if they are wood mites...that's just what I was told and it certainly looks like it from the pictures online. They don't look like the chicken mites I've had the misery of knowing, but thankfully I've only dealt with the Red Mites and only once. 

These bugs do look like some of the poultry mites I've seen in pictures though, so they very well could be. Read on to see why it's so confusing!

mites in chicken coop

Mites in the poultry coop bedding

This story starts a few weeks back. I reached into the nest boxes in the silkie house and noticed there were these little bugs on the eggs. Tiny little brown things. Gross, right? Just a few, but I checked every bird every where and nothing. 

So I decided to empty the nest box bedding into the fire pit. More on this here: 6 Ways to Dispose of Coop Litter. I wiped them out, put a layer of DE in and more wood shavings and called it done. Days went by without another sighting, admittedly I kept checking the birds not the bedding.

A few days later somebody stops by to buy some keets. The conversation went like this:
Lady to husband: Look, she uses XXX brand of wood shavings!
Me: What do you use?
Lady: He thinks they have some type of wood bug in them, we had a problem twice when using them in our coops. We use straw now.
Me: Oh, I've been using them for years. (never once thinking of those little bugs!)

Sheer coincidence that this was power washing day in the silkie coop! Hours later this conversation plays out in my head as I move the silkies to a temporary nesting area so I can wash their nest boxes. I decided to run my hands through the bedding and I come out with several bugs. Gross! However, I am power washing and they are still not on the birds. 

I burn the nest box bedding, shake some DE on the birds, wipe off the eggs and call it clean. I can't for the life of me imagine the bugs living through power washing. I refilled the coop with XXX brand wood shavings. It's all I had and quite frankly I wasn't sure it could be the problem and I have been using them for over 3 years! I did however pick up a bag of a different brand of wood shavings when I was at my feed supply place later that week. Unfortunately the bag was damp inside so I couldn't use it right away.

Once again a few days later I decide to check for bugs and pull the nest boxes out and pull out the bedding inside and behind them. This dear readers, is where I bravely held still while these things crawled all over my arm so that I could take the picture above for you. You owe me one! Gross, gross gross! 

I just didn't know what they are at that point. They're too small to be bed bugs, even though seem to have the same M.O. They're still not on the birds though *sigh* and they're so tiny I can't get a good enough look at them to see what they are. I have no choice but to clean it all out again.

Getting rid of  poultry mites

I have to do the whole thorough cleaning thing once again! Every bit of shavings comes out of the coop and into the fire pit. The whole thing gets swept out and Sevin dust sprinkled into corners of the coop. A light dusting of Sevin is put down in each nest box filled with the different brand of shavings mixed with DE. The broody's are all dusted with DE before being allowed back in. Problem solved. I check several times in the next few more bugs. 

Now here's where I'm going to break the whole thing down for you:  
  • I use wood shavings in the 3 smallest of the 5 coops....the bigger ones get hay or straw. Only the Silkies have these bugs. Only in the nest boxes, they're not all over the coop.
  • Only the Silkie coop currently has broody's in the nest boxes.
  • The baby cages use these same shavings from the same bags. They do not have bugs in them. I have moved babies to the baby cages from the Silkie house they have not carried bugs with them. 
  • The Guineas often go into the Silkie house to eat the food. They do not have bugs on them or in their coop.
  • The Silkie chicks move into the grow out pen when they're big enough. That coop does not have bugs.
  • Not 1 bird on this whole farm has bugs on them...only in the nest box bedding of that 1 coop. Weird, right?
  • Remember how my bag of other brand shavings was slightly damp? It still hadn't dried out completely so I could only put a small amount down in the coop. A few days later after running my hands through the bag of XXX brand shavings again and again, I decide there are no bugs and finish filling the coop with the XXX shavings. Its days later and still no bugs. 
If I knew for sure it was XXX brand I would totally call them out for you....I don't know that, so they shall remain nameless. I've used that brand for years and never had a problem. I imagine it could be an isolated incidence. If it is some type of wood bug, then I'm sure some infected wood could get through once. It could probably happen to any company though.

Since the mites weren't in the bag of shavings when I checked it, I don't know where the mites came from, really. I do know that they are gone now! 

We burned the shavings instead of composting or dumping them in the woods. I post about bedding disposal methods here...but for this situation the only correct method is for the bedding to be burned or double bagged and thrown into the garbage. You wouldn't want wild birds or even your own chickens bringing the bugs back to the coop! 

I have checked the chickens for mites again and again and yet again and found nothing. I've dug through the bedding, I've looked with a magnifying glass. Nothing. It appears to be an isolated incidence . My theory is that no matter how they got here, the DE simply wasn't enough to kill them off the first time and some did get through and reproduced. 

The Sevin took care of them the second time. The DE works great but it works slower and is milder. I just needed something a little stronger for these guys and now that we're free of them we can go back to just DE as a preventative. Seems to me that the problem is solved and hopefully it will stay that way!

These bugs was much more difficult to get rid of than the time I found bugs in the chicken feed, but thankfully both sets of critters are gone now!


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  1. Well done for persevering - hope it is solved for good.

    1. Thanks! I haven't seen them since. *fingers crossed*