Adult mites are about 0.8 mm long and 0.4 mm wide. The colour can vary from grey to white but they often appear to be red, depending upon their blood content. Engorged adults are about 1 mm long. Red mites feed on the host bird at night for up to 2 hours before returning to the cracks and crevices that they inhabit. High numbers can not only decrease the value and number of eggs etc., they can also cause birds to become anaemic and in severe cases, the birds can die.
The females lay their eggs after a blood feed- hatching into 6 legged larvae after 3 days and an 8 legged nymphal stage which takes a further 4-5 days.
Mite control is a major challenge as they can survive many months without a feed, are difficult to treat with the poultry present and will survive cleaning and disinfectants. Ideally the poultry sheds need to be thoroughly cleaned when empty and a residual insecticide applied which has been approved for use in this area. If treatment is needed whilst birds are present, use of desiccant products, such as pesticide-free desiccant sprays can be used (ensure the birds are not sprayed and always read the label).