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Mite Infestation

Mites are very small (just visible without magnification) and may look like dark, moving specks. Like lice, mites are wingless, but are smaller than lice, and generally have a rounded body shape and lack any obvious body segmentation. Mites can parasitize many animal species, and have been known to bite humans, horses, and other mammals.

Some species of mites may spend their entire life on a single bird, while others may only come out at night to feed on the birds while they roost, then retreat to nearby cracks and crevices in the surrounding environment during the daytime.

The most common mites found on chickens are:

Clinical Signs

Increased preening
Frequent scratching/irritation
Change in nightly perch location
Suddenly not wanting to go into the coop
Hens not laying eggs in nestboxes


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Skin scraping


Fluralaner (trade name Exzolt)Added to the flock's drinking water. The product is administered twice, 7 days apart so it treats two mite life cycles. There is no egg withdrawal period and trials show it to be 99% effective at killing mites.N Hinkle, et al 2018; A Prohaczik et al., 2017; B Mullens et al., 2017
Spinosad (Trade name Elector PSP)Applied as a spray on all coop housing components.B Mullens et al., 2017; A Murillo et al., 2017; Dow AgroSciences 2001
PyrethrumApplied as a powder or a spray on both the chickens as well as all housing components. Bedding and nesting materials should be replaced. When treating the bird, apply directly on the chicken's feathers, concentrating on the vent area. Note that it only kills the adult insects, not the larvae and eggs. Therefore, treatment will need to be repeated in 2 weeks.G Damerow
PermethrinApplied as a powder (0.24% permethrin) or spray (3 ounces of 10% permethrin is mixed in a 5 gallon bucket of water), directly on the chickens as well as all housing components. Replace bedding and nesting material.G Damerow
SulfurApplied as a dust directly on the chickens or added to their dust bathing areaA Murillo et al., 2016
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) (food grade)Apply by dusting onto the chicken's feathers or added to their dust bathing area. Also dust all housing components. Replace bedding and nesting material.A Murillo et al., 2016; C Martin et al., 2012; D Bennett et al., 2011, G Damerow
MalathionUsed as a spray or powder applied to all housing components in coop.G Damerow
Thyme essential oilApplied as a spray directly on the mitesT Smith et al., 2017; F Masoumi et al., 2016; D George et al., 2010; IS Nechita et al., 2015; A.M Quilicot et al., 2020
Hemp essential oilApplied as a spray directly on the mitesMA Tabari et al., 2020
Ajowan essential oilApplied as a spray directly on the mitesAI Baran et al., 2020
Garlic extract or essential oils10% garlic solution diluted with water, sprayed on the chicken's vent and abdomen, once every 7 days for 3 weeks.Birrenkott, G. P., et al., 2000; A.M Quilicot et al., 2020
Syzygium aromaticum essential oilApplied as a spray directly on the mites.MA Tabari et al., 2020



  • Remove and replace nesting material and bedding regularly. Change at least once a month.
  • Relocate/remove wild bird nests, which attract tropical fowl mites, and other pests.
  • Quarantine new flock members before introducing them into your flock.
  • Don’t trim beaks. It interferes with a chicken’s ability to self-groom.
  • Control rodent populations, as they can sometimes be carriers of mites and ticks.
  • Discourage wild birds by removing bird feeders and bird baths.
  • Thoroughly clean any branches, wood stumps, or other tree-sourced items containing bark.
  • Avoid coops built from rough sawn, unfinished timbers, especially tongue and groove styled.
  • Provide your flock with an appropriate area to dustbath.

Scientific References

Risk Factors

  • Wild birds living on the premises, especially constructing nests near chicken coops.
  • Rodents