No one wants to find mites on their chickens or in their coop. Mites are horrible little pests that can be problematic to get rid of.
Even worse, no one wants to find mites living on themselves! Either spotting one in your clothing, in your hair, or getting bitten - it’s all terrifying.
The good news is that most types of chicken mites can’t live on humans for long.
The reason they are chicken mites is that they need to feed off of chicken blood, skin, or feathers depending on the mite.
This doesn’t mean they will not jump on you and try though. Here’s a look at what chicken mites are, how to get rid of them, and the risks they pose to you.
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What Type of Mites Infest Backyard Chickens?
First of all, you need to try and identify what type of mite you’re dealing with if you’re concerned about your health.
Which isn’t easy, as mites are very small and there are loads of possible species of mite that can infest chickens.
According to the University of Kentucky entomology department, there are two main species of mite that are most likely to be found on backyard chickens, these are:
Chicken Mite (also called red mite or roost mite)
Red mites, roost mites, chicken mites, whatever you call then, these little mites can be incredibly problematic.
They are difficult to deal with because they typically live in the nooks and crannies of a chicken coop, and come out at night to feed off the blood of chickens.
Red mites are only about 1mm in size. They’re easier to spot at night by wiping the inside of a coop when they’re full of blood. You’ll see red stains on a white cloth for sure if they’re present.
These mites will bite humans too given the chance. They don’t cause much more than a red mark, but it’s not pleasant to find these little critters on you.
Related - How to get rid of red mite in your coop.
Northern Fowl Mite
The Northern Fowl Mite is one of the most common mites found across the U.S., and one of the most common ectoparasites of chickens and other birds.
They spend their lives living on a chicken, and will usually live within their feathers where they can get a good grip and travel down to their skin to feed off their blood.
It’s estimated a serious infestation can cause chickens to lose up to 6% of their blood each day, and obviously cause some serious discomfort.
They are usually around just 1 mm long, so they’re tough to spot from a distance. If you get up close and part your chicken’s feathers you’ll see what looks like lots of black dots.
Northern Fowl mites are a lot less likely to bite and try to live on you than red mites.
Can Chicken Mites Live on Humans?
The Northern Fowl mite is not believed to be interested in living on human hosts and will die within a day or so of trying to do so.
I’ve read some articles that chicken mites, on the other hand, can live on humans a lot longer. It’s still unlikely though, and they can’t stay alive off human blood.
There isn’t a lot of scientific studies and information that I could find to back this up. Healthline points out that it’s easy to get poultry mites mixed up with other mites, such as bed bugs.
Most people probably see mites on their chickens, then see mites in their home, and assume they are the same species. When in reality, it’s more likely that the mites on you or in your home are a different species.
What Does a Mite Bite Look Like on a Human?
Chicken mite bites are similar to the bites you’d get from other small mites and insects.
For most people, it looks like a little red dot or a small bump. Everyone reacts differently to mite bites, the sensation will range from a slight itching to severe irritation.
The bite itself is harmless. There are no diseases that can be passed from mites to humans. In some rare instances, some people experience a secondary infection due to bacteria getting under the skin.
This is the same as with any bite or injury that breaks the skin. Make sure you clean the area and keep it protected while healing to avoid further infection.
Chicken Mites on Humans Treatment
If you think you’re being bitten by bird or chicken mites, it’s advisable you see a doctor to be sure it is actually a mite bite and not something more serious.
They will be able to advise you of the best course of treatment for you. Which will most likely be an anti-itch or antihistamine cream to soothe the itching and accelerate the healing process.
You should also take some steps to repel mites in your home. I will cover some of the most effective ways to do that below:
How Do I Get Rid of Chicken Mites in My House?
If mites are getting on you, they’re probably in your home too. To get rid of mites in your home, the most effective steps are:
- Vacuuming thoroughly everywhere
- Washing any clothing, bedding, etc that you think might be infested on a hot wash
- Being more mindful about transferring mites from your coop or chickens to your home
Chicken mites require the blood of chickens to stay alive, so once you’ve had a good clean up they should stop bothering you pretty soon.
It’s more important to treat your flock and get rid of the mites where they can multiply and flourish. As well as making sure you’re not bringing them into your home.
How to Get Rid of Chicken Mites in Your Flock
There are a few ways to get rid of mites. I’ll say off the top that I prefer using products and treatments that are natural over harsh chemicals.
Not least because I’ve always found natural remedies to be just as effective. But, obviously because with chickens and other pets in my household I don’t want to take any chances of harming them.
With that said, the most effective natural chicken mite treatments are:
I’m a huge fan of diatomaceous earth. As long as you’re using food grade DE (see below) you can apply it directly onto your chickens, all over their bedding, around their coop - anywhere you think mites might be hiding.
Neem oil is a great non-toxic pesticide that can be used all around the yard to get rid of pests and parasites.
It’s also safe for use on and around chickens to kill mites. Mix 1 tablespoon of Neem oil with 2 liters of water and spray liberally.
One of the oldest home remedies I’m always hearing backyard chicken owners talk about is using garlic juice for chicken mites.
Garlic is a strong antifungal and anti-parasitic herb that is known to kill most mites. Crush up a head of garlic, mix it with around 2 cups of water, leave for a day and you’re good to go.
Related - learn more about using garlic juice for chicken mites here.
The good news is; chicken mites would much rather be on your chickens than you. In fact, they can only live off the blood of chickens, they can’t stay alive on human hosts.
So, if you’re finding mites on you and around your home, there is a good chance it’s not chicken lice. You should try and bottle and couple to show a pest control company for identification.
Either way, I’ve given you some of the best methods and products to help rid your flock, home, and you of chicken mites. Good luck!
Image credits - Photos by LOGAN WEAVER, Erik Hansman, and Dan Gold on Unsplash