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Dermanyssus gallinae (also known as the red mite, poultry mite, red poultry mite, roost mite and chicken mite) is an ectoparasite of poultry and other bird species.

Dermanyssus gallinae
Dermanyssus gallinae mite.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Subclass: Acari
Order: Mesostigmata
Family: Dermanyssidae
Genus: Dermanyssus
Species: D. gallinae
Binomial name
Dermanyssus gallinae
(De Geer, 1778)
Dermanyssus gallinae
Classification and external resources
Specialty infectious disease
ICD-10 B88.0 (ILDS B88.060)
Female Dermanyssus gallinae de Geer with "stiletto-shaped mandibles" by A.C. Oudemans
Male Dermanyssus gallinae de Geer by A.C. Oudemans



The mites are blood feeders and attack resting birds at night. They are generally white or greyish in colour, becoming darker or redder when engorged with blood. After feeding, they hide in cracks and crevices away from daylight, where they mate and lay eggs. The mite progresses through 5 life stages: egg, larva, protonymph, deutonymph and adult. Under favourable conditions this life cycle can be completed within seven days, so populations can grow rapidly - causing anaemia in badly affected flocks of poultry. Young birds are most susceptible. The mites can also affect the health of the birds indirectly, as they may serve as vectors for diseases such as Salmonellosis, avian spirochaetosis and Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae.[1]

Clinical signs and diagnosisEdit

The mites normally feed around the breast and legs of hens, causing pain, irritation, and a decrease in egg production. Pustules, scabs, hyperpigmentation and feather loss may develop.

If they are present in large numbers, D. gallinae can cause anemia in hens which presents as pallor of the comb and wattle.

A presumptive diagnosis can be made in flocks of laying hens, usually based on a history of decreasing egg production, anaemia and mortalities in young or ill birds. Blood spots on eggs indicate infestation within the cloaca of an affected hen. Definitive diagnosis is only achieved following identification of eggs, feces or the mites themselves.

Treatment and preventionEdit

Predatory mites and ectoparasiticides can be used to treat affected poultry. Predatory mites are sold and distributed internationally and throughout the United States as an effective solution. Amblyseius andersoni is an effective predatory mite for target pests including red mites. For ectoparasiticides, these chemical controls, if used, should be used in rotation to avoid the buildup of resistance. Red mites can survive for up to 10 months in an empty hen house. Creosote treatment of wood will kill mites[citation needed]. Prevention of infestation in a human habitation consists of eliminating vectors (pigeons in eaves, infested backyard poultry, etc.). Elimination of an infestation in a human habitation is best achieved through a combination of eliminating potential vectors (nesting pigeons, backyard poultry, etc.); reducing potential hiding places (rugs, clutter); judicious use of pesticides; consistent use of dehumidifiers to maintain a low humidity environment; maintaining a low temperature in the environment; frequent thorough cleaning; minimizing the amount of time spent in the home; and maintaining excellent hygiene and exercise habits. Treatment of infestation may require topical and oral medication such as ivermectin and may require several months to eradicate.

Disease in other animals and humansEdit

Dermanyssus gallinae will also bite mammals, including cats, dogs, rodents, rabbits, horses,[2] and humans, where the infestation is known as gamasoidosis.[3] As they are capable of digesting human and mammal blood, infestations can be persistent.[2] As D. gallinae is a nocturnal feeder, people bitten by this mite commonly feel itchy when they wake up in the morning,[4] although the severity of the signs vary, with any one of pain, itch and rash occurring either individually or together.[3]

Jane Ishka recited her experience with human infestation in her book [5]

Infestation by D. gallinae is rare in cats and dogs; usually the extremities and the back are bitten, causing itching.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Chirico J, Eriksson H, Fossum O, Jansson D (June 2003). "The poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae, a potential vector of Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae causing erysipelas in hens". Medical and Veterinary Entomology. 17 (2): 232–4. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2915.2003.00428.x. PMID 12823843. 
  2. ^ a b George DR, Finn RD, Graham KM, Mul MF, Maurer V, Moro CV, Sparagano OA (March 2015). "Should the poultry red mite Dermanyssus gallinae be of wider concern for veterinary and medical science?". Parasites & Vectors. 8: 178. doi:10.1186/s13071-015-0768-7. PMC 4377040 . PMID 25884317. 
  3. ^ a b James WD, Berger T, Elston D (2015). "Parasitic infestations, stings and bites: Gamasoidosis". Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology (12 ed.). Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 446. ISBN 9780323319690. 
  4. ^ Kos L, Galbraith S (2011). "Infections and infestations". In Schachner LA, Hansen RC. Pediatric dermatology (4th ed.). St. Louis, Mo.: Mosby/Elsevier. pp. 1576–1578. ISBN 9780723436652. 
  5. ^ Ishka, Jane (2016-02-04). The Year of the Mite. Bitingduck Press. ISBN 9781938463433. 
  6. ^ Paterson S (2009). "Dermanyssus gallinae". Manual of skin diseases of the dog and cat (2nd ed.). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 118–119. ISBN 9781444309324. 

External linksEdit