Dermanyssus gallinae

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Dermanyssus gallinae (click on image to enlarge it)
Author(s): Luis Fernández García
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Dermanyssus gallinae (De Geer, 1778) - (chicken mite)

The mite is an important, wide-spread, blood-feeding ectoparasite of domestic fowl which causes skin irritations, anemia, weight loss and even death at high infestations. It may also bite mammals, including humans and cause dermatitis. The mite has been shown to harbour various bacterial and viral diseases and can transmit several of them.

It is mainly a problem in caged laying hens which are normally kept for about a year. Infestation rates often exceed 50% of the farms in a country. Mite populations often increase to 50,000 per bird and might even reach 500,000 per bird at high densities.

Vernacular names
• Deutsch: Vogelmilbe
rote Geflügelmilbe
• English: chicken mite
poultry red mite
• Español: ácaro de los gallineros
• Français: dermanysse des volailles

The mite is usually active during the night, feeding for about an hour and hides in cracks and crevices during the day. Feeding is repeated every 2-4 days and mites can survive for up to 9 months without a host. Larvae do not feed. Once established on a farm, the mite is nearly impossible to eradicate. Management relies on acaricides and pesticide resistant populations are common. In some countries, inert desiccant dusts (e.g. diatomaceous earth or silica products) are used for control.

The adult mites are about 800 µm long and become red after feeding. Development of the nymphs is completed in 1-2 weeks and the life of an adult lasts about 6 weeks.

For a review see George et al., 2015.