Chicken Mites

Dermanyssus gallinae
Pest Stats
Color: Nearly white when unfed, bright red when recently fed, or gray to black with blood meal partially digested
Legs: 8
Shape: Oval, flattened from top to bottom, not hard-shelled
Size: 1/32” (0.75-1+ mm)
Antennae: No
Region: Found throughout U.S.

Chicken mites, also known as bird mites, get their common name because they live on the skin of a wide variety of birds, but especially chickens. They become structural pests when they migrate from bird nests into buildings and attack humans. They are found throughout the United States and worldwide.



Habits

Chicken mites feed primarily at night, after which the mite drops off of the host.



Habitat

Chicken mites most often live and feed on pigeons, sparrows, starlings and chickens. Chicken mites often migrate indoors from an abandoned nest. They enter through window frames or attics. Chicken mites can also be introduced via pet birds such as canaries or on gerbils from pet stores where an infestation has occurred.



Threats

Chicken mites have been implicated in the transmission of St. Louis encephalitis, but their role in the transmission of the disease is not known. Chicken mites can cause painful skin irritation on humans.