Do red mites die from below-freezing temperatures in the chicken coop in winter?
Red mites (also called poultry mite) are tenacious parasites and cause considerable irritation among chicken keepers every summer. Luckily, the end of summer also means a partial end to this problem, leading to the question among many poultry farmers whether all red mites die due to freezing temperatures in the chicken coop. To be clear, the short answer to this question is “no”. Read this article to find out why.
Why red mites don’t die in freezing temperatures
As stated above, not all red mites freeze to death in the chicken coop. This is because the red mite population is split among different stages: eggs, young red mites and adult red mites. While adult red mites die in freezing temperatures, young mites and eggs can survive such temperatures and stay present in the chicken coop. Eggs can withstand temperatures below 0° C and will wait to hatch until temperatures are rising again. Young mites can also survive the winter. They achieve this by going into a type of hibernation (a dormant state).
At what temperature do red mites “reawaken”?
Red mites “reawaken” when temperatures rise above 5° C, which is when they’re also able to lay new eggs. In contrast to what many chicken keepers think, problems with red mites start in winter and not in spring, since most of the eggs laid in winter wait to hatch until temperatures rise in spring. This explains why we often see large red mite outbreaks in warmer periods. At temperatures above 10° C, the development into larvae and adult mites commences. At temperature above 20° C, red mites produce eight eggs a day.
Should you continue to treat for red mites in winter?
Red mites are nearly impossible to reach with pesticides in winter because they’re hidden and don’t come out of their nests to drink blood. Nonetheless, there are a number of measures you can take to prevent the remaining eggs and red mites from causing an outbreak in warmer weather:
1 – Hang a test tube under the perch
Red mites are usually only noticed in the chicken coop once there are too many of them. To identify red mite at an earlier stage, simply place a Finecto red mite test tube under the chickens’ perch. Red mites always search for a place closest to the chickens to build their nest. They do this in a place where the chickens cannot reach them, otherwise they will eat them. By placing the Finecto test tube under the perch, this will be the first place the red mites will choose to build their nest. Inside the tube is a wooden stick that you can easily remove to check whether it has red mites on it. This allows you to identify whether there is a problem ahead of major outbreaks.
2 – Treat preventatively – also in winter
Because red mites are hidden away in winter and they rarely come out of their hiding place, it is advisable to protect the coop against red mites. As soon as the young red mites start moving towards the chickens to drink their first blood, they will be stopped by a layer of Finecto+ Protect spray in the coop. This layer remains effective for up to three to four weeks. Therefore, we advise spraying a new layer of Finecto+ Protect every three weeks on the routes the mites travel on from their nooks and crannies towards the perch. Don’t wait with spraying until spring, but continue spraying every three to four weeks all year round.
If you’re too late, the young mites will be able to drink the chickens’ blood, enabling them to lay more eggs, resulting in more red mites. The key is to prevent their reproduction cycle by halting the production of new eggs.
3 – Properly clean the chicken coop using a high-pressure cleaner in spring
A high-pressure cleaner is the only way to reach many of the hidden eggs. In winter, it is too cold to use a high-pressure cleaner, because the chicken coop won’t dry properly afterwards. Therefore, use the first available opportunity when the weather becomes warmer to properly clean the chicken coop with a high-pressure cleaner. Allow the coop to completely dry afterwards, and then spray the coop with a layer of Finecto+ Protect.
Part of the red mite population will die in the cold. However, eggs and young mite can survive the winter. They do so by hiding in nooks and crannies, preventing you from seeing them or reaching them with treatment products. Once temperatures rise above 5° C, the mites can start laying eggs. These eggs wait to hatch until temperatures are between 10° C and 12° C. This explains why after a period of warmer weather in spring, there can be a sudden outbreak of them. Keeping red mites in check is a year-round job. Don’t stop in winter.