Poultry red mite
Poultry red mites are very small creatures, measuring up to 0.75 mm, which have 6 legs as larvae and 8 as adults. They are part of the arachnid class.
Poultry red mites usually start as eggs, then go on to become larvae before going through various nymph stages and then finally becoming adults. Special survival forms can also develop, which can withstand unfavourable conditions for a very long time. If the living conditions are ideal, this usually leads to mass reproduction. They can hibernate in sheltered bird nests.
Poultry red mites are temporary ectoparasites and live primarily off the blood of different types of bird.
The fasting creatures are almost white but after a blood meal, they turn red to almost black depending on the degree of digestion of the blood.
After a blood meal, female Dermanyssus gallinae can fast for an extended period of time. If it is lacking nutrition, the poultry red mite can also resort to other hosts, such as other mammals and humans.
Taking blood from mammals allows the mites to survive; however, they are reliant on birds as hosts for reproduction.
Poultry red mites can be found around poultry, impair the fattening capacity and laying performance by drawing blood, and can act as vectors for poultry diseases. In Europe, they are therefore the main ectoparasites of poultry.
If they go without food for extended periods of time, they also affect mammals and humans, and leave extremely itchy bites.
When people are affected, this often as a result of pigeons and abandoned pigeon nests in roof structures, for example, from which the poultry red mites get into dwellings. Unlike the itch mite (Sarcoptes scabiei), poultry red mites do not pierce human skin, which means that you can easily remove them from your skin by washing or showering them off.