Red Mite – Another Way To Deal With It by Don Curry UK

For a number of years I ran my own business as a Pest Controller. I originally went to college and passed my certification in Pest Control. Among other work I did a lot of treating premises for cat fleas; notice that this is pest control as except for in isolated situations on islands, pest elimination is only temporary. Blood sucking pests are always likely to re-infest, that is why the accepted term is pest control.

Many times I did work with bird nest pests situated in lofts. These insects have evolved two main ways of perpetuation. When the current year birds leave the nest the insects that are left behind can go into a kind of suspended animation and can remain in this state until the next breeding season. Un-hatched insect eggs are also able to do this. On return of the birds they can then reawaken and start. the cycle once again, cat fleas can also do time and time again.

I was called to premises where people had been on holiday and as soon as they walked indoors the fleas had hatched and had a blood feed on the humans, mainly attacking the ankle area. It occurred to me that red mite could also fall into this pattern. I began to ask myself what were the main conditions in bird nests and the main condition is an acidic one with the bird droppings of chicks as the main source. Could this be why some wild birds are seen to remove excreta sacs from the nest?

With this in mind I decided to put lime in the nest boxes to create alkaline conditions because I assumed that Red Mite had evolved over thousands of generations to live in an acidic situation and lime may help. I also knew that the flights could have Red Mite in the bedding on the floor so I also limed the flight floors. I knew that this would not be an overnight solution.

When the flight floors and the nest boxes are cleaned I again add the lime, a couple of spoonfuls per nest and a few handfuls on the flight floors. After two years of this treatment I never see any Red Mite at all, just using lime and no other treatment. I had previously tried most anti-mite systems with only partial success. The lime I use is either granulated or powdered lime that is used on the allotment and costs about £10 for 20kgs.

Warning. Never use Quick Lime as it is dangerous when dampened but however is seldom offered for sale.

Editors note

Red Mite 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 aviaries. Young birds are most susceptible. The mites can also affect the health of the birds indirectly, as they may serve as vectors for some diseases.

 

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Terry Tuxford About the Author:

Terry Tuxford first began breeding budgerigars in 1979 and joined the BS in 1980. He was elevated to Champion in 1985 when he went into partnership with Brian Poole. This partnership is probably one of the longest existing partnerships in the UK hobby today having lasted some 27 years so far and is still going strong. Terry and Brian are also partnered by Yvonne Tuxford who joined the BS in 1990.


Terry demonstrated his penmanship early in his budgerigar career and wrote in the second edition of Budgerigar World. Little did he realise then that in just over 8 year’s time he would become editor following a 20 month apprenticeship with founding editor, Gerald Binks. Terry went on to edit a total of 245 editions up to May 2011.


In 1993 Terry took his Budgerigar Society Judges final examination and was awarded Subsidiary Judge of the Year and has gone on to judge the Budgerigar Society World Show on three occasions as well as many top shows at home and abroad. He is also an accomplished speaker and has been a guest at societies throughout the UK as well as Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and many other European countries.

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