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Red mite - maybe a solution!!
#1
As the weather is warming up, and redmite will be able to breed faster again I though I would post this as it may be helpful to others.

I have had an on-off battle with redmite for a few years now, trying a variety of chemicals which each helped for a while but resistance soon developed, and I've had times with pretty nasty infestations.

If you have never had redmite then you are lucky - or possibly just not realised they are there yet! Try going to your coop about an hour after the birds have gone to roost, and then wiping under the perches the birds are on with some tissue paper - you may then see blood smears or mites crawling on the paper (the blood is from squashed mites that have just fed on the birds).

Although I have given up hope of ever eradicating the mites completely (I think they are also in the trees overhanging my run), I have developed tom techniques which don't have problems with resistance, and can keep control of numbers at least. In fact since my last intervention last autumn I haven't seen ANY mites (though I'm sure they will reappear before long).

Method 1 - burning sulphur

This was suggested to me by my father a couple of years or so ago. Burning sulphur has been used for sterilizing things for centuries from greenhouses to wine barrels - it releases sulphur dioxide as it burns (as well as other sulphur oxides) which combines with water to form sulphurous acid. This effectively turns the blood of the mites in the coop to acid and kills them. the gas gets into lots of nooks and crannies and can kill where it is hard or impossible to get other insecticides to penetrate. DON'T do this with a wet coop (i.e. don't wash it out 1st!).
I bought some "flowers of sulphur" (sulphur powder) - this is cheap and available from horsey shops selling horse feed/tack/etc, as well as online. I then placed about 1Kg of this in a metal paint kettle (about as wide as high) which was placed on a heatproof tile on the coop floor with the tile raised on a few pebbles. I then lit the sulphur (easiest with a bloworch or similar) and quickly shut up the coop having blocked up all the ventilation holes etc, and then sealed any gaps as well as I could. There was still lots of cracks etc which smoke/fumes drifted out of. It burnt for several hours and I then ventilated it for several hours before sweeping up the dead mites (lots) and letting the birds back. If you use this method make sure there is enough height above the sulphur (it burns with a low flame and will melt down into the bottom of the tin, you don't want to burn down your coop! Also drifting fumes are pretty noxious so keep animals and people away, nearby plants may be damaged too (a nearby sapling lost lots of its leaves), don't breath the fumes. Perhaps worth repeating after a week.
I did notice lots of mites crawling out through cracks/joints and crawling on the outside of the coop so creosoting the outside 1st may help or lightly blowtorching the outside at intervals will also kill escaping mites.



Method 2 - heat

Despite method 1 vastly reducing mite numbers I didn't eradicate them so tried something different. I got a "boiling ring" - a propane gas powered cooking burner putting out about 8KW, put this in the coop with a steel plate over it to spread the heat, and leaving enough ventilation to give the flame enough oxygen closed up the coop and heated the whole coop to about 60-70C as measured by a non-contact infrared thermometer (quite cheap on amazon and useful for other things like checking the temperature of incubating eggs), kept it at this sort of temperature for about an hour or so so the heat soaked into all the crevices, and then let it cool. Lots of dead mites again and they similarly tried to escape to the outside of the coop (most still died as the outside got too hot for them too).
There are obvious risks to this of burning your coop and you should take great care - I regularly checked internal surface temperatures. I'd keep a hosepipe handy! Your coop also needs to be made of materials that will withstand the heat - mine is wood.
Not seen any mites since bust as I said, I'm sure they will be back at some point soon.


Please be very careful if you try either of these methods, remember the sulphur fumes are very toxic and think of nearby plants, people, animals, neighbours etc. Don't burn your coop down either! Try either of these methods at your own risk!
Never forget that life is a finite resource.

Experience is something you gain just after you needed it most.
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#2
Very interesting Sutty. I still find creosote the best 'cure'.
I never make the same mistake twice. I do it at least five or six times, just to make sure !

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#3
Interesting post Sutty,  I wonder if smoke bombs they sell would have the same effect too. ?
CHUCKLERS RULE THE ROOST - Dave. Zen Seeker of The Board. rabbit run
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#4
Very interesting post Sutty. I gave up on wooden coops a couple of years ago, and bought a plastic one. Last year was a good year and there were few mites, if any - but I don't expect this to last. How do you think the plastic will cope with the heat? It's one of the coops from Solway - the one that looks like an Anderson shelter!! I was dubious at first, but loving it now.
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#5
I don't think a plastic coop would withstand the heat.
I got redmite in the plastic screw-up legs of a brinsea brooder, so plastic can still get infested.

I don't think a plastic coop would withstand the heat. Redmite die at about 45C, so the whole structure needs to be at that temperature for a while, you always get hotter areas though.

I got redmite in the plastic screw-up legs of a brinsea brooder, so plastic can still get infested.

The smoke bombs are permethrin usually, the fireworks effect is just a way of distributing the permethrin. I didn't find they had much effect.
Never forget that life is a finite resource.

Experience is something you gain just after you needed it most.
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  • scotsfran, zenith
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#6
I use sulphur candles in the greenhouse and it nukes most things ... but you have to ventilate it well before going back in so it would be OK for and empty house I'd say sutty so you can clean it all out afterwards.

Back in the day when my dad bred canaries we use to wash all the cages out with a bit of jeyes in warm water and then paint the inside with emulsion ( cheapest you can find) with duramitex added, that seemed to work OK
ntg


Warwickshire

The view is much better from the naughty step ... Cool
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#7
(31-03-2019, 04:30 PM)Nick the Grief Wrote: I use sulphur candles in the greenhouse  and it nukes most things ... but you have to ventilate it well before going back in so it would be OK for and empty house I'd say sutty  so you can clean it all out afterwards.

Back in the day when my dad bred canaries we use to wash all the cages out with a bit of jeyes in warm water and then paint the inside with emulsion ( cheapest you can find) with duramitex added, that seemed to work OK

Duramitex  was really good stuff, I used it when I bred budgies and parrot type birds . There must still be a similar product on the market for the use in pigeon lofts.
CHUCKLERS RULE THE ROOST - Dave. Zen Seeker of The Board. rabbit run
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#8
(31-03-2019, 04:30 PM)Nick the Grief Wrote: I use sulphur candles in the greenhouse  and it nukes most things ... but you have to ventilate it well before going back in so it would be OK for and empty house I'd say sutty  so you can clean it all out afterwards.

Back in the day when my dad bred canaries we use to wash all the cages out with a bit of jeyes in warm water and then paint the inside with emulsion ( cheapest you can find) with duramitex added, that seemed to work OK

Does need ventilating well for a few hours before letting birds back in.
Never forget that life is a finite resource.

Experience is something you gain just after you needed it most.
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