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Poultry Red Mite

About Poultry Red Mite

Poultry red mite (PRM) is a blood-feeding parasite that has considerable welfare and production implications for both commercial laying hens and backyard flocks.

The mites live “off host” in the cracks and crevices of the poultry house, emerging in darkness to feed upon hens.  Red mites are related to ticks and almost all life stages of the mite are blood-feeding.  Adult females will feed every 3 to 4 days in order to produce, on average, 30 eggs in their lifetime.  In ideal conditions, red mite can develop from an egg to a sexually mature adult in just 7 days.  With such an efficient lifecycle, mite numbers in poultry houses can be massive; in severe infestations, numbers can range between 200,000 and 500,000 mites per hen! Given the large blood requirement of an individual mite and their population numbers, the health and welfare implications for laying hens can be severe.

Key Points

    • Poultry red mite (PRM) is the predominant ectoparasite of laying hens across the world
    • Infestations can occur in every sort of housing system and affects commercial egg producers and backyard flocks
    • PRM infestation leads to reduced hen welfare
    • Mites feed at night causing irritation, leading to restlessness and stress behaviours such as increased aggression, pecking and cannibalism
    • PRM is involved in disease transmission in a range of both viral and bacterial diseases
    • PRM is a health hazard to humans causing mite dermatitis and may have the potential to transmit a variety of zoonotic diseases
    • PRM infestation leads to production losses such as downgraded eggs
    • Biosecurity is important in preventing PRM spread both between farms and within farms
    • Monitoring PRM populations is key to efficient control
    • Integrated pest management (IPM) has the potential to lead to sustainable and efficient PRM control
    • Studies have shown that early intervention with treatments is more effective at suppressing PRM populations that waiting for mite populations to reach damaging levels
    • Rotating pest control treatments is important to prevent resistance developing in PRM and other arthropod pests

Research at Moredun

Current interests and future aims:

Further Information

Members of our poultry red mite research team interact with the UK’s largest poultry-devoted veterinary practice St. David’s Poultry Group and with local, national and international egg producers through direct visits, meetings, presentations and through the British Egg Industry Council and the British Egg Marketing Board Trust.

Our scientists regularly give talks and Moredun events and roadshows.  Please see our events page for any forthcoming activities in this area or if you would like to arrange a speaker for an event please contact The Moredun Communications Team.

Our scientists are also members of the EU COST Action FA1404 “COREMI” which promotes the improved understanding and research for sustainable control of the poultry red mite through co-operation and multidisciplinary networking between scientists and other stakeholders from different member states and from different disciplines. For more information visit:

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Our Experts

Alasdair Nisbet


Dan Price


Kathryn Bartley


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