Bird Mites in Australia

Bird mites belong to a group of arthropods, which are morphologically very similar in appearance, yet have very different habits and ecologies.

Failure to properly identify the mites to the species level can lead to incorrect treatments and non-control of the pest.

“Bird mites”, “Tropical fowl mites” or “Starling Mites” are the common names used to describe the mite Ornithonyssus bursa from the family of mites Macronyssidae. These mites are often incorrectly called ‘bird lice’, particularly within the pest control industry. Bird mites are most active during Spring and early Summer.

  • Red poultry mite

    Red poultry mite
    (Dermanysuss gallinae)


    • Compared to other poultry ectoparasites such as fowl ticks, lice and flies, mites are considered to be the most destructive ones
    • Can severely affect a layer operation, birds become stressed and the impact on egg production and feed conversion is substantial
    • Turns from grey to red or dark red in colour after being engorged with blood
    • Able to survive long periods of time in the surroundings without being on the host bird and without even having a single meal of blood
  • Northern fowl mite

    Northern fowl mite
    (Ornithonyssus sylviarum)


    • Infests a wide range of domestic fowl and wild birds and is the most important and common external parasite of poultry
    • Heavy mite infestations can irritate and stress the birds, reducing egg production by 10 to 15 percent
    • Mites congregate first on the vent, then on the tail, back and legs female birds; they are more scattered on male birds
    • The northern fowl mite completes its entire life cycle on the bird