Further Reading

Parasites, Parasitic Mites, Dermanyssus gallinae; More Reference Papers and Books

Jane Ishka, Year of The Mite, 2016.

You can find the Year of The Mite on Amazon (paperback and Kindle), Apple iBooks,and Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook).

Olivier Sparagano, Ed. Control of Poultry Mites (Dermanyssus). Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

This collection of published scientific articles on Dermanyssus gallinae examines the phylogeny and control of the species, including acaricide susceptibility, potential as a disease vector, and preliminary work toward a vaccine. Other topics include the use of essential oils to combat the species, the evolution of pesticide resistance, and genetic variability within the species.

Walter, David and Proctor, Heather. Mites: Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. CABI. 1999.

This mite text describes the full range of these predators and parasites, across sea and land, and in virtually every tissue of living plants and animals. Included at page 238 is a discussion of the tendency for mites to choose some potential hosts over others within a flock or group.

Zimmer, Carl. Parasite Rex. Free Press: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York. 2000.

This vivid account of how parasites thrive on Earth includes an explanation of how humans were colonized by new parasites as we expanded our geographic range, and the means by which our immune systems fight parasites.

Specific Topic References

 Host Immunosuppression

Wikel, Stephen K. “Modulation of the Host Immune System by Ectoparasitic Arthropods.” BioScience (1999) 49 (4): 311-320.

This journal article explains how blood-feeding and tissue-dwelling arthropods manipulate host defenses to their advantage. Host immunosuppression improves the host environment for the parasite.

Wikel, Stephen K., and Alarcon-Caldez, Francisco. “Progress Toward Molecular Characterization of Ectoparasite Modulation of Host Immunity.” Veterinary Parasitology, Volume 101, Advances in Molecular Parasitology. 22 November 2001.

The authors explain how advances in understanding the mechanism by which arthropod parasites compromise host immune systems may lead to developments in vaccines.

Host Selection and Mite Distribution within a Flock

Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Pest Recommendations for Poultry, 2000.

This publication intended for farmers includes:

  • Information about mites choosing bird hosts that are sexually mature
  • A discussion of the importance of weekly monitoring.   Choose a representative sampling of birds from a hen house, due to the variability of mite susceptibility among birds. One bird in a house may be infested while others have no mites.

Zoonotic Infestation of Humans by Dermanyssus gallinae

George, David R., Finn, Robert D., Graham, Kirsty M., Mul, Monique F., Maurer, Veronika, Moro, Claire Valiente, and Sparagano, Olivier AE:

“Should the poultry red mite Dermanyssus gallinae be of wider concern for veterinary and medical science?”

Parasites & Vectors 2015, 8:178  doi:10.1186/s13071-015-0768-7

This significant review article is freely available online. It summarizes findings regarding the ability of D. gallinae to switch host species, the increasing numbers of attacks on humans, the diseases carried by D. gallinae, the challenge of host immunosuppression, and difficulties in diagnosis.

Coligros, H., Iglesias-Sancho, M., et al. “Dermanyssus gallinae: an underdiagnosed environmental infestation.” Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, Volume 38, June 2013.

This scientific journal article explores the difficulty of diagnosing an infestation of D. gallinae. The mite may not be seen on an office visit. Doctors should be informed that this infestation is possible even in an urban area. D. gallinae should be considered during diagnosis of skin conditions that do not respond to standard treatment.

 Infestation by Mites Inside the Human Body

Dini, Leigh A., and Frean, John A. “Clinical Significance of Mites in Urine.” Journal of Clinical Microbiology, December 2005, 43(12).

The authors describe a finding of a mite egg in a urine sample referred to the Parasitology Reference Unit of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. In addition, they survey other journal articles regarding findings of mites and mite eggs in urinary and gastrointestinal waste samples. They reference a study in China where 3.5% of urinary samples and 6.2% of stool samples included environmental mite eggs, larvae or adults.

Rong-Bo Zhang et al. “Diagnosis of intestinal acariasis with avidin-biotin system enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.” World Journal of Gastroenterology 2004 May 1; 10(9): 1369-1371.

This is one of several journal articles from China describing methods for ELISA detection of mites in feces, a more sophisticated method than those traditionally used in China.

Diseases Carried by Dermanyssus gallinae

Moro, C. Valiente, De Luna, C.J., et al., “The Poultry Red Mite (Dermanyssus gallinae): A Potential Vector of Pathogenic Agents.Experimental and Applied Acarology, Volume 48, Nos. 1-2, 93-104. 2009.

The poultry red mite Dermanyssus gallinae has been involved in the transmission of many pathogens responsible for serious illness in humans and other animals. As listed in the article, these include Encephalitis, Pasteurella, Salmonella, Listeria, and Spirochetes.

(Republished in Sparagano, Ed., Section A of this Reference List.)

See also George, David R., et al.,

“Should the poultry red mite Dermanyssus gallinae be of wider concern for veterinary and medical science?”

Listed in Section C of this reference list.

Pesticide Resistance

Marangi, M.A. Cafiero, et al. “Evaluation of the Poultry Red Mite, Dermanyssus gallinae, Susceptibility to Some Acaricides in Field Populations in Italy.” Experimental and Applied Acarology, Volume 48, Nos. 1-2, 11-18. 2008.

The authors found large differences in effectiveness among commonly used acaricides, with evidence of increasing resistance.

Republished in Sparagano, Ed., Section A of this Reference List.

Finding Additional References

An extensive literature exists on mites and acariasis. Additional articles can readily be found using the science search capability of the United States Government:


27 thoughts on “Further Reading

  1. Great- that’s about D Gallinae; poultry mites- what about other bird mites like the northern fowl mite? they LIVE on their host! HELP!!!!

    • Given that our veterinarian found mites on our chicken in the middle of the day (and the lab confirmed all life stages in the sample), I believe chicken mites do stay on the host in the day. Hope this information is useful to you.

      All the best,
      Jane Ishka

    • I’ve no personal experience with Northern Fowl Mites, but hope that some of the ideas on this site might be of help to you.
      Best of luck to you,
      Jane Ishka

    • Hello Leslie,

      I suspect D. gallinae live on their host as well as in the “cave” (house, coop, etc.) walls.
      Otherwise how would veterinarians be able to collect samples of D. gallinae from hens brought into their offices in the middle of the day?
      The veterinarian certainly got samples off our chickens during regular office hours.

      I don’t have specific experience with the Northern Fowl Mite, but hope that some of the information here is transferrable. For example, I believe all mites do better in a humid environment — so you may be helped by dehumidifiers (NOT humidifiers!).

      Best of luck to you,

  2. I also have a question, if possible your reply would be most welcome. We suspect we have these horrible little creatures. My partner has an infestation all over her body including the hair and scalp area. This was not directly addressed in your expertise of knowledge. Is this common and will the soap and essential oils work for that area? On a more personal level, she is experiencing an unwelcome advance on and in her vaginal area. Any advice? So many ppl claim that their doctors say they are crazy , we are reluctant to go to a physician and what type of dr should they be? Thank you so much.

    • Hello,

      The hair and scalp are favorite areas for mites. The old-fashioned remedy is tar shampoo, which is still sold as a dandruff shampoo. It is helpful to keep the hair very short and to wash it frequently. Adding a few drops of essential oils to a bottle of shampoo can be helpful as well.

      One way poultry growers can tell a hen is infested is by blood smudges on her eggs, the result of the passage of the egg squashing mites in the hen’s cloaca. There is no reason mites would respect the privacy of human females when they don’t respect the privacy of hens. Other than trimming hair in the area, I don’t know a good way to discourage mites from that particular part of the body. Please focus on the overall protocols including frequent washing of bed linens with detergent/borax/ammonia, as well as running a dehumidifier (NOT a humidifier) in the bedroom. If you have a bedroom carpet, replace with wood or tile if possible. Your fiancee would do well to swim in a chlorinated pool, every day if possible.

      Best of luck to you both.

    • Regarding the hair and scalp: Suggest your partner get a short haircut and then use the kind of dandruff shampoo that contains tar. This is an old-time remedy and seems to work fairly well. Nothing I’ve found works really quickly or efficiently, so perseverance is key.

      It is well known that mites are attracted to the cloaca of chickens, and one way farmers know their flocks are infested is the blood smudges on eggs from mites being killed in the cloaca as the egg passes through. So it is no surprise these bugs are attracted to the same area in a human. Suggest trimming the hair in the region and using talc (if the person is not allergic) to keep the area dry.

      Keep at it. Over time, if you persevere, you will kill them more quickly than they can reproduce. Remember to focus on the environment as well as the person as both are affected. Best of luck.

  3. How to dehumidify the car….I use charcoal bags. ContainerStore has them . They are grey bags…closet size and I use 2 of them. They will last one year.To activate or refresh them, place the car in the sun and make sure that these bags are in the sun for two hours. I forgot to take them back to the car and after two days I was getting bitten. It has been very helpful in drying them out. I am installing an Aprilaire dehumidifier in my two bedroom, two bath condo on Friday. It handles removing 95 pints of water over a 24 hour period.The company said that over a short time the walls and contents of the home will dry out so if water is used such as in cooking, showering,etc; the walls will immediately bring it back down to setting. Setting will be 35%-40% humidity. Humidifiers use less electric power than ac so overall you can turn up the ac and leave the humidifier fan and unit running constantly. And you will need to to kill the bird mites over time.Some say it takes several days but of course it varies according to how infested your home is. Hope this helps.

  4. Hi Jane, I unfortunately think I may have an infestation of this in Sydney (and am awaiting a copy of your book presently, so apologies if any of this is answered in there). I have a few questions for you and am extremely grateful for any advice that you can give as I feel like I’m going mad with this (and have also found professionals quite quick to jump to the ‘it’s all in your head hypothesis):
    – Are bird mite bites always visible? Mine don’t seem to be.
    – If I were to move house, would they likely follow me?
    – If I hot wash my clothes, would line drying be sufficient? (we don’t have a clothes dryer).
    – do you know if ditamaceous earth is a deterant to them, or is borax better?
    – do you have any tips on how to catch the critters to send them off for analysis?

    Thanks very much in advance.

    • Hello Judith,
      So sorry to hear of your troubles with arthropods. Someone from County Vector Control once told me: “When people can’t see what is biting them, it’s usually mites.” And, yes, it is quite possible you have mites you cannot see. They are not only small but translucent, unless they have recently fed.
      Moving house can be a great opportunity to cut way back on your infestation, although unfortunately there is no guarantee that you’ll leave them all behind. Be sure to move into a place that is mite-unfriendly, which is to say, floors not rugs, and blinds not curtains. The key thing is to use the opportunity of moving to sort, to winnow, and to clean. Get rid of everything you don’t really need, especially things that are fuzzy or hard to clean. Clean everything you pack, before you pack it and then when you unpack at the other end. And it will help if you install dehumidifiers in your new home, because mites are less functional (and less likely to reproduce) in a dry environment. They are also less functional in a cool environment, so run air conditioners in your new home when the weather is hot. Even doing all this, you may still harbor a mite population in your car if it has rugs and upholstery. Consider buying a minimalist car like a Honda Element or an uncarpeted Jeep. And please consult the protocols elsewhere on this website (as well as in the book) for suggestions on personal hygiene.
      Please consider adding both borax and ammonia to your washing load (just remember never to mix bleach and ammonia, a combination that produces a toxic gas). I don’t know how much of a difference a clothes dryer makes.
      Some people have good luck with diatomaceous earth. I found borax more effective. However, there are no scientific studies of things like this, as far as I know, and one person’s experience is a pretty limited data set.
      As for catching mites for analysis: This is a challenge. You didn’t say whether you know where you got your mites, but if they came from a pet or a backyard hen, taking the animal to a vet may do the trick – especially a vet associated with a veterinary college. Catching mites on your person is no easy task. Just for comparison, the scientists who study non-parasitic face mites used to think those mites lived on 8-13% of people. That was when the best method was to try to catch whole specimens. Then entomologists started sequencing the DNA on people’s faces and demonstrated that 100% of people have face mites (Just think! But at least face mites like Demodex only eat eyelash gunk and aren’t parasites). Unfortunately the capture method is still used to try to catch parasitic mites. It would be great if people with parasitic mites started hanging out with biohackers and Citizen Scientists, and learned how to sequence the DNA in their parasites. I don’t know if the Citizen Science movement has arrived in Sidney, but if it has, you have only your mites to lose.
      Don’t mean to be flippant — I remember what a terribly challenging time it is when a house and family are infested. I wish I had a magic wand to make them all go away. Unfortunately, given the state of our knowledge, it is hard work to get rid of an infestation. Hope you are able to find a pest control operator who is knowledgeable about mites — some companies even have an entomologist on staff or as a consultant. And I hope the protocols on this website (which are also in the book) prove useful.
      Please let me know how it goes.
      Take care,

      • Thanks for that Jane, the fight continues, but I do feel hopeful (and have the privilege as a renter of a room in a flat that I can pick up and move fairly easily; and thankfully hadn’t unpacked much of my stuff when the infestation started). You might be interested to know that I did contact a university-related entomology department and, while sympathetic, they weren’t really helpful in that they said I’d definitely be able to see bird mites on me ‘because they’re black and .5 of a millimetre’; that they’d die off in 3 weeks time, and that I’d have big, visible bites on me if I did have them (which I don’t). So, the misinformation continues unfortunately.

        • Also forgot to ask: not having much luck with PCOs here. If I were to spray the room myself, what chemicals should I use? I’ve seen things online sayings pyrethrum and pyrethrins don’t work on bird mites, do you know if this is true?

          • And also forgot to ask, when wiping everything down to pack or move or whatever, what is best to use? Am using a mix of water and ammonia at the moment.

          • Glad you have the flexibility to move.
            The first step is to throw out most of what you own.
            Yes, clean what you take along. Water and ammonia is great. Remember: NEVER mix ammonia and bleach! The combination releases a toxic gas.
            Move into a place with floors and blinds (NOT carpet and curtains).
            Wash your clothes and linens with ammonia and borax before you pack.
            Scrub yourself well too. The process of moving may kick up some of the little darlings that have been hiding in corners.
            Clean everything again when you unpack, just for good measure.
            And if you have a carpeted and upholstered car, keep in mind that you are bringing along an infested environment. If you can get by without a car, that is best. If you must have a car, get one with rubber floors and plastic seats (like a Jeep or a Honda Element).
            Happy moving!

          • According to information in Olivier Sparagano’s book on D. gallinae (which is expensive but worth it), mites are evolving immunity to the pesticides most frequently used to treat them (including the types you mentioned).
            However, these pesticides still have some effectiveness. The particular mites your are dealing with may or may not have evolved around them, just like when a person has a bacterial infection, the particular strain of bacteria may or may not be immune to any given antibiotic.
            The adaptability of mites is one reason why people use a variety of approaches, including the use of dehumidifiers. It would be tough for mites to evolve immunity to having their skin dry out.
            Good luck and be very careful in the use of anything toxic. You will be here long after you get rid of these damned things, and you want to preserve your health for the long term.

        • Hello Jude,
          It continues to amaze me just how much misinformation there is out there among certain professionals in the field.
          Bird mites are translucent unless they have fed recently. They are dark in color if they are on a host like a chicken that is itself covered in dirt. Why would anyone think they would spontaneously die off in three weeks?
          Please send your university contact a copy of David George’s article in Parasites and Vectors: “Should the poultry red mite Dermanyssus gallinae be of wider concern for veterinary and medical science?”
          I’m afraid it is up to us to educate the folks who try and fail to help people with mites.
          All the best,

  5. So confused from talking to PCOs and reading online. Am wondering, what chemicals did your PCO end up using that actually worked? There is a fair bit that you can actually buy and use yourself here in Australia so the more specific you can be the better. Thanks in advance.

    • My PCO used pyrethrins, and they were somewhat helpful.
      We had way too much stuff at the time we treated.
      If we had used the 5S* approach ahead of time, it would have been better.

      Your infestation may be more or less susceptible to miticides. There is much genetic variation in this, in the same way that there is much genetic variation in how susceptible bacteria are to antibiotics.
      Wishing you all the best, and do let me know how it goes.

      *5S is a Japanese system for paring down to essential belongings. There are many good summaries of it on the internet.

  6. Do you need a dehumidifier in every room? Do you leave them on day and night? Sleep with them on?

    • Hello Michelle, sorry to hear of your troubles with mites.
      Unfortunately there is little controlled research on dealing with parasitic mites, and for each of us, our best guide is what works for us.
      I can tell you that I ran dehumidifiers in every room, 24/7, and it seemed to help.
      Best of luck, and do let me know how it goes.

  7. Jane…I have your book and my apartment is a senior community and they are in denial and do not help. What is the best thing to use on my skin so I can sleep. I am using baby oils and sometimes vasiline jelly. Is there anything better. I am 70 years old and broke from this and can’take take much more. Hospitals don’the believe either.
    Yours truly,
    Elaine DeMarco

    • Hello Elaine,
      I am so sorry to hear of your troubles with mites. It is not surprising that the folks managing your community are in denial, as that is very common and also financially beneficial for building managers who do not address the problem.
      You asked specifically about your skin, but I would urge you to consider steps for your environment as well. At least in my case, it was evident that the parasitic mites co-infested the skin and the environment, and if one place became inhospitable they waited it our elsewhere. And they can be dormant a long time.
      So for skin itself, I got a spray bottle and filled it most of the way with witch hazel, then added a few drops each of neem oil and several essential oils (eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender are good). This was based on findings in an article in Olivier Sparagano’s book about Dermanysssus gallinae, which included the results of a study showing that certain essential oils don’t just repel chicken mites but are actually toxic to them. Olivier also recommends using talc on the skin, so another approach is to buy a talc powder that already contains peppermint oil and use that. The key thing to keep in mind is how these materials will affect you: some people are allergic to talc, so if you are one of them, of course don’t do this. And keep the concentrations of essential oils low, just a few drops in a bottle of solution, as essential oils are also toxic to people in too large a quantity. As we get older, our capacity to break down and excrete substances decreases, so pay attention to your own body.
      As for your apartment, please see the protocols on this site. If you have rugs, get rid of them. Vacuum frequently. As a senior, if your energy to clean is more limited, get a little robot vacuum cleaner if you can. Keep the temperature and humidity in your apartment low — use an air conditioner and a dehumidifier. Get out into the world. If you are sitting at home, you are a meal in waiting.
      And just for good measure, get a copy of David George’s article and show it to your building management. Who knows, it might do some good. Available free on the website of the journal, Parasites & Vectors:
      Should the poultry red mite Dermanyssus gallinae be of wider concern for veterinary and medical science?
      Best of luck and do let me know how this goes.
      Take care,

  8. [email protected]

    I am beyond exhausted . Been 18 months. Traveling family. Not worth it.
    No perthemin works , no pils , nothing. Unfortuantly we have three floors of carpet , old commercial. I live in two places, which is so so tiring.
    Will listen, money is endless doing this. Dr app, no education , Scienctist need to teach these Dr.s . I store things away in a shed. Will 1 or 2 years be ok?

    • Hello Janice,

      I hope you can simplify your life. As you already know, two residences with carpet in one is too much. You’ll need to treat your person and residence simultaneously to make a real difference.

      I agree completely that education is needed to help break through mite denial.

      Please let me know how you are doing.
      All the best,

  9. Please contact me , i am so overwhelmed.
    Abandonment , all rooms are wall to wall, the money over 2 years is endless.
    I stored away things is two years long enough?

    • Hello Janice,

      So sorry to hear how difficult this is. If you are still experiencing mites, anything you get out of storage will become infested again, even if it was stored long enough. I don’t know what kind of mite you have and can only speak from my own experience, but two years was not long enough for our stuff.

      Hoping the protocols on this website will help you gain some tranquillity. This can be a long battle. Spend time in a chlorinated pool if you can, and a jacuzzi with jets you can point at your feet can be very nice. Stay away from your residence except to clean or to sleep.

      Please let me know how you are doing.
      All the best,

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