Red mites are small arthropods, the body length of adults ranges from about 0.6 to 0.8 mm, while specimens saturated with blood can enlarge the body size by 30%, reaching a length of about 1 mm.

Nymphs and adults have four pairs of legs, while the non-blood-drawing, inactive larvae are six-legged. At the edges of the ventral side of the body there are spiracles (peritremae) functioning as organs of gas exchange and regulation of the hydration level of the mite’s body.

The color of the body surface depends on food saturation. Hungry specimens are whitish or grayish, while mites turn bright red or ruby red after blood collection.

Economic impact

Red poultry mite is the most damaging parasite of laying hens worldwide. Economic losses from poultry mite infestation severely affect the productivity of the egg industry. Consequences of red mite infestation in a layer operation include primarily a negative impact on feed conversion ratio, a drop in egg production, an increase in downgraded eggs, a higher susceptibility to poultry diseases, and more dead animals. A still widely quoted estimate for the cost of mite control and production losses is €130 million annually. In addition to its effects on chicken’s health and welfare, red mite infestation also poses public health concerns, due to the role of D. gallinae as a disease vector of zoonotic diseases, and its medical impact on humans living or working in close association with poultry.

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