Using naturally repellent essential oils to control red mite populations

detail of the red poultry mite (dermanyssus gallinae) under the

Poultry Red Mite, an ectoparasite impacting the

Egg production industry

Why are poultry red mites harmful to laying hens?

Poultry red mites, scientifically known as Dermanyssus gallinae, are ectoparasitic arachnids that infest laying hens and other birds and feed on their blood, causing various health and economic issues in laying hen farming. These small mites are a concern for laying hens as they can lead to reduced egg production, anemia, skin irritation, and stress, ultimately affecting the overall well-being and productivity of the birds. Effective control and prevention measures are essential to manage poultry red mite infestations in laying hen farms.

What solutions can be implemented to control poultry red mites?

Many different solutions exist to control poultry red mite populations, such as cleaning and sanitation, temperature and humidity management inside the laying farms, diatomaceous earth, and obviously chemical treatments. In order to have an optimal control over red mite populations, it is recommended to combine theses different solutions by implementing an Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Natural alternatives to chemical treatments, such as in-feed natural essential oils, can also be used as part of an Integrated Pest Management, thanks to their documented repellent effect against poultry red mite.

Do essential oils have a repellent effect when

Supplemented through feed

Nor-Feed carried out a trial to see if standardized essential oils could have a repellent effect against poultry red mites when supplemented to laying hens through feed.

For this trial, laying hens were separated in 2 groups:

  • Control group: standard feed
  • Standardized Essential Oil (SEO) group: standard feed + 5000 ppm of SEO

Each group was confined in separate glass boxes connected with an olfactometer system to create 2 odor sources. 50 female poultry red mites were then free to chose between these two groups, for a blood meal, through a Y-shaped olfactometer route linked to the two different odors. Finally, a binomial test was then performed to analyze the behaviors of the individuals.

schéma y olfactometer red mites plan de travail 1

Trials results

The binomial test results revealed that up to 78% of tested poultry red mites were recorded feeding on the hens from the control group, while only 14% of them fed on the hens from the SEO group. These results show a significant (p<0,001) repellent effect against poultry red mites from the hens that were supplemented with standardized essential oils compared to the hens which were only fed a standard feed.

In our experimental conditions, the ex-vivo trial showed that hens fed the SEO supplemented feed were significantly less attractive to poultry red mites than those who were fed a standard feed. That evidenced that the indirect repellent effect of the standardized essential oils via feed supplementation was efficient to limit poultry red mites approaching hens for blood meals. Consequently, that could result in interrupting their reproduction, in other words, reducing their population growth.

nm produit

Complementary feed with aromatic compounds


Nor-Mite® is a feed additive with natural repellent aromatic compounds developed by Nor-Feed.