english VersionDeutsche Version Veterinärmedizinische Fakultät, Universität Leipzig, Institut für Parasitologie (Institutsdirektor: bis 30.Sept.2001 Prof. Dr. Regine Ribbeck; ab 01.Okt.2001 Prof. Dr. A. Daugschies)
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I. Control of feather mites
II. Control of quill mites
III. Control of feather follicle mites

I. Control of feather mites

Around 1950 (Reinhardt), feather mites of poultry still have been treated by embrocating with a powder mixture consisting of one part sodium fluoride and 4 parts talcum powder, as well as contact insecticides based on DDT or DDD. Vogel (1969) preferred a dipping bath containing insecticides in order to treat pigeons infested by feather mites. During this process, the body excluding the head has been dipped into this certain liquid for approximately 60 seconds. After this procedure, the pigeons have been kept in a warm room in order to let their feather coat dry completely. Because of dangerous residues, in Germany production and use of DDT have been prohibited in 1972.
According to Hiepe and Ribbeck (1982) it is possible to control feather mites by local treatment, twice within 10 days, using acaricides. Mites are then killed by spraying or applying powder containing insecticides such as pyrethrum, chlorinated hydrocarbons (Lindan, Jacutin) or bromociclen (Alugan), as well as organ phosphorous compounds (Trichlorfon, Dichlorvos). In the following years, no new control measures have been found on the market as the recommendation of pyrethrum insecticides, pyrethroids, carbamates and organ phosphorous compounds by Eckert and others (1992) as well as Ritchie (1994) proof.

In the nineties, due to good results using Ivermectin (Ivomec®) controlling a large amount of parasites in almost all domestic animals, this substance has been applied on birds in order to control feather mites and bird lice as well. Ivermectin can be used in birds using the so called “spot-on” method. It is a systemic insecticide, being absorbed through skin and spreading within the body via blood and lymphoid liquid. Quinten (1998) prefers this scheme of treatment. Compared to this method, Kummerfeld (1999) suggests the application of insecticide powder in order to control feather mites.

We have compared spot on treatment schemes by Ivomec® (Ivermectin Merial) and Stronghold® (Selamectin Pfizer) in Mulga Parrots (Psephotus varius) infested by Dubininia melopsittaci.

Each bird (average body weight in Mulga Parrots is 60-70 g) received a spot of Ivomec® S 0,27% (for piglet or weaner) or Stronghold® 15mg onto the skin of the featherless neck.

In the case of Ivomec®, already after a time of 2 days, significant reduction and loss of motility of living mites has been observed. After a period of 14 days, no living mites have been detected.

Stronghold®, like Ivomec® is a systemic drug. All mites have been killed 8 days after the treatment.

Concerning both systemic drugs, it has proven that mites on wing feathers earlier showed a reaction than mites on tail feathers. Another experiment using double dose Stronghold® (2 drops spot on) did not show deviation in drug safety or effect.

It is useful to repeat the treatment after a period of 14 days since larvae hatched in this period have not been affected during the first treatment. Once feather mites have been detected in the stock, it is necessary to treat all birds in order to prevent spreading. Furthermore, it is useful to treat the surrounding and the cage of the birds by cleaning and applying a acaricide containing disinfection solution, since moulting feathers are frequently infested by mites or mites that have fallen out of the plumage are present.

II. Control of quill mites

Although Borchert (1962), Vogel (1969) and Kummerfeld (1981) suggest dipping baths in insecticide containing liquid (Vogel recommends dipping twice with a break of 4 weeks), as well as Kummerfeld also suggests the treatment with liquid, powder or spray acaricides, Hiepe and Ribbeck (1982) state, that up to this point there is no reliable control measure against feather quill mites known. In Vogel’s opinion concerning pigeons, frequent bathing could be a method of preventing an infestation with Syringophilus bipectinatus.

Dorrestein and others (1997) have effectively controlled Dermoglyphus passerinus living in the feather shaft of canaries by applying 0, 02% Ivermectin (dissolved in propylene glycol) in a dose of 0, 2 mg/kg body weight s.c. or spot on. They recommend an additional control investigation 6 to 11 days after the treatment. In case of the presence of mites at this point of time, affected birds are once again treated this way. Normally, 15 days after the treatment, there are no mites to be found.
After 4 weeks, all birds kept in this stock have proven negative.

According to Quinten (1995) and Kaleta and others (1997), the spot on method using Ivomec® has proven reliable in quill mites.

Yet, up to this point, we do not have own experiences concerning the control of feather shaft mites.

III. Control of feather follicle mites

In case of infestation with feather follicle mites, Reinhardt (1950) and Borchert (1962) recommend lancing the nodules and squeezing out the content of the nodules before embrocating with an alcohol based “Peru”-balm.

Vogel (1969) and Kummerfeld (1981) also name dipping baths for control.
Kummerfeld though, has had good results also by local application of Odylen after feather plucking in affected skin areas.

To Hiepe and Ribbeck (1982), no specific treatment schemes against feather follicle mites have been known.

Because of the liability of Ivomec® against quill mites and Stronghold® against feather mites, in our opinion it should be successful to treat birds infested by feather follicle mites with these drugs, as well.


Borchert, A. (1962): Lehrbuch der Parasitologie für Tierärzte. Hirzel Verlag Leipzig, 3. Aufl.

Dorrestein, G. M., Horst, H. H.A. van der, Cremers, H.J.W.M., Hage, M. van der (1997): Quill mite (Dermoglyphus passerinus) infestation of canaries (Serinus canaria): diagnosis and treatment. Avian Pathology 26: 195-199.

Eckert, J., Kutzer, E., Rommel, M., Bürger, H.-J. und Körting, W. (1992): Veterinärmedizinische Parasitologie. Verlag Paul Paray.

Hiepe, Th. und Ribbeck, R. (1982): Veterinärmedizinische Arachno - Entomologie. Bd. 4, In: Th. Hiepe (Hrsg.) Lehrbuch der Parasitologie. Gustav Fischer Verlag Jena.

Kummerfeld, N. (1981): Milben und Federlinge bei Ziervögeln und Tauben. Der Praktische Tierarzt, 63: 36-40.

Kummerfeld, N. (1999): Parasitäre Erkrankungen. In: Kaleta, E. u. M.E. Krautwald-Junghanns (Hrsg.) (1999) : Kompendium der Ziervogelkrankheiten. Schlütersche , Hannover

Quinten, Doris (1998): Ziervogelkrankheiten. Verlag Eugen Ulmer Stuttgart.

Reinhardt, R. (1950): Lehrbuch der Geflügelkrankheiten. Verlag M.& H. Schaper, Hannover, 4.Aufl.

Ritchie, B.W., Harrison, G.J. and L.R. Harrison (1994): Avian medicine: Principles and application. Wingers Publishing Inc., Lake Wortzh, Florida.

Vogel, K. (1969): Die Taube - Taubenkrankheiten. VEB Deutscher Landwirtschaftsverlag Berlin.