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Bedbugs

Bedbugs (Cimex lectularius and C. hemipterus) are small wingless insects that feed on the chicken's blood at night. Bedbugs can cause chickens a great deal of stress. Heavy infestations may lead to excessive feather loss, cloacal irritation, lesions on the breast and legs, and even anemia in extreme cases (especially in younger and/or smaller-sized bantam breeds). In addition, bedbugs are known to harbor over 40 different infectious pathogens including viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa.

Where Bedbugs Come From


Bed bugs move from place to place in people’s belongings—for example, in boxes, bags, and luggage. They are often found in hotel rooms, apartments, and dormitory rooms.

What Bedbugs Look Like


Adult bedbugs are reddish-brown, flat, wingless, oval-shaped insects that resemble the appearance of confetti (typically being between 5-7 mm in length). After feeding on blood, the bedbug changes and appears more balloon-like and elongated. Young bedbugs are much smaller than adults, and are a different color--they have a white-yellowish or translucent appearance and are barely visible to the naked eye.

Bedbug Behavior


Bedbugs are mainly nocturnal, hiding during the day in cracks, crevices and corners of coops and nest boxes. They feed by piercing the chicken's skin with their beak-like mouthparts, which allow them to withdraw blood. They will generally feed for 5 to 10 minutes, after which they return to their hiding spot to digest their meal which may take 3 to 7 days.

Female bedbugs lay their eggs in the crevices, where they hatch in 4 to 12 days. One female bedbug can lay up to 540 eggs in her lifetime. Under the right conditions, bed bug populations can eventually double every 16 days. When disturbed, Bedbugs let off a distinct, offensive odor similar to what stink bugs let off; this odor is the result of the oily secretion produced by special glands. Bed bugs can survive and remain active at temperatures as low as 7°C (46°F), but they die when their body temperatures reaches 45°C (113°F).

Bedbugs Vs Red Poultry Mites Vs Sticktight Fleas



BedbugRed poultry miteSticktight Flea
Adult Appearance   
 BedbugRed poultry miteSticktight flea
Size4-12 mm (0.15-0.47 in)1-1.5 mm (0.04-0.06 in)1.5-4 mm (0.06-0.16 in)
ColorReddish brownGray to blackDark brown
Turns redYesYesNo
WingsNoNoNo
Body typeOval and flatOvalFlat
SpeedQuick-movingSlow movingSlow moving
Visible to the naked eyeYesYesYes
Feeds onBloodBloodBlood
Where they are foundHide in crevices, cracks, behind floorboards, in walls, and behind wall outlets during the day, feed on chickens at nightHide in crevices and cracks during the day, feed on chickens at nightBare skin on the head - comb, wattles, near eyes
TransmissionContaminated equipmentWild birds, rodents, wildlife, dogs, cats, humans, contaminated equipmentTurkeys, wildlife, wild birds, dogs, cats, horses, pigs, people, soil, litter
Where eggs are laidTiny, microscopic whitish, sticky eggs that adhere to surfaces in secluded areasLays their eggs in their hiding spotsLay their eggs around the eyes anad wattles of chickens, causing nodules. Once the flea larvae hatch, they drop off the chicken to live in the soil for 2 weeks.
Average Life cycle4 weeks2 weeks1-2 months
How you can tellLook around the premises for the presence of bugsLook for them at night on the birds Visible during the daytime, found in clusters on unfeathered areas, such as the bird's eyes, comb, and wattles.
TemperatureTemperate regionsWarm weatherWarm and humid weather
Clinical signsExcessive feather loss, vent irritation, lesions on breasts and legs, anemia, reduced egg productionRestlessness at night, dermatitis, anemia, may cause chickens to alter where they roost at night.dark brown spots face, anemia, restlessness, swollen eyelids, crusted lesions, ulcerations, blindness
ZoonoticYesYesYes
Carry diseasesYesYesNo

How to get rid of Bed bugs


Bed bugs can be a challenge to control. They can survive for months without feeding. Also, they are becoming increasingly more resistant (immune) to pyrethroid pesticides, such as Tempo® (cyfluthrin) and permethrin. Make sure to check the labels and follow the directions when using any pesticide product. Many are highly toxic to chickens, and should not be applied to the coop with the chickens inside. When spraying, make sure to spray all corners, cracks, and crevices---anything that may be a potential bed bug hiding spot. Since the eggs may not always be killed during treatment, spraying will probably need to be repeated after approximately 2 weeks (see label for instructions).

Clinical Signs

Pale comb or wattles
Weakness
Irritable behavior
Feather loss
Vent irritation
Lesions on breasts and legs

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Inspection of premises
  • Insect identification

Treatment

Pyrethroid pesticides: Make sure to check the labels and follow the directions when using any pesticide product. Many are highly toxic to chickens, and should not be applied to the coop with the chickens inside. When spraying, make sure to spray all corners, cracks, and crevices---anything that may be a potential bed bug hiding spot. Since the eggs may not always be killed during treatment, spraying will probably need to be repeated after approximately 2 weeks (see label for instructions).

Prevention

  • Biosecurity measures
  • Regularly clean and disinfect coops
  • Seal off any cracks or crevices

Scientific References

Good Overviews

Risk Factors

  • History of bed bug infestations on the premises