Stratiolaelaps spp

Poultry Defender™ is a soil-dwelling predatory mite (Stratiolaelaps spp.) that feeds on red fowl mites, small insects and nematodes in soils.

Poultry Defender™ is a small pale brown, highly mobile mite with a lot of energy! Adult mites are 0.5-1.0 mm long and are commonly found in the top few centimetres of soil or compost.

Below 12°C, Poultry Defender™ becomes inactive, and development stops when temperatures fall below 8°C. The species does not hibernate (diapause) and is able to survive for 6-8 weeks without prey by feeding on decaying organic matter.

Poultry Defender ™ is not considered harmful to humans or animals, and no environmental effects are expected.

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The pest: whitefly (left) & the solution: Encarsia (right)

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Normal whitefly pupa (white) and parasitized pupa (black). An adult Encarsia will emerge from the black scale(right)

The Pest: Poultry Red Mites

Red fowl mites and Northern fowl mites look roughly similar without inspection with a microscope. Adult mites have 8 legs and are approximately 1 mm long with a dark red to black appearance. Larvae have 6 legs and may be lighter in colour or pale as they do not contain the hosts blood.

Female adult mites lay eggs directly on their host. The eggs hatch in one to two days, depending on the temperature and humidity. The larvae do not feed on the bird; however, larvae rapidly develop to the nymph stage in about eight hours. The nymphs do feed on blood from the birds and become adults within four to seven days.

Adult female mites complete the egg-laying process within two days after taking a blood meal from their host. The number of eggs laid per female is relatively low, usually two to five. However, the short life cycle means that mite populations can increase rapidly, with newly infested birds capable of supporting a mite population in excess of 20,000 per bird in 9 to 10 weeks under favourable conditions.

Red fowl mites can survive for as long as 8 months without feeding, northern fowl mites can only survive a few days without a host to feed on.

Signs and symptoms of fowl mites include:

  • Hens are agitated and stressed

  • Chickens no longer want to roost on their perches

  • Blood spots on the eggs

  • Dark spots in the cage near the seams

Life Cycle

Females lay their eggs near the soil surface, and these hatch into six-legged larvae. There are two further nymph stages and a life cycle can be completed in 10 days at 25 °C, but can vary from 7-30 days depending on temperature.

Environmental Conditions

Poultry-Defender™ survives well in most chicken coop conditions, although flooded or waterlogged areas are not tolerated. Optimum conditions for development are 20-30 °C, and ground temperatures above 30 °C are harmful. The minimum temperature threshold for Poultry Defender population development is 10°C.


Poultry-Defender is supplied in a mixture of media and vermiculite with mould mites as a food source for the mites. There are a minimum of 10,000 predatory mites per litre of mixture.

Application Rates

Low pest pressure: 400 predators per square metre 1 litre per 25 square metres
Higher pest pressure: 500 - 1000 predators per square metre 1 litre per 10 - 20 square metres

Repeated applications may be needed for heavy pest infestations.

Release and Storage Instructions

Poultry-Defender™ need the following handling and treatment:

On arrival, release Poultry-Defender™ as soon as possible

  • Poultry-Defender* can be stored for a maximum of 2 days at 10-15 °C


  • Poultry-Defender™ should be sprinkled around the base of the chicken coop, ideally as close to known poultry red mite locations.

Post Release

Poultry-Defender™ may take 2-3 weeks to exert an effect on pest populations. Poultry-Defender™ can be hard to find in coop floor, therefore monitor pest numbers to determine the need for further releases.

Re-application of Poultry-Defender™ is recommended to 'hot spots' should some pests remain.

Before introducing Poultry-Defender™ into your crop please check residual chemical affects and ensure you know chemical compatibilities of products that may be applied. For further information please contact Bioforce at office@bioforce.net.nz or Avian Empire at theavianempire@gmail.com