Hey HF chicken friends- it's been awhile since anyone posted on this thread, but I'm having a problem and could use some help. I also posted over on backyard chickens a couple of different times, but don't seem to get many responses over there.
I am sort of at my wit's end- I have been fighting some kind of bug in my nest boxes very purposely in the past couple of weeks, and am not seeing much progress. I do NOT think they are mites, lice, or fleas, which may be why what I'm doing isn't working. Here's why I don't think its mites/lice/fleas:
1. They are longish, oval shaped grey bugs with two prominent antennea in a "v" shape at their head (they are definitely not little round specks and never look red, even when I crush them. I have checked the roost bar after dark and don't see anything that looks like mites)
2. There are not "swarms" of them the way I would expect with mites- if you picture very tiny ants moving around in an enclosed space, that's what they look like
3. As far as I can tell, they are not on the chickens, just in the nest boxes (so probably not lice?)
4. They don't seem to fly, they crawl around quickly almost like small ants. I do think I've seen some of them jump like fleas, but I don't think they look like fleas to the naked eye.
Here is what I've done so far:
1. Thoroughly scrubbed and vacuumed the coop a week ago
2. Dusted everything, coop, nesting boxes, and birds included, with permethrin powder
3. Reapplied permethrin dust to coop and nesting boxes on Sunday
4. Sprayed birds with Poultry Protector on Sunday
5. Removed all shavings from coop so it just has a sand floor
6. Changed straw in nesting boxes three times in one week, and put the bare minimum of straw back in (much to the chicken's dismay- and at the cost of two cracked eggs)
I see these little grey bugs crawling all through the permethrin powder, which is still sitting on the wooden surfaces of the nest box, so it seems like it doesn't affect them? There were fewer of them when I changed the straw on Sunday than when I changed it today, which seems like a really bad sign- I would guess there were at least double the number today vs. Sunday.
I really want to figure out WHAT these things are so I can understand a) if/how they're bothering the chickens and b) how to get rid of them.
Can anyone help me with this? I could include a picture, but they're so small you really can't make anything out.
Not sure if it matters, but the reason I started looking for bugs was because of some signs I was seeing in the chickens. One of them seemed to have symptoms of mites: most noticably a bald patch on her back (this has been there 2-3 months), but I was checking her faithfully for signs of mites or lice that whole time and never saw any of the symptoms until last week I saw dirty looking residue around vent/at feather base (sounded like what I read about mites). She got a dawn dishsoap bath plus the heaviest permethrin dusting in the areas where I saw signs of bugs.
Two of them seems to be dropping a ton of feathers- I went out to the run just now and it looked like a "feather bomb" had just gone off. But it doesn't seem like a molt, as the feathers seem to be coming off their backs and chests. The two that lost the most feathers are also the two I sprayed most heavily with the Poultry Protector Sunday- that makes me worried I hurt them somehow?
I've never dealt with anything like this before and would truly appreciate advice from more experienced people.