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vbwilson, Colorado County, TX. What is accepted method of dealing with mites? I take my houses down after birds leave. I clean out and destroy all nesting materials, then wash houses, treys, etc. with 10% clorox and store for winter. In Spring I fill nest treys and gourds with nesting materials, either pine straw, cedar shavings or shredded wood, all accepted by birds. Birds arrive with mites as they constantly pick at themselves while perching. I have never let this bother me too much when I had a small colony. I now have two Alamo 14 units with gourds and two Trendsetter units. This year I had 45 active nests. I have had 42 young fledge thus far and have more young and even some hatching still in progress. In nest checking mites are evident in the nests and on the young. I would like to do something to help the birds with the mite problem.
Posts: 2121
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 10:24 pm
Location: Delaware/Dover

Sprinkle a little seven dust under the nest or use diatomaceous earth, a natural product.
~Ray~ Gingerich
1999 1pair, 2006 2 pair, 2008 2 pair,
2009 23 pair, 2010 39 pair, 2011 67 pair,
2012 115 pair, 2013 160 pair,
2014 152 pair, 2015 174 pair, 2016 178 pair
2017 187 pair, 2018 200 pair, 2019 171pair
2020 233 pair
Emil Pampell-Tx
Posts: 6743
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 1:26 pm
Location: Tx, Richmond (SW of Houston)
Martin Colony History: First started in Gretna, La in 1969 with a small homemade house, have had martins ever since at 2 different homes in Texas

There are 2 methods, one method is chemical free, the other method uses the chemical Sevin.

The sevin method is what I use, I sprinkle a 1/2teaspoon full of sevin dust under the nests, that usually controls them all season long. Sevin also comes in concentrated liquid, can be purchased at any garden store.

The chemical free way is to do nest changes on a regular basis, wipe out the housing with alcohol, and then replace the old with a new nest, and replace the babies. It depends upon how many mites you have, but changing the nests every 5 to 7 days usually controls the mites enough.
PMCA Member, 250 gourds, 6 poles, 2traps
Aaron H
Posts: 88
Joined: Tue May 03, 2011 3:29 pm
Location: Alabama/Florence

Hello, vbwilson.....I will have to agree with Emil on using sevin,
Their is a colony i know of that use's 5% sevin dust in their nests,
they put 1/2 teaspoon of dust around the edge of their gourds under
their pine needles.
The sevin dust has worked really good in the nests. the first year
the owner of the colony did not use sevin dust, he had a lot of his
young martins to jump out of the nest's, after the season was over
he took the gourds down they were full of mites, so the next season
he added the sevin dust, he has had the colony for 8 or 9 years now
and he hasn't had any more trouble with mites since he started the
dust. his colony has grow form a few pair to about 50 pair this season.
The use of sevin dust in martin houses & gourds is very controversial
some will say use it, some say don't use it, You will have to use your on
judgement on using it or not. I believe the sevin does a good job,
the colony i spoke of above hadn't showed any sign of trouble for
using sevin. Hope this will help you... :)
1990 -2009 trying
2010 1 pair 2young fledged.
2011 1 pair, & 1 SY male...6 young hatched 5 fledged.
2012 1 pair...4 young fledged.
2013... Back to starting over...
Posts: 2939
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

Last year and this year I used the Sevin under the nesting material. I put it in a couple of days before the eggs are due to start hatching. Have you done nest checks and actually seen the mites, or are you basing this off the "picking" you described by the adults. Martins will spend a lot of time "preening" themselves which is a natural way for them to smooth, straighten, and clean their feathers. It is not always a sign of mites or other bugs.
2020 Currently 42 nest, 110 babies, 64 eggs left to hatch(6-22-20) HOSP count-8
2019- 31 Pair over 100 fledged
2018- 15 pair last count 49 fledged
2017 3 SY pair nested, 12 eggs total, fledged 10. 4 additional SY's stayed all summer but never paired/nested.
2016 1 pair fledged 4
2015 Visitors
2014 Visitors
2013 Moved 6 miles away, 1 pair fledged 2.
2012 30 pair fledged 100.
2011 12 pair (11 that nested), 43 fledged.
2010 5 pair, 21 eggs, 16 hatched, 14 fledged.
Tim Stover
Posts: 505
Joined: Fri Jan 22, 2010 4:04 pm
Location: Tennesse/Madisonville

sevin is what i used this year emil advice from last year so far so good healthy baby birds
2009 2pair 2010 24pair 2011 106 pair
2012 124 pair
2013 145
2014 170 pair

Apply sevin right away. I lost a lot of young last year because I waited.
Posts: 1196
Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2010 3:10 pm
Location: Louisiana/Broussard
Martin Colony History: 2010-2014 located in Slidell LA. Gourd rack with 16 gourds. Max of 2 pairs during this short period in Slidell. Plenty of fledglings.

2014-present.. moved to Broussard LA. Same Gourd Rack but added a 6 room house (modified from a 12 room)

2020: after a long drought of nothing, 4 pairs and 4 nests, 23 eggs total (May2020)

I'm also using Sevin dust. About a teaspoon per gourd when I put in fresh straw at early in the year. So far no mites at all.
Posts: 189
Joined: Sat Apr 29, 2006 8:45 am
Location: Indiana/Scottsburg

Flyin-Lowe is right, martins preen a lot. I particularly like the characteristic wing out at a 90 degree angle posture. I've not seen any other bird preen quite like that.

But the martins either bring the mites with them in their travels or pick them up here in the USA. I find a little (1/2 teaspoon) of Sevin dust when the gourds go up in the early spring and after egg laying does the job.

A fellow martin landlord from north central Indiana uses the liquid Sevin when he puts the gourds up and never has mite trouble. This seems easy and a one time job.
Landlording since 1996 in beautiful southern Indiana.
Craig Dyer
Posts: 500
Joined: Fri May 13, 2005 2:24 pm
Location: Nevada, TX
Martin Colony History: Area is rural. Offer 28 compartments...metal housing (Lonestar Goliad) & Supergourds all w/crescent entrance holes. Purple martins are abundant here and eager for quality, well maintained, safe housing. Expect near 100% occupancy this season.

Advice offered here on the forum several years ago indicated that an 1/8th of a teaspoon of sevin dust per nest is adequate to control mites. That is what I do. Although in some years I have had to add more sevin later in the season. I understand sevin dust biodegrades rather quickly. So if it is exposed to sunlight or moisture it becomes ineffective. I have also found that storing the sevin dust indoors in a cool dry location prolongs it's shelf life.
Craig Dyer
Sandy - NC
Posts: 617
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 6:40 pm
Location: Rocky Mount, NC

You would be correct, Craig. After 7 days, sevin is inactive. Also, the smaller amount the better, like the 1/8 teaspoon, especially with older nestlings, as they like to flap their wings inside the compartment (provided the compartment is big enough and not a 6X6), so an excessive amount would create dust. Just a little applied neart the front of the nest and tapped down into the nest will do.

DE is absolutely worthless and a ripoff.
Don't ever, ever give up. It will happen.
Posts: 335
Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:18 am
Location: Georgetown, DE

I have never read of death from Seven. Death from mites... plenty. Simple answer. Also, if you find mites in a gourd or house, apply to EVERY COMPARTMENT, mites have legs and will move room to room, gourd to gourd (but gourds are better isolated)

I put it in every bird house, owl house, natural nest I find.

In my many years I have come to a conclusion that
one useless man is a shame,
two is a law firm and
three or more is a congress.-- John Adams
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