Researchers Discover Four New Mite Species Living Inside Ibis and Spoonbill Feathers

By Meredith Swett Walker If you were to page through a field guide to birds searching for species that look as if they were dreamed up by Dr. Seuss, you’d probably choose some from the family Threskiornithidae, which includes ibises and spoonbills. For instance, the Eurasian spoonbill, a leggy bird that looks like it has […]

Dust Baths and Longer Beaks Can Make Cage-free Chickens into Mite-free Chickens

By Meredith Swett Walker Life is improving for America’s chickens. Due to consumers’ increasing interest in animal welfare, large portions of the poultry industry are shifting towards less restrictive housing. Many poultry farmers are replacing the conventional conjoined small wire cages, called “battery cages,” with cage-free housing in large open poultry houses. Cage-free housing gives […]

Researchers Raise Maggots on Chicken Blood to Save Darwin’s Finches

By Meredith Swett Walker In 1676, the great scientist Isaac Newton (of gravity fame) wrote a letter to another scientific titan, Robert Hooke (who had coined the biological term “cell”), in which he humbly stated, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” Even in using that line he was […]

Tree-killing Hemlock Woolly Adelgids Hitch Rides on Birds

By Meredith Swett Walker At first glance, you might not think these little bits of fluff could pose much of a threat. But, like Star Trek’s troublesome tribbles, hemlock woolly adelgids (Adelges tsugae) can quickly multiply and wreak havoc. When these tiny sap-sucking insects were introduced to the forests of the Northeastern United States, they […]

Battling Chicken Mites with Bags of Brimstone

By Meredith Swett Walker The northern fowl mite (Ornithonyssus sylviarum) plagues chickens, causing inflammation, anemia, and basically making them itch like the devil. The mites are the most common ectoparasite found on poultry. But researchers from the University of California, Riverside have come up with a diabolically clever way to control the little bloodsuckers — […]