Feather Lice

Feather lice are observed as small groupings of tiny dark spots in the webbing of the feathers. Holding a feather up to the light will show feather lice very clearly. Budgies can have large numbers at the base of the tail feathers, so many in fact that they look like mud stuck to the feathers.

The following information has been provided by Dr. Rob Marshall:

Lice and Mite Control
The treatments for lice, mites and flies concentrate around the breeding season when the weather is warm and the number of young birds is high. The treatments of the past (e.g. O/P insecticides such as malathion) are very toxic to birds. Unknowingly, bird enthusiasts were poisoning themselves, their young birds and the breeding performance of their birds. Fortunately, nowadays, safer and more effective products such as Ivermectin type medicine, appropriate insectide treatment and Water Cleanser have replaced the “old” toxic insecticides. These three products are used in combination to control lice, mites and biting flies in parrot and finch aviaries.

Ivermectin type medicine
Is a remarkable product given in the drinking water which not only kills lice, mites and flies, but also roundworms and blood parasites. It is perfectly safe to use in breeding birds and during the moult. Ivermectin kills those ecto-parasites which live on the bird, suck blood or skin scale, but it does not kill quill mites.

Appropriate insectide treatment
Is a natural insecticide (permethrin is extracted from daisy flowers) powder which is mixed in water and sprayed throughout the aviary or used as a bath to “break” the life cycle of the ecto-parasites. Its residual action kills the eggs, nymphs and those parasites which do not suck blood/eat skin scale (e.g. quill mites) nor live on the bird (e.g. red mite, biting fly, mosquitoes). It is used the day Ivermectin type medicine is given to break heavy infestations of ecto-parasites.

Water Cleanser
Is used in the bath water to kill ecto-parasites and clean the feathers of dead quill mites after Ivermectin is used. It is also used as a dual purpose aviary disinfectant and insect repellent when flies and mosquitoes are a problem.

Other Options for Treatment and Prevention:


To remove lice, it is recommended to use a mild pet insecticide, such as “Nuvan.” After spraying the plumage, wait for 2 – 3 minutes and then gently ruffle the feathers over a white tray or plastic sheet to collect the lice which fall from the feathers.

I found that one great way to remove lice and mites from your birds is to sprinkle Sevin Garden dust under their wings and tail, and on the back. Check the birds the next day and if there are still lice present, repeat the process, as needed. I found Sevin dust [active ingredient: Carbaryl (1-napthyl N-methylcarbamate)] equally effective in getting rid of red mites.

Avian Insect Liquidator is another way to get rid of mites, lice and other insects in the birds’ environment. This all-purpose insecticide from Vetafarm contains a water-based insecticide that is harmless to birds but effective against insects.


Sanitize and treat the birds’ environment (cages, perches, aviaries, nesting areas, etc.). Secondly, allow your birds to bathe daily. Most birds enjoy doing so and if you provide them with a shallow clean dish, they will usually be happy to bathe without encouragement. Some birds like to be misted, or even sprayed. Sprinkling Sevin dust underneath nest bowls and around nests will eliminate all kinds of insects.

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Information contained on this website is provided as general reference only. For application to specific circumstances, professional advice should be sought.

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