Serving the Hobby...
The most common external parasites that pester our birds are feather lice, red mites, pigeon flies, and mosquitoes. Since parasites like these can occur in almost any climate, they must be accounted for when planning a loft strategy. Feather lice chew holes into the flights or cause other types of visible damage to the feathers, which can affect a show or racing pigeon's performance. The common red mite can be a real problem in some lofts if it becomes established. It commonly hides somewhere in the loft during the day, and at night comes out from its hiding place to bite and feed on the blood of our birds. Besides being a nuisance and not allowing the flock to rest properly, they can help to spread an assortment of diseases. The pigeon fly is probably the most dangerous parasite that can attack our birds. It lives most of its life on our pigeons, leaving only to lay its eggs somewhere in the loft. Pigeon flies bite the birds often, and besides causing considerable discomfort, they can be a major cause of pigeon malaria. Mosquitoes would have to be considered the next worst parasite, simply because they are found in almost all climates. They are the most common carrier of the pigeon pox virus.
There are numerous precautions we can take within our lofts to help control external parasites. In the case of lice, pigeon flies, and even mites, this mostly involves controlling their numbers by quarantining any new birds, and dipping or dusting our birds with pesticides. By keeping our lofts clean, we can eliminate many of the places where mites and flies can hide their eggs.