The red poultry mite, Dermanyssus gallinae, is one of the most economically deleterious ecto-parasites of layer hens worldwide. D. gallinae is difficult to eliminate from infested poultry farms, and even to study, because it resides on the host only during the bloodmeal at night, and hides in the crevices of poultry houses during the day. Here, the life-cycle of D. gallinae was reproduced entirely in vitro. Mites were incubated in a glass pipette at 30 °C, 60–95% relative humidity and total darkness. A feeding apparatus, composed of a membrane, reservoir and blood was fitted on the pipette during bloodmeals. We tested feeding rates on blood mixed with 1 of 3 anti-coagulants (EDTA, heparin and trisodium citrate) at different concentrations, and biological and artificial membranes. The best engorgement and survival rates for all 3 haematophagous life-stages of the parasite were observed in 1-day-old chick membranes and heparinized (0.02 mmol/ml) blood. We then describe the steps in developing a complete self-sustaining in vitro life-cycle. A colony of mites was maintained in vitro for 7 generations. Losses in the first generation were heavy, but survival had multiplied 5-fold by the fifth generation. We hypothesize that heavy mortality rates during the first life-cycle correspond to selective pressure: only the mites which fed and survived in vitro were able to reproduce.