Local Agriculture Office Agrees Mysterious Bites Likely Oak Itch Mites

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Suspected oak mite wound (courtesy photo)

Some Arlingtonians suspected it a fewer weeks ago, and an entomologist with Virginia Tech has present confirmed it: those mysterious, itchy reddish bug bites generating a buzz present are apt from oak itch mites.

The Virginia Tech Insect ID Lab has not yet received a mite this twelvemonth to study, Kirsten Ann Conrad, an hold cause for Virginia Cooperative Extension, tells ARLnow. But the mite mentation nevertheless is apt correct, she says.

“No entomologist tin place a bug based connected a bite. People person precise antithetic reactions to stinging biting insects,” she said. “In this case, determination was plentifulness of circumstantial grounds that links outbreaks of oak leafage mites, and the resulting bites connected humans, to cicada emergences.”

The mites are hard to way down due to the fact that they’re betwixt .2 and .8 millimeters and “nearly invisible,” according to a flier distributed by VCE’s Arlington and Alexandria offices. While they chiefly provender connected the eggs and larvae of the oak leafage gall midge and wood boring insects, they’re present due to the fact that of the abundance of cicada nymphs. The mites wound humans when they tally retired of options.

“Humans are not their archetypal prime of food,” Conrad said.

The writer of the flier, Conrad said she has been getting complaints of “large raised, reddish tegument welts and utmost itching” straight from residents and during VCE’s assorted educational sessions. (An Arlington County spokesperson declined remark and referred america to VCE’s statements.)

The bites and mites person besides been wide reported successful the media. After ARLnow first reported that residents were being bitten and suspected oak itch mites, the improvement was covered by TV stationsthe Washington Post, and adjacent different national and international outlets.

We aboriginal unscientifically polled readers to spot if they deliberation they’ve been bitten by these mites. About 93% of the 5,463 respondents reported that they person been bitten by the mites anyplace from erstwhile to “a lot.”

“It seems to beryllium precise local,” Conrad said. “And I don’t cognize what the grade of the occupation is extracurricular of the areas successful which we had the Brood X emergence.”

The precocious effect complaint is not surprising, according to Conrad, who said that during a 2004 outbreak successful Crawford County, Kansas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that astir 54% of the colonisation suffered from the bites.

While the attacks person been linked to the Brood X emergence, a cyclical occurrence, radical person told Conrad they’ve ne'er been bitten similar this before.

“People present accidental to maine that when, 17 years ago, the past Brood X emerged, they don’t retrieve having specified an outbreak of these itch mites then,” she said. “This is my archetypal ever acquisition with them myself.”

The wet, windy upwind could besides beryllium to blame.

“Their occurrence is attributed to prolific reproduction and their dispersal by wind,” according to the flier. “These microscopic mites question with the wind, and it is apt that moist upwind and abundance of nutrient proviso has caused the colonisation of these communal insects to grow.”

As for however agelong they’ll instrumentality around, Conrad says determination has been speculation that the mites could beryllium a occupation until frost arrives.

“I anticipation not, due to the fact that I’ve been getting those bites too,” she said. “I tin archer you that — and this seems to beryllium contradictory — cool, moist upwind conditions favour the maturation of the population, which is not what we’ve had this summer.”

As for the bites, they’re not life-threatening. Typically, the itching starts wrong 10 to 16 hours aft the mite bites and tin past up to 2 weeks. Conrad advised utilizing over-the-counter products to trim itching and inflammation, specified arsenic calamine lotion, Benadryl and After-Bite, and advised radical to spot their doc if the irritation requires aesculapian attention.

When going outside, radical tin use repellents specified arsenic DEET formulations, IR-3535, picaridin and lipid of citrus eucalyptus. People who are peculiarly delicate to bites should don agelong sleeves, a chapeau and agelong pants erstwhile outdoors, she said. Showering and washing covering aft coming wrong tin help.

Treating oak trees with pesticides, however, “is not recommended nor is attraction of trees showing cicada damage,” she said.

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