- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - People in the Kansas City region may soon feel the bite as favorable weather and environmental conditions have led to a boom in the oak leaf itch mite population.

According to horticulture agent Dennis Patton, The Kansas State Extension office reports that it has fielded its highest number of mite-related calls in 10 years. The Kansas City Star (https://bit.ly/1P3NSZ4) reports that horticulture agent Dennis Patton has described the reproduction levels as hitting “epidemic proportions.”

“It’s just the year,” added Bob Bauernfeind, Kansas State University entomologist in Manhattan. “The mites were big in 2004 and 2005, and then there were nine years in between with not a peep about them.”

The oak leaf itch mite is typically found around gall formations established on tree leaves by other insects. The mites feed on the larvae of these hatching insects.

With the coming of cooler temperatures and shorter days, the mites have been exiting the galls, Patton said. Entomologists say one tree could shed more than 370,000 of the microscopic mites in just one day.

Dermatologists at Children’s Mercy Hospital have not seen an uptick in mite bites, a spokeswoman said. But the Blue Valley School District, who does not formally track such mite bites, has reported a “slight increase” in the number of students reporting itch bites.

Patton says over-the-counter bug repellants are not effective against the mites. He recommends limiting your exposure to them by wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com


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