MANHATTAN (KSNT) — We all know that familiar irritation, it’s the prime time of year for those itchy bug bites to start showing up, and this year there’s a pest making things even worse: Oak Mites.
By now you’ve probably heard about the itchy infestation plaguing the sunflower state, but most people still don’t know that much about them. That’s why KSNT News went to an insect expert, to find out all the dirty details about the tiny mite.
As it turns out, the mite is nothing new, but it’s been a decade since they last made an appearance.
So why all of a sudden are they so bad again? Some blame the wet year others say the mites like to eat the remains of those 17-year cicadas… But there’s no evidence to back it up.
“I don’t think anybody can tell you why, some things just happen,” said Bob Bauernfeind, a Professor of Entomology at Kansas State University.
Bauernfeind says little research is available on the mites because no one knows when or where they’ll show up.
So they’re hard to track and incredibly irritating. One bite can leave you with a blister like you won’t want to pop.
So what can you do to avoid being bit?
Well, there’s no great answer for that either.
Regular bug spray isn’t enough to repel those mites, and just avoiding big oak trees doesn’t guarantee
“There is a way if you want to barricade yourself in the house,” said Bauernfeind.
The mites fall with the leaves of the trees and become airborne, so there’s no telling how far they will spread.
“With any kind of a wind current this is going to carry them and then they’re so small that if you happen to want the nice night breeze you might be having them come through your screening,” said Bauernfeind.
That’s not to say every single mite that lands on you will bite, or that you’ll even have a reaction, but there is one thing you can do to help, “Maybe you’ve been outside, if you go in the house, take a shower wash the mite off, they say put your clothes in the laundry,” said Bauernfeind.
Even then there’s no guarantee.
The only good news the mites won’t be around forever, and there’s no telling how many years it will be until they come back again.
If you do get bitten by an oak mite we’re told some calamine lotions and cortisone creams can give some relief.