Tiny mites found in Central Kansas

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PRATT, Kan. (KSNW) — Fall is here and leaves are falling.

If you’re out raking leaves this fall, you might want to make sure you’re covered from head to toe — especially if you have an oak tree.

Eastern Kansas cities continue to see oak itch mites, but these little critters have finally made their way to Central Kansas — which is pretty rare. Pratt has seen several reports of them.

“The last time we’d had them was back in 2015, and this is the first year that we’ve had back to back oak itch mites,” said Matt Ploger, Pratt County extension agent.

Ploger said you can tell when a leaf has been infested with the mites. The end of the leaf curls.

The oak mites are microscopic, so you can’t tell if they’re on your skin, until after they bite. If you have bites, Ploger recommended not scratching them, but showering with soap and water. Scratching will only lead to a burning sensation.

Ploger told KSN prevention is key with these bugs.

“Wear long sleeves, rubber gloves, especially if you’re raking up the leaves and stuff this fall,” he said.

Oak itch mites can still get on gloves and other clothing, so make sure to wash anything that has been around an oak tree.

Entomologists don’t know exactly why oak mites show up, but Ploger said it could be weather related.

“I think the reason why is because we had such a mild winter last year, and they just…over winter grow well,” he said.

Researchers don’t know how long the mites will be here, but Ploger said they’re hoping they come back next winter so they can finally learn more about them.

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