Floods and Mites


99 in the Shade

3:30 am - massive water leak in our house, specifically, in our coat closet (suit jackets, winter coats, some of which may be ruined, some just need drying). Turned out to be several leaks from a main air conditioning duct (looks poorly sealed). No solution yet (could be a blocked drain, or other causes), but since sleep was intermittent, our day's labors will be too.

Itch Mite

As a bonus, D was bitten twice by the soon-to-infamous oak leaf gall mite, Pyemotes herfsi (or similar), over the weekend, leaving two large welts on her lower back, red, and itchy.

Mite Bite


“We don't have positive identification on the type of mite that it is. We do know that it is a mite,” said Kitty Loewy, spokeswoman for the Cook County Department of Public Health.

Scientists haven't been able to catch one yet—they are incredibly small—but the belief that mites have invaded Illinois is based on the telltale rash that develops after the bites.

Experts say the suspected mite probably is new to the area, joining a rogues' gallery of gnawing, invasive bugs that include the Asian tiger mosquito and the Asian ladybird beetle, all recent and probably permanent residents thanks to an increasingly interconnected world of shipping and transportation.
Still, investigators seemed to be narrowing in on an invasive variety of itch mite from Europe—the oak leaf gall mite, Pyemotes herfsi—a close relative of the straw itch mite. It feeds on midge larvae in oak trees, but happily falls onto unsuspecting people passing by when it runs out of food. It can blow in the wind and land far away. On people, it probes and chews and causes powerfully itchy reactions to a potent toxin in its saliva.

and if this is what it is like to be an entomologist, no thanks!

For the last three years, scientists in Kansas and Nebraska have studied its life cycle and behavior, said James A. Kalisch, an entomologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

It seems to emerge and thrive from late summer until early winter. The mite uses a powerful neurotoxin in its saliva to paralyze and kill soft-skinned critters as large as caterpillars. To humans, the bites aren't toxic, but they are devilishly itchy—something Kalisch discovered after dabbing some mites into the damp crook of his arm to see what would happen.

Within 24 hours, he said, it grew itchy, then slightly painful, as if bruised. He got a mild fever and a tinge of headache. The worst of it took four days to develop and more than a week to blow over.

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Tribune 8/17/07

“As soon as we get it, we'll try to identify them,” said the specialist, James Kalisch, an entomologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who co-wrote a study on a form of Pyemotes mite blamed for a 2004 rash outbreak in Kansas and Nebraska.

Once received, identification would take “not long at all,” he said. The samples were expected to arrive in Nebraska Friday, Kalisch said.

As the identification process continued, state health officials sought to reassure scratching masses in the Chicago area that mites pose no known health threat beyond itchiness.

No one should change their plans for summer recreation because of the mystery, said Kitty Loewy, spokeswoman for the Cook County Department of Public Health.

Earlier this week, Cook County health officials offered advice for avoiding the mites that included wearing skin lotion, using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants.

They also suggested avoiding thick weeds and heavy foliage, especially during evening hours.


i have been fighting a rash since i had poison oak in july, 2007. i have bites on my ankles,wrists and arms. i went to my doctor he diagnosed it as an allergy. i just found out that it could be oak leaf gall mite bites. i have three oak trees right next to my house, many of the leaves are on the ground, and i come in contact with them daily. i have a new breakout of the rash daily, noticeably after i go to bed. can these mites live on you are stay in your bed? i just read about how to help prevent the mites, but they must really like me, because they haven't let up since i got them. i have been raking them and picking them up and putting the leaves in bags. but i won't be from now on, since i know this might be what the rash is. the doctor prescribed a steroid cream to apply three times a day. any other suggestions would be appricated.

central illinois resident

Connie, did you ever get rid of the biting mites?

Mites can indeed live and reproduce in your mattress; however, there appears to be controversy over whether or not mites can actually live for very long on humans. Most "specialists" say they will go away or die after a short period.

I am currently battling bird mites that entered our house two months ago and I still wake up with new bites each day. I've tried all sorts of techniques (including moving out for awhile) to erradicate them to no avail. I'm just wondering how long they'll be staying.

I appreciate your response - and/or anyone else's.

My partner and I live in Sydney Australia.

We have been getting bitten by mysterious 'somethings' mites I suspect that as we can not see, we dont feel it when they bite, you only know you have been bitten as it feels a lot like a mosquito bite itch.

It is soooo very itchy and welts come up in different sizes very randomly. Its particularly bad on my right outer elbow and upper arm, it looks also Like I may have had a reaction, allergic one to the bites as I have what looks like hives (sort of red blotches) coming up next to the bites.

We live in a small apartment, we have mosquito netting on the windows have vacuumed like never before, and spray the vents and other corners of the flat in the mornings before work, this seemed to help a little but yesterday we went for our jog down to our local park for an hour where there are tonnes of massive trees and some are oak type trees, that night the bites returned almost as bad as they did a few weeks ago, so Im thinking it must be something in
the park - trees. They must be microscopic as we have searched high and low and found nothing!!!

Does anyone know what treatment works to get rid of what I suspect are microscopic mites. I think vacuuming and spraying did have an effect, but it seems that after we visited the park again, they came back biting us again.

So sadly no more park for a while,I will have to go to the gym, in the meantine I cant wear short sleaves (and its summer) because my arm looks terrible.

Anyone know what to do about this???

I went to the doctor he wasnt that helpful, prescribed some cortisone cream, I dont think it was very good at all, I prefer natural remedies and found that a slice of cold lemon rubbed on the itch helps, as does tea tree oil. Antihistamine tablets helped some.

Im hoping with winter coming on the problem will go away.After doing more than 4 hours research online in total there I found out there is some thing called an "itch mite" that IS microscopic and lives in oak trees. What to do about the problem though? NO one seems to know that much about them.

This is getting really stressful and frustrating, any help is appreciated.

Sydney Gal.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on August 15, 2007 7:58 AM.

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