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Harvest Mites

The red bug that comes and goes !

Harvest mites have a number of aliases often called Berry bugs or Chiggers. The red/orange mite becomes a bother to pets from August to October. They are part of the tick family and are easily seen by the naked eye in clusters commonly on a pet’s ear, tummy and paws but they can infect anywhere. Irritation can start within 3 hours of infection and although some pets don’t show signs, most infected animals will show discomfort, hair loss, biting and scratching for many weeks, with the possible addition of secondary infections.

The Harvest mite is an interesting mite, as they are only a problem to our pets during the 6 legged parasitic Larva stage, unlike fleas and ticks they don’t burrow into the skin or suck blood, they feed by inserting hooked fangs into the skin and injecting an enzyme which liquefies the skin which they then feed upon. This enzyme is what causes the irritation and the effect can vary from dog to dog. Once engorged which takes around 3 days they drop off and transform into the nymph stage and spend the rest of their life on the ground as an eight-legged adult mite, leaving our pets alone which explains why they are only a nuisance for a small part of the year.

Harvest Mite Illustration

Picture credit: hobby farms.com. Julie has added blue lines and comments

Identification:
Red/orange small bumps in clusters like dust on a dog's fur.

Harvest Mite Picture
Picture credit: bordervets.co.uk

Harvest Mites on dog
Picture credit: Julie Harris Education


Prevention:
Harvest mites are active during the day, especially when it is sunny and dry. They congregate in groups on the soil, vegetation or bushes and await a passing animal or human. So dog walking at dawn and dusk when they are dormant is recommended, and keeping pets away from long grass and bushes.

Treatment:
There is no known effective treatment although parasitic shampoos and treatments help, along with physical removal of the mites with a fine comb.
Soothing treatments to deal with the irritation and support the skin is the best way to help your pet.

Julie Harris September 2020



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