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Harvest Mites a summer problem

Sunday, 20 May 2018 01:11 AM

Harvest Mites (Chiggers)


Harvest mites can become a problematic parasite to our dogs and cats from the months of late July to early October. This is when the parasite is in it’s lava stage of it’s growth cycle and as nymphs and adults pose no problem.


You will see from the life cycle picture that the lave stage has six legs but as they develop to Nymphs and adults they have 8 legs.

The reason they are parasitic at the lava stage is due to they fact that they feed off skin cells or animals. They do this by using smallhooked fangs piercing into the skin surface, they inject powerful digestive enzymes which break down the skin cells that the larva sucks up as liquid. The mite will inject and suck at the same site for 2-3 days, until it is full and has grown 3 to 4 times in size. As nymphs and adult mites, they feed off plant matter.

The mites are microscopic and the size of a pin head but can be seen with the eye as they gather in clustered areas generally where the skin is thinnest or lacks dense hair. Often between toes and around eyes, groin.

The clusters of mites appear as orange dust as seen in the picture

The mites cause extreme itchiness for the animals they feed off and are often only spotted due the animals nibbling and scratching the areas the mites are on. The itching comes from a reaction to the digestive enzymes injected by the mites during feeding and secondary infections can be caused from the nibbling and scratching allowing bacteria to multiply and hair loss to occur. The irritation can continue for several days after the mites have dropped off.

Some parasite treatments are effective for harvest mites but not all. The most recommended treatment is frontline spray that can be used prior to your pet going out but caution must be taken not to get this in the pet’s eyes and advice from a vet is recommended for your pet’s individual needs and treatment of secondary infections

Avoiding long grassland and corn fields at these times of year will help in avoiding these mites along with walking your dog at dawn and dusk as the mites become active in the day and sunnier times. 

Belinda Morris LCGI GMG 

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