What are Harvest Mites?
The harvest mite (Trombicula autumnalis) is a small orange coloured mite that can cause skin irritation of dogs, cats and other animals.
During their life cycle the mite goes through 4 stages: egg, larva, nymph and adult. It is the larval stage that can be found on animals.
Do they bite?
They do not suck blood or bite but feed on dead skin cells. They can however cause severe irritation and itching, possibly due to the fact that they produce and excrete a digestive enzyme to break down the skin cells.
Some animals may show an allergic or hypersensitive reaction to the mites and react even more strongly.
When are Harvest Mites a problem?
Harvest mites are mostly a problem in the late summer months. They hatch out from their eggs in grass and other low vegetation and then crawl onto the host animal.
They are often found between the toes of cats and dogs and sometimes around the ears, this being more common in cats. Each mite is about 0.4mm so nearly microscopic, but when clusters of mites are present they can be seen as bright orange dots.
The mites are quite resistant to most anti-parasite treatments, but can be treated with application of Frontline Spray applied directly to the affected areas once a week. Sometimes it is also necessary to give the animal steroids or anti-histamines to reduce the skin irritation. If the skin is broken then antibiotic treatment may be necessary to treat secondary bacterial infection.