- STRAW ITCH MITE BIOLOGY
- STRAW ITCH MITE MIGRATIONS
- STRAW ITCH MITE BITES
- STRAW ITCH MITE INVASION
- STRAW ITCH MITE NEST SITES
- STRAW ITCH MITE BITE OINTMENT
- STRAW ITCH MITE REPELLENT
- STRAW ITCH MITE CONTROL GRANULES
- STRAW ITCH MITE CONTROL SPRAY
- STRAW ITCH MITE CONTROL INDOORS
- STRAW ITCH MITE CONTROL AEROSOL
- STRAW ITCH MITE CONTROL DUST
Straw Itch Mites are a very small parasitic mite which lives on the larva and adults of other small insects. They attach themselves to the host insect and feed off their bodily fluids. Such host insects are typically some type of stored product pest like rice weevils, sawtooth grain beetles, flour moths, flour beetles or bean weevils just to name a few. However, Straw Itch Mites can live on other types of insects as well including roaches and powder post beetles. The author suspects the list of insects which are known to harbor Straw Itch Mites is small compared to the list of insects which they actually infest. This is probably happening because Straw Itch Mites are generally never noticed and only when they turn their attention to people or pets do we ever recognize their existence. In most cases the straw itch mite populations are killed off when pest control is done to control their host. As the host pest dies off so to do the itch mites. For this reason there is an undoubtedly longer list of insects on which straw itch mites can live.
STRAW ITCH MITE BIOLOGY
Straw Itch Mites are fascinating creatures. They are small; so small are Itch Mites they are invisible to the naked eye. Straw Itch Mites are parasitic. They live on bodily fluids of other insects and will occupy the same nest sights including boxes, cabinets, furniture, clothing, carpeting, mulch, crawl spaces, insulation, turf, wall voids and just about anywhere insects are found to live. Though stored product pests – pests which typically feed on grain and wheat products – are the primary pest Itch Mites are thought to attack, there is overwhelming evidence to support the theory that they can live off most anything that crawls or flies. Adult itch mites will typically crawl onto any larva of a host insect and females will immediately start to produce eggs.
Though it was once thought their life was but one day, many experts now believe they probably live for several days during which time females will produce 200-300 eggs. The egg producing has two key characteristics which make the development of the itch mite both unique and persistent. First, females will start to lay eggs immediately upon finding a target host and has started to feed. She will do this whether a male has inseminated her or not. Second, her young will develop inside her and go through all stages of development before they ever hatch! Only when they are fully mature will they emerge and at this time they are ready to eat and reproduce! This whole process usually only takes a day when temperatures are ideal which is about 70-80 degrees. As they emerge, they will immediately start migrating to other members of the host’s nest. It is during such times that itch mites make themselves known to people and pets.
STRAW ITCH MITE MIGRATIONS
As the itch mite population grows while feeding on it’s hosts, there will either be enough in the host colony to support the increasing itch mites or else the mites will migrate in search of another host. When such migration occurs in the home or yard, the itch mites will become a very major pest to both people and pets. Though they don’t attack for blood, itch mites eat flesh and pierce the skin of people and pets seeking bodily fluids. It is very common to find itch mites in pine straw or wood chips used for mulch. Many homeowners have brought such mulching materials home only to get bit once they start setting it out!
STRAW ITCH MITE BITES
The bite of an itch mite can cause a wheal or pustule to form and will generally itch. Since itch mites cannot be seen, they are not detected until one has been bitten many times. Reactions to being bit are usually pretty immediate and though not life threatening, itch mites will cause a great deal of discomfort, swelling, redness of the skin, itching, blotches and other reactions which most people would guess could have happened from a mosquito, chigger, bedbug or flea. What makes these mites frustrating is that you generally don’t know they’re present until you start being bit. However, there are several scenarios which can lead to a quick outbreak of itch mites that happen around most any home.
First, on the outside of the home, there are several common ways itch mites can become active.
1) Pine straw is a common carrier. This is because pine borers are common hosts for itch mites. Pine borers live in and on pine trees and will readily support a population of straw itch mites. Consequently, pine straw which is harvested for mulch will invariably have some batches that are filled with itch mites. These batches are then transported to the local nursery from which unsuspecting customers pile them into their pickups and Suv’s. Only when they get home and start setting out the straw do they find out just what else they brought home.
2) Wheat straw or hay commonly carries itch mites as well. This is due to the wide range of grain beetles and weevils which readily feed on wheat and other products on farms where wheat is harvested. Baled wheat will include the itch mites which then are brought to homes as the wheat is used in lawns, for seasonal landscaping, for animals quarters or for animal food.
3) Wood chips almost always have some type of boring wood beetle itch mites will readily prey upon. Though such mulch is desirable to pine straw because it will last longer, the accompanying itch mites which are sometimes included are never expected or wanted!
STRAW ITCH MITE INVASION
In the home, itch mites have many paths or ways to infiltrate. Though the most common way is through pantries, garages and living areas are just as likely a route.
1) Pantry pests are the most common host for itch mites and just about any stored food product available at the grocery store can harbor pantry insects. With these insects come the itch mites. As the pantry pests move about and relocate leaving the food supply on which they arrive, so too do the itch mites. Typically someone will start getting bit which is the first sign the itch mites are migrating. More common is the activity which follows pantry pest treatments. Such treatments are essential to solving the pantry pest infestation but will many times lead to an itch mite breakout.
2) Garage and laundry room infestations can occur because people are now more inclined than ever to have quantities of lawn and bird seed. These seed containers are even more likely to have some type of stored product pest like sawtooth beetles or flour beetles. Itch mites will live on such insects and readily forage about as their population increases leading to encounters with occupants of the home.
3) Pets like horses, rabbit, hamsters and other animals which have pens or areas where straw or some type of bedding is available all present common locations where populations begin. Many times such bedding harbors the itch mite and upon installation the mites will start to forage looking for a quick meal. Though the pet may be the first to get bit, many times they don’t let their owners know what is happening until the mites have moved out and about. Common areas for this to happen or in barns, kennels, cages, sleeping areas and crawl spaces.
4) Furniture is another common nest sight of itch mites because itch mites will regularly feed on wood beetles like the powder post beetle. Carpet beetles, Khapra beetles and Cigarette beetles are some of the common hosts which will regularly feed on fabric and itch mites will attack them as well. Once established on the fabric of furniture, itch mites will be able to find people quickly.
STRAW ITCH MITE NEST SITES
Carpeting, pet bedding, mattresses, wall voids where insects or animals have been living, attics, groceries from the store, clothing, landscape supplies and other objects which are generally brought home can all serve as vectors on which itch mites can arrive. If you suspect itch mites are present in or around the home, there are many ways you can go about treating such infestations to quickly knock them out and stop the biting.
STRAW ITCH MITE BITE OINTMENT
Itch mite bites are painful. They not only hurt, they itch. If you have some, apply our ITCH OINTMENT for fast relief. It will first take the itch away and then promote faster and healthy healing. This product will work on fireant stings as well and is great to have when camping or out in the field where chiggers and other biting pests are present.
STRAW ITCH MITE REPELLENT
If you don’t have bites yet and want to prevent getting any, treat your clothing with some PERMETHRIN AEROSOL. This product will provide a full day of protection and will stop ticks, mosquitoes and chiggers from landing as well as itch mites. It is easy to use, won’t stain, has no odor and is safe for people and pets. Use it on your clothing just prior to going out in the yard to work with straw or hay where itch mites have been active. For skin protection, apply some DEET LOTION or MAXI DEET.
STRAW ITCH MITE CONTROL GRANULES
If you already have activity in a mulch pile, wood chips or flower bed, there are a few things which can be done to take care of them quickly. First, apply some DELTA GUARD GRANULES over such areas. This granule is both odorless and very effective on itch mites and whatever insect they may be feeding on. Apply the granules with one of our SPREADERS over key areas like flower beds, mulch piles, pine straw beds or animal runs. The good thing about the granules is that they will last a long time. Generally one application will last 1-2 months and maybe longer. However, they need to be watered to activate them so apply them just before a rain or run the sprinkler over treated areas following the application.
STRAW ITCH MITE CONTROL SPRAY
If you want to go for the best control in turf areas, apply some of the Delta Guard but then don’t water them in with just water. Instead, spray over the top with some PERMETHRIN. This is the same no odor active as what’s in the can for clothing. However, this is much more concentrated and will provide an instant kill of both host insects and itch mites. This may be desired – especially when the populations are either large or in close proximity to where people and/or pets are active. Permethrin is very safe and people and pets can enter treated areas as soon as treated areas have dried. What’s more, you won’t have to water the granules since the water used for the application of the Permethrin will work to activate them. Apply the Permethrin with one of our SPRAYERS for proper coverage over targeted areas.
STRAW ITCH MITE CONTROL INDOORS
Treating inside may be needed when itch mites have been identified and found to be active. Activity generally starts when migrating itch mites start finding people or when other insects (hosts to the itch mites) have been treated and the itch mites are forced to aggressively find an alternative food supply as detailed in an earlier segment of this article. Where the itch mites are active has a lot to do with what product to use. For living areas, there are two primary options.
STRAW ITCH MITE CONTROL AEROSOL
First, there is a no odor aerosol which is ideal for treating small areas like furniture, cabinets, carpets, and other surfaces on which Itch Mites may be present. Simply take the cap off and start spraying lightly over areas where activity has been found. PT-MICROCARE uses Pyrethrin as the active ingredient and is very safe around mammals like people, dogs and cats. The unique formulation of the Micro Care is that the Pyrethrin are encased in tiny capsules which allow them to be time released. This time released design enables the pyrethrin to do it’s job for several weeks or more. The one draw back of pyrethrin is that it breaks down within a few hours of when it is applied which means you have to use ordinary sprays with pyrethrin over and over. However, PT-Microcare will last a lot longer so one application will provide good residual protection.
Another good aerosol to consider is FLYING INSECT KILLER. This is a stronger product then the Microcare and it does have an odor but it has a couple of differences that may make it a better choice. First, it uses a different active ingredient – one which is less likely to cause “itchy” reactions that people can experience following treatments with Pyrethrin like the Microcare uses. Second, this product is water based. If you intend on treating a lot indoors, you must be careful where you spray the Microcare since it may have a reaction on certain surfaces. Flying Insect Killer won’t have any such reaction; its water base can be sprayed on virtually any surface so it can be used in these areas with less worry.
If you have a large area to treat, get some of the liquid PERMETHRIN which was detailed in the above section about what to use outside. This same active is what you would want to use in the home if you have several floors to treat. Using the concentrate is much more effective and cost efficient since it will cover a much larger area. Use one of the SPRAYERS we feature like the 1 or 3 gallon models. Use either the Microcare or the Permethrin on furniture, carpeting, bedding, mattresses and any other place where itch mites have been found active. Neither product has an odor and neither will present any risk or hazard to non-target animals like children and pets. Just keep them away during the application and until treatments dry and they can safely come back to treated rooms.
STRAW ITCH MITE CONTROL DUST
If it turns out the itch mites are active in attics, crawl spaces or wall voids, you will need to use a dry formulation called DELTAMETHRIN DUST. This dust is much like Talc Powder. It will float around and blanket such voids providing long term control which will last 6-12 months on average whether used in attics or crawl spaces. Apply it to wall voids around electric outlets and switch plate covers since many pests will enter via these passageways. Light fixtures can also be a problem entry point needing treatment. Use a HAND DUSTER to apply the dust and clean up any left behind falling out of voids with some soap and water.
If you have large areas needing treatment like attics, use a DUSTIN MIZER to get good coverage. It will blow the dust 20-30 feet and allows the applicator to get complete coverage without having to risk walking over ceilings or into dark dirty crawl spaces. Since itch mites can live in such environments for long periods of time, the extra long protection provided by the dust is a big advantage. Also, it works on just about any other pest so it will control ants, roaches, silverfish, wasps, spiders and just about anything that would want to live in such areas.
If it turns out the itch mites have found their way to clothing and/or bedding, simply wash it in hot water with KLEEN FREE. This product is generally used as a laundry detergent additive when lice are being addressed but it works just as good on itch mites. Be sure to treat the areas where the washed clothing or fabric is kept or stored so it won’t get reinfested.
Straw Itch Mites can be a terrible nuisance once the have found their way into the home. If you have had encounters with them while hiking or camping, use some of the Ointment for quick relief of the itch and discomfort from their bites. Keep them off altogether by treating clothing with some Permethrin Aerosol which will effectively repel them. If activity is noted around the home, treat with some Delta Guard Granules and spray over the top with Permethrin for quick knockdown of the population. If they have surfaced in the home, use PT-Microcare for small applications and Permethrin concentrate for large or whole house treatments. Wash infested clothes and/or bedding with some Kleen Free to insure they don’t continue to thrive on fabric.