Tiny mites = BIG Itch!
Pyemotes itch mites are tiny, nearly microscopic
mites that normally feed on a variety of insects, not on
us. If, however, they happen to get on us these mites
can inflict bites that are red, swollen and intensely
itchy (see photo right). The redness and irritation can
last for days but is not otherwise dangerous.
Bites from pyemotes mites tend to happen in very
specific situations, the mites DO NOT infest homes.
Bites most often occur when we come into contact with
insects that are infested with these mites. For
example, a condition called "straw itch"
occurs when people who handle straw, such as when
feeding livestock, develop an itchy rash from the
pyemotes mites that are infesting the insects living in
In another example, a few years ago people in several
mid-western states developed a mysterious itchy, red
rash after working outdoors. Investigators found that
the rash was caused by bites from pyemotes mite that
were infesting the insects that make oak leaf galls, the
condition is now called "oak leaf gall itch".
Affected people had worked under oak trees which
"rained" mites from their infested leaves - mystery
Rash caused by pyemotes itch
mite bites. Photo: CDC, A. Broce, L. Zurek,
Kansas State Univ.