Kansas City is at the epicenter in the oak leaf itch mite invasion.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas City is at the epicenter in the oak leaf itch mite invasion.
Hundreds of thousands of the invisible mites are living in oak trees across the metro – and causing many residents to suffer from red, itchy bites.
Adele Wilcoxen is one of those people.
“This one is starting to blister,” she said, pointing to one of her several bites. “They are itchier than a chigger. They keep you awake at night."
The mites aren’t new to KC, but researches said this year is the worst they’ve seen.
Rick Miller, an extension agent for the K-State Research and Extension office in Johnson County, has taken hundreds of calls from people asking about the mites.
Researches first took note of the mites over a decade ago. They are believed to have originated in Kansas.
They live inside the leaves on Oak trees, and when the leaves fall or wind blows, they can land anywhere.
"This mite is so small, really about 1 in 100th of an inch, it's practically invisible to us,’ Miller explained. “You're not going to see that, you're not going to feel it bite you at the time."
When will the outbreak end? With our current fall weather forecast, not likely anytime soon.
“We're waiting for a good hard frost this winter,” Miller said. “That hard frost is eventually going to kill those mites."
In the meantime, the best thing you can do is cover your arms and legs when you’re outside, and wear a hat.
Miller also suggested showering immediately after coming inside, to cut down on your chance of exposure.
There is no real solution for relief, but Miller said people are trying everything from Benadryl to Hydrocortisone cream and Calamine lotion.
Repellents like Deet and Off may help to deter the mites.
Lexi Sutter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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