What Are Oak Mites?
Oak mites are microscopic insects found in the leaves of oak trees. The mites ordinarily feed on fly larvae in leaves of Pin Oaks and Red Oaks. Leaves containing oak mites will appear brown with crusty edges. The mites multiply rapidly and when they run out of food, they can start to bite humans. Bites leave itchy, raised spots on the skin and are sometimes confused with chigger bites. Bites are usually found around the head, neck, and upper body, and can last up to two weeks. Oak mites have been found in Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Pennsylvania since 2004. They usually bite in the late summer/early fall (between August and October) and will die and stop biting after the first frost. Oak mites can be carried through the air and even pass through screens.1
Oak Mite Prevention
The best way to prevent oak mite bites is to stay away from trees. There are mixed results from the use of DEET-containing insect repellant.1 Additionally, wear long sleeves and hats while working outside. It is not necessary to remove oak trees from your yard, because oak mites can live in many kinds of trees and can travel on the wind. Because of this, keep your windows and doors closed in the August through October months. Oak mites can stay on your body for several hours after they land. Wearing gloves when working with leaves, washing clothes, and showering immediately upon getting in from working outdoors can help prevent bites.2