Summary: Itch mites are tiny little parasites that feed on larvae and other small insects. The itch mites tend to recede as their host insects die off.
Mites are closely related to spiders and ticks. This article will focus on the straw mite which typically feeds off of bugs that live off of stored food products, especially grain. In some cases the mites are actually beneficial because they attack insects that feed on stored grain and similar materials.
Straw itch mites have a very short life cycle, but they do a lot of damage in the process. The female itch mite will crawl onto bug larvae and immediately start laying her eggs. Room temperature serves as the best condition for straw itch mites to reproduce. She usually lays a couple hundred eggs in less than a day. The itch mite offspring are fascinating because they go through all the stages of growth before the mother even hatches them. The offspring emerge as full-grown straw itch mites.
Straw itch mites can become a huge problem for humans and their pets. If they cannot find a host, they will go in search of one. They are frequently a problem for people doing landscaping or feeding horses and other livestock.
The mites are actually beneficial because they attack insects that feed on stored grain and similar materials, but when they go after humans, dogs, or cats, they often bite and produce an itching reaction. The small bump caused by an itch mite bite is red with white in the center. The bites of straw itch mites are characteristically found on the trunk of the body and on the arms. The bite is similar to that of a mosquito, so it may be hard to recognize which type of pest is biting you.
Straw itch mites are very good at hiding out in piles of mulch and pine straw. One easy way to avoid an infestation of straw itch mites or their hosts is to move mulch and logs away from the siding or foundation of your home or shed. Keeping these hideouts close to your home is practically an invitation for many types of pest infestations.
The reason pine straw is so attractive to the straw itch mite is because pine borers tend to live off of the straw and itch mites live off of the borers. So, if you have pine trees in your backyard, watch out for both of these pests.
Hay and wheat straw are also breeding grounds for straw itch mites. The itch mites feed off of the larvae of grain beetles that eat wheat straw. If you use hay in your yard or feed your animals hay, watch out for itch mites.
Because straw itch mites love grain products, you may find them lurking in any grains you have stored in your pantry or cupboard. Now, you really have an excuse to get your kids to stop eating those sugary Lucky Charms.
Here are some other places in your home where straw itch mites may be living:
¢ Any place you store birdseed such as your garage or shed. Flour beetles love birdseed and yard fertilizer and straw itch mites love flour beetles.
¢ Hamster, gerbil, or guinea pig cages. If you have straw bedding for these pets, you may get straw itch mites in your home. A good way to avoid any infestation from spreading is to look on the skin of your pet for any small bumps that resemble bug bites.
¢ Furniture. Straw itch mites will feed on the larvae of carpet beetles and powder post beetles that thrive on the wood and fabric of furniture.
How to deter straw itch mites:
¢ If you know you will be working with straw, hay, or any other place you suspect straw itch mites may be active, spray an insect repellent like DEET on your clothing and skin.
¢ Treat storage areas with Talstar Pro to eliminate host insects.