Have you ever heard of oak mites? Since you’re here, we’ll assume you have. And since you’re here, we’ll also assume you already know how annoying these pests can be.
Luckily, oak mites don’t cause serious damage to our beautiful oak trees, but they do cause painful and itchy bites, breed prolifically, and spread from tree to tree rapidly.
So, how do you get rid of oak mites and how can you tend to oak mite bites? That’s what we’re here to help you find out.
But first, let’s talk a little bit more about what oak mites are, where they came from and why they’re so problematic.
What Are Oak Mites?
Oak mites are microscopic parasites closely related to spiders and ticks.
Oak mites are small, microscopic parasites. They are actually not considered insects and instead are arachnids closely related to spiders and ticks. Also known as itch mites, oak leaf gall mites, or oak tree mites, these pests are an invasive species likely originating from Europe and believed to have been brought over to the United States due to human travel.
The first reported case of Oak Mites in the US was in 2004, when a breakout of these biting pests was discovered in Kansas, Missouri, Texas and Nebraska.
Since then, oak mites have become a serious problem throughout the United States, especially during summer and fall when they mate and procreate abundantly, causing them to spread.
The trouble with oak mites is that they are incredibly difficult to get rid of. You cannot see them with the naked eye, and even if you could you would have a difficult time finding and wiping them out on your oak trees as they tend to hide in the oak galls where they feed on midge fly larvae.
If there is any silver lining to these annoying pests, it’s that they’re not particularly damaging to oak trees. However, they procreate in the hundreds of thousands and, in spite of their small size, they can deliver seriously itchy bites to people and pets.
The Life Of An Oak Mite Life
Oak mites are most common through summer and into fall, typically between the months of August and October. However, most experts describe them as living in “waves” on oak trees, rising and falling in numbers depending on the generations bred and born during different cycles.
With that being said, multiple generations can be born in a single week from an oak mite infestation, and oak mites can fall from oak trees in numbers of more than 300,000 at a time. Their small size allows them to travel in the wind, and they often get into homes through open windows or land on people sitting or walking beneath the trees.
How Oak Mites Survive And Thrive On Oak Trees
The survival of oak mites depends on a few different insects and an interesting occurrence that happens to oak trees.
First, the non stinging wasp (also known as the cynipid wasp) must lay her eggs in the tissue of an oak tree. When she does this, the oak tree reacts by developing a hard, rounded pod. This pod protects the wasp’s eggs and allows them a safe place to hatch and feed.
Once these galls are abandoned, other insects make use of them. Flying midges in particular use oak tree galls as a nesting ground to lay their eggs as well. And then the oak mites come along.
Male and female oak mites breed, and then a fertilized female oak mite makes her way into an oak gall full of midge larvae. She uses her venom to paralyze the larvae, and feeds on them until her eggs hatch.
The eggs then also feed on the larvae, growing rapidly to continue the cycle. When the oak trees get too crowded with mites or the galls on the trees become scarce of larvae, oak mites will often abandon the tree and travel to new trees in search of food.
As we mentioned above, they can fall from the trees in the hundreds of thousands, but may also be carried off by the wind.
When oak mites leave their oak trees behind, they often come into contact with humans. And this is where the trouble begins.
Oak Mite Bites
When the very first oak mite invasion was reported in the United States, it began with a number of alarmed and itchy people flocking to emergency rooms and doctor’s offices with strange welt-like rashes on their arms, necks and faces.
It wasn’t long before experts realized what was going on, and these unidentified bites were diagnosed as oak mite bites.
Because oak mites can fall from trees in such massive numbers, they can overwhelm people and even get stuck inside loose clothing and hair. You can’t see oak mites, making them even more frustrating to deal with. Worse, you may not even realize you’ve been bitten until the oak mite venom causes welts, itching and discomfort.
Oak mites can stay on your body or clothing until you wash them off. Sometimes the only way to get rid of oak mites on your body is to take a long, hot shower and scrub down with soap. It’s also important to wash your clothing in hot water.
Oak mite bites typically occur on the arms, face and neck of people, but they can occur anywhere skin is exposed. To avoid oak mite bites, experts suggest avoiding sitting beneath oak trees, especially during the summer and into early fall.
It’s also a good idea to keep your windows closed during this time to keep oak mites from making their way into your home, where they can also find their way onto your skin and bite you.
The good news about oak mite bites is that they are not dangerous. These pests are more of a nuisance pest than anything else, though their bites can be incredibly uncomfortable to those with sensitivities.
Can Oak Mites Infest My House?
Although oak mites can get into your home through open windows and doors, they cannot survive long without the midge larvae they feed on. If they do get into your home, they’ll likely not survive long.
We should also note that oak mites do not intentionally target or bite humans and pets. They do not feed on blood. In fact, they will often be on your body for up to four hours before biting you in an attempt to find food.
If you do think you may have oak mites on you, the best thing to do is remove your clothing and take a hot shower as soon as possible to avoid bites.
How To Tell If Your Oak Trees Have Oak Mites
Brown or wilted leaves and signs of tree galls like those pictured above could be a good indicator of oak mites.
Since you can’t see oak tree mites with the naked eye, you may not know you have them until you discover you have bites. However, there are a few signs you can look for early that can help alert you as to whether or not you are likely to have oak mites in your oak trees.
One of the first signs of oak tree mites in your trees are brown, crusted looking leaves. The next sign of oat mites is less visual and more physical – yes, the bites.
The rash typically occurs about 12 hours after you have been bitten and can last for up to two weeks. Most oak mite bites are commonly mistaken for chigger bites, though these bites can last up to twelve weeks and develop painful, fluid-filled heads.
Oak mites can infest any oak tree, but they prefer red oak trees and common oak trees. Another good indicator that your oak tree might have oak mites or might develop an oak mite infestation in the future is if you notice small black flies hovering around your oak trees in early fall.
These small flies are midges, and their larvae are the specific food source that oak mites feed on. If you have midges in your yard and hovering around your oak trees, you may very well wind up with oak mites in the near future.
Unfortunately, getting rid of oak mites can be difficult. Let’s talk about why below.
Why Is It So Hard To Get Rid Of Oak Mites?
Frustratingly, there’s no real way to get rid of oak mites for good.
Is it possible to get rid of oak mites completely?
The answer to this question is not as simple as yes and no. This is because oak mites get into the galls on oak trees, which makes any pesticide or insecticide you use against oak mites ineffective.
However, there are products you can use to protect your oak trees and keep wasps and midges from laying eggs on the trees and creating the galls, which in turn reduce the number of oak mites attracted to your trees.
You can also remove galls by hand if you have the time for it, and take measures to protect yourself from oak mites and their bites during the seasons they are most active.
We are going to go over a few products you can use to get rid of oak mites, but first let’s talk about how to treat oak mite bites.
How To Treat Oak Mite Bites
Oak mites can leave raised, welt-like bumps on the skin that are extremely itchy.
Treating oak mite bites can be done using some of the same common methods and products you would use to treat other bug bites like mosquito bites.
However, oak mite bites don’t develop until around 12 hours after you have been bitten. They are extremely itchy and sometimes painful, and though they are not dangerous, rigorous itching can cause secondary infections.
Sometimes oak mite bites will appear as small pimples with raised, fluid-filled heads. They can last for up to two weeks and cause incredible discomfort during this time.
It’s important to try your best not to itch oak mite bites and instead use products and remedies to care for them and alleviate itching until they go away.
If you do have oak mite bites, we have a few products you might consider using to help alleviate some of the itching and discomfort they can bring.
Mite-B-Gone Sulfur Cream Itch Relief
We like the idea of using the above sulfur cream by Mite-B-Gone for a few reasons. First, because it’s made specifically for bites like mite bites, and second because it can help alleviate and even remove mites on the skin.
We also like that this product is all natural and uses essential oils, volcanic sulfur and sunflower oil to remove mites and reduce bites.
It helps reduce itching using 10% sulfur as the active ingredient. It also helps reduce inflammation and pain, which can both come with oak mite bites. Depending on the severity of your oak mites infestation, you can order different sizes of this product.
Murphy’s Natural Insect Bite Relief Balm
Another natural product we like for soothing oak mite bites is Murphy’s Natural Insect Bite Relief Balm. This product uses all plant based and natural ingredients that include chamomile to help sooth itchy and irritated skin resulting from bug bites.
Not only will this product help alleviate oak mite bites, but it is also useful to have on hand for chigger bites, midge bites, horsefly bites, and mosquito bites. This product can come in a travel size so it’s easy to carry with you when you’re out and about.
After Bite Xtra Itch Relief
Since oak mites can pack such a nasty punch in their bite, we like the idea of investing in a bug bite ointment that is extra strength to help alleviate itching. This product is an insect bite gel that includes an antihistamine to alleviate bug bites that itch, burn and sting.
Nature’s Willow Bug Bite Balm
Last, we have another natural bug bite balm to help soothe bites from Oak Mites called Nature’s Willow. This product contains camphor and menthol to help alleviate oak mite bites, mosquito bites, chigger bites, fire ant bites, spider bites, and wasp and bee stings.
Along with being infused with camphor and menthol, this product also uses helichrysum, which helps alleviate pain. It also includes essential oils and anti-inflammatory ingredients to help soothe and calm itchy, irritated skin.
Are There Any Products For How To Get Rid Of Oak mites?
There are not a number of products available to get rid of oak mites, but there are methods you can use to help manage them.
Getting rid of oak mites is easier said than done. Right now, there are not many products, insecticides or pesticides that can work to help target and remove oak mites specifically.
With that being said, you can get rid of the oak mite’s food source, which are the larvae of the midge fly. You can also take measures to protect your oak trees from developing galls thanks to the cynipid wasp.
Some of the best products for how to prevent oak mites via protecting your trees from other pests are listed below.
Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control
Wondercide is a natural and effective pest control product you can use that is safe for people, pets and the environment. You can also spray it directly on oak trees and vegetation to prevent midges and a number of other pests including fleas, ticks, and possibly even adult oak mites.
Best of all, this insecticide spray requires no wait time when you use this product. It is made with natural ingredients like essential oils that leaves behind a pleasant scent.
Cutter Backyard Bug Control
Cutter Backyard Bug Control comes in a ready to spray concentrate and includes a hose for easier application around your yard and in your trees. This product works to kill and repel a number of pests and should be able to help reduce the numbers of midges and their larvae, which can in turn reduce the amount of oak mites you have on your property.
Each order can cover up to 5,000 square feet and the product works by being attached to your garden hose. Once sprayed, it works to control pests for up to 12 weeks.
However, be sure to use this product only as directed as it does contain chemical ingredients that can be harmful to children and pets.
Home Remedies For Oak Mites Control And Oak Mite Bites
Putting fresh lemon on an oak mite bite can help quickly alleviate itching and pain.
Because there are currently no real products or methods you can use to keep oak mites at bay permanently, there are also no real home remedies that you can use either.
However, there are things you can do to try and repel oak mites and there are some forms of do it yourself pest control methods and recipes we can share to help alleviate oak mite bites.
Use Essential Oils To Repel Midges From Oak Trees
As we discussed above, getting rid of oak mites is more about preventing them by preventing midges and wasps from laying eggs on the oak trees they are attracted to. You can use some essential oils to get rid of oak mites naturally by making your own spray at home.
The best essential oils for how to get rid of oak mites include oils like:
- Lavender Oil
- Eucalyptus Oil
- And Citronella oil
To make your own spray to repel midges and keep them from laying eggs on your oak trees, simply combine two cups of water and 10 to 20 drops of one of (or a combination of) the above essential oils of your choice.
Mix the solution thoroughly and then spray this solution around your oak trees and directly on the leaves.
However, while this home remedy for preventing midges and subsequently oak mites can help, it will not be 100% effective. This is especially because spraying a massive oak tree completely with an essential oil solution can be nearly impossible, especially if you are trying to do it alone.
Remove Oak Tree Galls By Hand
This is a tedious yet effective method you can use to help reduce the number of oak mites you have on your oak trees. Removing galls from oak trees also removes midge larvae and the “nest” essentially for other pests.
When you do remove these galls, wear appropriate clothing to avoid getting bitten by oak mites while you work and be sure to throw the galls away in a sealed plastic bag. Then shower immediately after and be sure to wash your clothes in warm or hot water.
Try Using Apple Cider Vinegar And Dish Soap To Kill Midges
Apple cider vinegar can work to kill midges and in turn reduce the number of larvae in your trees. To attract them away from your oak trees, place open bowls of vinegar in your yard with a few drops of dish soap.
The midges will be attracted to the vinegar but then drown due to the dish soap. Like using essential oils, using apple cider vinegar and liquid dish soap will not be able to remove midges and therefore reduce oak mites completely, but it can help to control them.
Use Home Remedies To Soothe Itchy Oak Mite Bites
If you’re in a pinch and need instant relief from oak mite bites, there are a few household ingredients you can use immediately on your oak mite bites to help soothe them and reduce itching.
Fresh lemon can help to relieve itchy bug bites from oak mites, mosquitoes, chiggers and more. The fresh, citrus scent of lemon can also help repel other pests from biting in the near future while it’s on your skin.
Aloe vera can also help soothe itchy oak mite bites, as can baking soda and crushed fresh garlic. For painful, itchy bites, we recommend applying ice to the bumps to help numb and soothe them.
Expert Tips On How To Prevent Oak Mites And Oak Mite Bites
Take care when gardening near oak trees and wear tight fitting, long sleeved clothing as well as gloves and a hat.
Unfortunately, there are not yet many effective ways to completely prevent oak mites from coming around. However, there are methods you can use to protect yourself and your loved ones from bites and to help reduce the numbers of oak mites, as well as the pests they feed on.
First, Wear Long Sleeves When Outside Near Oak Trees
When you know you have oak mites in your oak trees, take care to avoid sitting beneath oak trees, walking beneath oak trees, or gardening near them if you’re not wearing protective clothing.
Long, tight fitting clothing can help keep you from getting bitten, and if you’re gardening near an oak tree try and ensure you wear gloves and a hat.
Use A Year-Round Pest Control ProductTo Help Reduce Oak MItes
Since there are many products that work to control midges, your best course of action to get rid of oak mites is to focus on removing and preventing midges and midge fly larvae.
The best way to do this is to use a year-round pest control regimen like one of the above products listed. You might also consider contacting a professional to come and spray down your oak trees to help repel midges and keep wasps from laying their eggs in the tissue of the trees which creates oak tree galls and attracts midges.
Keep Doors and Windows Closed During Summer and Fall
Although oak mites don’t invade homes on purpose, they can accidentally enter your home through open doors or windows, as we have mentioned above. Because they’re so small, even screened windows may not be enough to keep oat mites from getting inside your home.
Take care to keep windows and doors closed if you have oak trees nearby, especially on windy days. Oak mites can easily ride the wind into your home and many can get inside at once. This could lead to irritating bites and discomfort until the mites die.
Take A Hot Shower After Spending Time Outside Near Oak Trees
Last but not least, one of the most effective methods you can use to reduce bites from oak mites is to wash your clothing and shower after being outside or near oak trees. Once oak mites land on you, they typically do not bite right away. This means that you do have a window of time to get them off of you.
Hot water and soap are all you need to ensure you get these pests off of your skin.
We obviously wish there were more options available for how to get rid of oak mites. Oak mites may be an incredible nuisance, but they are luckily not dangerous and do not cause significant damage to your oak trees.
Hopefully this has been a helpful guide on oak mites and you have a better idea as to how to protect yourself and your loved ones from oak mite bites as well as reduce their numbers around your oak trees.
If you have any tips or tricks that have worked for you when it comes to oak mites or oak mite bites, feel free to share them with our readers in the comment section below.
Best of luck and thanks for reading!