The harvest mites or chiggers are six-legged larva which are present on dense vegetation throughout the UK and are active during the day, especially when it is dry and sunny. When they come into contact with any warm blooded animal they insert their small hooked fangs into the surface layers of the skin, and inject a fluid to break down the cells in order to suck the animals blood. They appear as red dust on the animal like paprika on the face, legs, abdomen or any area where there is little fur.They will inject and suck for two to three days at the same site until it has increased in size three to four times causing considerable itching and discomfort to the animal. The larva then drops off, descends into the soil and after about six weeks becomes an eight-legged nymph and then an adult which eats plants and small insects. Eggs laid by the adult in the spring and summer hatch into the six-legged larva (known as harvest mites) and the cycle starts again.
In humans harvest mite bites show as small inflamed pimples and in cats the mites cause reddening of the skin, papules and crusted areas.
Walk your dog early in the morning when the harvest mites are less active and keep him out of the long grass. Some infestations will cause hair loss and continual scratching can damage the skin resulting is bacterial infections.
Frontline or virbac Effipro spray prescribed by your veterinarian can be used weekly on areas seen in conjunction with routine flea treatment. Animals that are hypersensitive to Harvest mites can be prescribed a short course of steroid until the mites have reduced in number.link