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Harvest Mites - An Itchy Problem

Sad though it may be, we are now heading in to autumn. What does this mean for our dogs? Well this is the time of year that we get lots of calls about dogs going frantic, scratching or biting at their paws, and developing red lumps.

Have a close look at the itchy areas - usually where the skin is thinnest or near to the grass. Most common places are the tummy, groin, and around the paws. See if there are little raised lumps usually with a little hard crust on top. Sometimes there may be small oozing spots with intense irritation.

At this time of the year these symptoms are most commonly due to an infestation of harvest mites. These little pests also affect humans, and you may also find you are itching around your legs with these same little red lumps.

Harvest Mites

There are several mite species that may annoy animals and humans directly, especially during the late summer and autumn. They tend to be found in areas of grassland and cornfields.

Their larvae have various local names such as:

  • Harvest mites
  • Harvest bugs
  • Harvesters
  • Berry bugs
  • Bracken bugs
  • Chiggers
  • in Ireland, Orange-tawneys

the minute, reddish larvae, which are the size of a pin head, suck the lymph and blood of humans and other mammals.

They puncture the skin and inject a substance that dissolves the skin tissue to form a kind of feeding-tube. Their bites produce small spots that itch intensely and are often called 'heat-spots'.

Dogs may be considerably annoyed by these larvae, which attack them between the toes, on the tummy and the groin areas. The itching can last for days to weeks. Once fully developed the larvae turn into nymphs, which later become adult mites. Neither the nymphs nor the adults suck blood and both these more mature stages are quite harmless.


  • We have found "Thornit" to be effective against mites. It is a remedy that we generally use for ear mites, but it also seems to be very effective for a variety of mites. Thornit is a powder that is based on Iodoform - an old fashioned dental product. The powder can be lightly dusted on to the itchy areas, or in to itchy ears. Relief usually comes within 2-5 days. In numerous situations where a dog has been suffering from continual skin itching or paw biting, anti-biotic and anti-inflammatory treatment has given only temporary relief. Thornit has been seen to be a much more effective long-term relief in many cases.
  • Try shampooing your dog regularly with Dorwest "Pennyroyal Shampoo". The Pennyroyal plant has a strong minty aroma and has been used since Roman times to ward off insects and mites. In olden times people used to place it on their floor and on their beds to repel parasites. Dorwest have incorporated it in to a pleasant, gentle shampoo that can be use on all coat types and for puppies and kittens
  • Reduce the irritation and repel parasitic mites, Denes have prepared a natural "Mite Cream " containing the essential oils, Cedarwood and Sweet Flag. Cedarwood has soothing properties, and Sweetflag essential oil is used as an insect repellent and insecticide. It is also effective against houseflies and is said to repel mosquitoes.

All of the products can be bought immediately and delivered to your door. Just [click here] to go to the section you need.

We hope your dogs aren't bugged, bitten or bothered by mites!

Please ring us if you have any questions, or see our website

Carol Martin (AACC)
Edmiston House
Tel: 01387 860322

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