Oak-Leaf Mites: The Aftermath of Brood X

Good News: the Brood X cicadas are mostly gone from the DC area!

Bad News:  they left us an entirely new nuisance to deal with…

A couple of months ago, we wrote about cicada oviposition and what it means for your trees. Now that cicadas have lain their eggs and moved on from the area, we are seeing the possible emergence of a new pest: the Oak-leaf mite.

What are Oak-leaf mites?

Oak-leaf mites are microscopic pests that feed on – you guessed it – cicada eggs. Just in the past week, we’ve received multiple calls from concerned homeowners who have noticed these pests hanging around their yards and causing painful, itchy welts on exposed skin.

Unfortunately, we are unable to treat for oak leaf mites, as they are invisible to the naked eye and are airborne. They also do not cause any known issues to tree health.

Cicada flagging on mature trees
“Flagging” on mature shade trees, resulting from cicada oviposition (egg-laying)

What to do about Oak-leaf mites

  • Look out for bites – Although you can’t see these tiny pests, you will be able to see the results of their presence. After you’ve been outside and around Oak trees, look for itchy, raised, blistered areas on your skin. Experts recommend antihistamines and cold compresses for mild symptoms. If the symptoms persist or become severe, see your doctor.
  • Avoid contact – Cicada oviposition results in tell-tale “flagging” or brown patches at the ends of tree limbs. Those brown patches indicate where cicada eggs might have been lain, and where oak-leaf mites may now be feeding. Avoiding these areas will not eliminate all contact with oak-leaf mites, however, as this pest can become airborne with just a little bit of wind
  •  Wear protective clothing outside, as insect repellent doesn’t do much for these pests. After going outside, wash your clothes and your exposed skin thoroughly with soap and warm water.

Although we can’t treat for oak-leaf mites, we can help prune out the damage from cicada oviposition. If you need help with pruning, please contact us!

Call us at 703.573.3029

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