If your pet is itchy, the fall grass mite could be the culprit. It affects dogs, cats, and humans from July to October. It’s not dangerous, but annoying.
The larvae of the autumn grass mite can hardly be seen with the naked eye. They are about a quarter of a millimeter long and have six legs and a mouthpart with which they inject their victims with digestive fluid. This is preferred where the skin is thin and sparsely hairy, such as on the ears and between the toes. The victim usually only feels the infestation hours or even days later in the form of severe itching.
The autumn grass mite is also called autumn mite, grass mite, or harvest mite. Its scientific name is Neotrombicula autumnal. The adult animals are interested neither in humans nor in their pets. It is exclusively the larvae that wait in meadows in summer and autumn to be picked up by a passing animal – such as a cat, a dog, or a human being.
If your dog or cat is infested with autumn mites, you will most likely recognize this indirectly from the behavior of the animal. To relieve the itching, it will lick the affected areas or even bite and scratch itself. If you comb the fur with a flea comb and place white paper underneath, you will see the mite larvae as orange dots. The veterinarian can make a reliable diagnosis.
As soon as the mite larvae have sucked their fill, they fall off by themselves. Treatment is only necessary if the affected animal is obviously distressed or scratches bloody, which can lead to inflammation. We recommend consulting a specialist before using medication and home remedies, as cats and dogs react differently to some active ingredients than humans. In particular, tea tree oil should not be rubbed into a cat, as some of its components are toxic to cats.
It is best, of course, if an infestation does not occur in the first place. Therefore, those places where mites are known to occur should be completely avoided in summer and autumn. Some pet owners also report positive experiences with tick collars and tick and flea repellents such as “ExSpot” and “Frontline”.
Humans are Also Among the Victims
As mentioned above, fall mites also infect humans. However, this only happens when someone walks through the grass or bushes with bare legs. Transmission via dog or cat does not occur. Also, the mites can no longer multiply in the house. As soon as it gets colder again in late autumn, the problem will take care of itself. At least for a few months.