Brood X, the gift that keeps on giving. Itchy mite bites.

Heather Jauquet

Bumbling Brood X cicadas leave Marylanders with one gift that they could have kept to themselves

It appears that Marylanders may have found themselves with the incredibly itchy aftermath from the cicada season.

Have you noticed that you have little red bites on your skin? Those bites may be one more parting gift from the cicadas. We thought we were done with them for the next 17 years, but no. Cicadas are the gift that keeps on giving. All through social media are complaints about an unusual rash of itchy bites.

While cicadas themselves are relatively harmless, they mostly hum eerily and loudly for about six weeks as they attract mates and bump into us while we are out for our stroll through the neighborhoods. The more discombobulated cicadas found themselves flying into our cars and wondering how they got there. Nonetheless, their presence brought out some undesirable pests. Snakes and rats were more prolific as they found cicadas easy prey. Montgomery County issued a warning to its residents of ways to keep their homes nuisance-free.

It appears that cicadas have brought forth another pest, the Pyemotes, otherwise known as oak leaf itch mite. The oak leaf itch mite likes to eat cicada eggs, among other things.

While the cicadas have been gone for quite some time, they left behind another generation to hatch in another 17 years. The telltale signs are the patches of brown leaves on trees in the middle of summer. That is a pretty good indication that lady cicadas have used their razor-like appendage to slice through the layer of bark to lay their eggs.

Those new cicada eggs have become a welcome buffet for the latest pests. You can tell which trees may have been infested with oak mites. Just look for the trees with the brown patches of dead leaves.
Tree with patches of brown leavesHeather Jauquet/Author

The Brood X cicadas may have left them with a veritable feast. If any Marylanders have the misfortune to stand too close to an oak tree, they might later discover tiny pimple-like lesions on their skin that leave the individual very, very itchy. The mites fall from the trees and typically land on the face, neck, and arms. In about 12 hours, the bites become incredibly itchy but will go away in about two weeks.

How do you avoid them?

With the Delta variant surging across the country, sitting outdoors with friends and family has made visiting possible. But Marylanders will have to be careful where they sit, lest they become targets for the tiny little pests. It is recommended to stay away from trees showing brown leaf patches, a sure sign that cicadas have laid their eggs. Where there are eggs, there will probably be mites. When they drop down, they’ll also bite humans. If you need to rake up leaves, remember to cover up, wear long sleeves and gloves.

What can you do about the itch?

If you do find yourself with itch mite bites, you can call your doctor.

This helpful article from Kansas State suggests using over-the-counter cortisone cream, calamine lotion, or an antihistamine.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered health advice. Therefore, please consult a doctor before making any significant medical decisions.

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Certified educator K-12 and Reading Specialist with a focus on the adolescent brain. I write about how educational decisions affect parents, students, and staff. As an educator and parent I also focus on community events for the whole family.


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