Mild winter draws oak mites out of hibernation earlier

Oak mites are already out and biting people after a mild winter. (File photograph/The Associated Press)

KANSAS CITY — A mild winter has drawn oak mites out of hibernation earlier than expected.

Extension agent Dennis Patton tells KSHB-TV in Kansas City, Missouri, that the mites never did go fully dormant. He says there have been lots of reports of people getting bit while raking leaves and cleanup for spring.

The fear is that the problem will get worse this fall. But he says other summer factors such temperatures and rainfall affect the pest’s reproduction so it’s difficult to say whether there will be another severe outbreak like last winter.

He recommends people wear long sleeves and spray bug repellant to avoid being bit.

Patton says there is no way to spray for the bugs because they can hide within the tree ridges.

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