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News and information from UC Cooperative Extension about alfalfa and forage production.
Tractor & Hay bales
by Dinny Laurence
on March 20, 2014 at 5:51 AM
Can the reaction to hay mites be delayed? I handled hay on our farm about 10 days ago and every day since then one or two additional (and very itchy) red bites have appeared. I have washed everything and am hoping I have not brought these blighters back to the city with me/  
by Larry Godfrey
on March 20, 2014 at 8:27 AM
It is possible to move the itch mites around so I suspect a few have made the trip with you to the city. They will gradually die off over a period of 7-14 days. They will not reproduce and/or establish in areas outside of their natural habitat – grassy vegetation areas but they will bite. There may also be a delayed reaction to the bite – not sure about that but everyone differs as to their reaction to insect bites – look at mosquitoes where some people are “eaten alive” and other people do not seem to be affected. Washing everything and some time are the best options. Also baby oil or similar “lotion” on the skin can inhibit the mites from moving/biting.
by Ray
on December 6, 2014 at 4:54 AM
What remedies van I use to cure / get rid of the rash? I have been bitten repeatedly and the bites just doesn't go away.
by Larry Godfrey
on December 6, 2014 at 8:57 AM
Unfortunately I am not a medical doctor and could not comment on remedies for the bites - "out of my league". In terms of preventing the bites, baby oil sometimes helps. The mites are so small their movement is impeded by the oil. I also hear that the mosquito repellents (containing DEET) can help to repel the mites and thus the bites but I don't have any proof of that.  
Good luck, Larry
by Sarah
on March 3, 2015 at 8:17 AM
I sat on a hay bale and immediately was bitten realy hard with a continued pricking sensation. My thigh has swollen massively and become infected within 2 days. i have never reacted to any insect bite before but this iw awful. Not sure what it was but any ideas would be welcome - straw mite is favourite so far!  
by Daylan
on April 16, 2015 at 2:33 AM
I have this problem with the mites On my farm.brought them in with my oathay i bought. They also mooved into my sawdust for my horses. I got bitten alive for afew weeks without knowing what was going on. Though desperation i used dif stuff till i found that a hot shower and dabing un-diluted dettol on the bites workes like a dream then spread a cortazone cream called "Biocort" over the bite. Continu this for about 3 day's and all is good. However it wont get better with coming in contackt with the hay again. I am considering tossing my hay and looking for a new sorce. There is treatment available for animal's.
by Chris
on June 10, 2015 at 11:33 AM
We bought a load of oat hay a month ago and since then we have been continuously attacked with bites.mdermatologist diagnosed as scabies but none of their treatments got rid of it. It keeps coming back. We finally read about these oat hay itch mites on your site and the photo looks just like what we have. The hay got used up yesterday but now I'm wondering if it has migrated to our Bermuda hay stored next to the oat..I also think that they must have come back from the barn in my carb:( I am using undiluted dettol on the bites. Seems to help.
by Larry Godfrey
on June 11, 2015 at 2:27 PM
Yes, certainly sounds like the itch mites. A few of the mites may have migrated to the hay stored next to the infested oat hay but these critters do not move far in storage. In "nature", they move with the wind readily and this increases their spread. It is not unusual for dermatologists to miss these mites in their diagnosis.  
I have heard of mosquito repellents helping with these itch mites in some cases. Baby oil on the skin can also help to keep them from biting. Once bitten, the usual range of skin irritation remedies can help - the hydrocortisone creams, etc.
by Keith
on June 21, 2015 at 7:45 PM
I live in Los Angeles, California and got nailed with these things 3 years ago and then again recently a couple weeks ago. I read that they also attack bee larvae and I happen to be a beekeeper. Can you expand on this at all?  
It has become so demoralizing to work one particular yard in the hills around Simi Valley. Is there any way to find out if there is a particular outbreak of bites from these mites in my area? Every doctor I talk to have no idea what these things are and just look at me like I'm crazy. The only thing that worked in bringing down the bites relatively quickly was prescribed steroids. Not fun.  
Thanks for the research.
by Debbie
on September 25, 2015 at 2:13 PM
I sat in hay that was infested with something and it itches worse than anything  
I've ever dealt with. I went to the doctor she gave me a shot of kenolog  
And told me to use caladryl but it's not helping at all. I scratch so hard I bring blood.  
What do you suggest I do now?
Reply by Daniel H Putnam
on October 14, 2015 at 8:19 AM
Sorry - we're not medical doctors. Keep checking with your doctors.  
by Veronica
on April 15, 2016 at 5:23 PM
My doctor prescribed an antihistamine (tablet for allergies) and a topical cream for itchy bites (he wasn't sure if it was an allergy or bites). Took about 3 to 4 days for itching to stop but creases in elbows would still itch if I got hot ie cooking evening meal. Welt marks took almost two weeks to stop looking so red & angry and more than 3 weeks later the welts are still, really slowly, fading. Hpe this helps.
by Ssam L. mmadden
on May 1, 2016 at 8:08 AM
Can these mites be seen without a microscope? My friend has a large black dog she's constantly scratching and itching even on doses of Prednisone for 2 weeks. At one point she even chewed a bald spot on her back side near her hip. Is there anything we can spray the sofas with in the house that she always sits on? We are wondering all the blankets we usually cover the sofa with don't know what else to do?
Reply by Shannon C. Mueller
on May 1, 2016 at 11:18 AM
Larry Godfrey, the author of the original post replied:  
The mites are really impossible to see without a microscope. Even with a microscope, they are basically invisible. At best you might see “moving dust particles”. You can try to stick tape on the infested area and may be able to see them.  
I’m not really qualified to discuss treatment of the animal. A good vet clinic should be able to help. There should be skin treatments that can help with straw itch mites or other topical mites. Fleas are always an issue but seems a bit early for them in central CA right now.  
For treating the sofa, there are over-the-counter items that can be used such as for fleas. I doubt they will help much. Depending on the size and structure, you could remove the cloth covers, bag them, and either freeze them or heat/microwave them to kill the mites. That will work.  
The mites will not establish on animals. But biting will be a problem as they move off the hay to the animal, bite and perhaps back to the hay. The problem will dwindle over a period of weeks but very pestiferous for a while.
by sandra
on June 12, 2016 at 7:53 PM
by Ariel
on July 14, 2016 at 6:35 PM
I am seeking advice on management of land, mulch and bedding re straw itch mites. This appears to be the cause of 70+ bites I've received when hand-cutting wild grasses in my yard. Most of the grass is wild oats. Questions: If I bring in a crew to weedwack and remove tall grasses, can the mites continue to live on in the stubble, blow around the yard, and bite? Removing the grass roots would be erosive. Also, I have read that they can infest wood chip mulch, which I had hoped to cover the yard with. Is that the case? If so, are there any vegetative mulches that would not serve as a host? And likewise, anything I can use as bedding for my chickens, such as pine shavings, that won't provide additional habitat for these guys? Trying to avoid a long, itchy summer....
Reply by Shannon C. Mueller
on July 18, 2016 at 11:02 AM
From Larry Godfrey, UC Davis -  
Removing the top growth (leaves, etc.) will help with the itch mite problem. They will continue to live on the stubble but without leaf tissue to infest they will suffer and levels will decline. Survival on mulch, shavings, etc. is not possible. They could perhaps infest these areas for a few days due to the moisture and cooler conditions but they are not going to survive. Good luck.
by byblos
on August 13, 2016 at 3:41 PM
We found that a small amount of a steroid (prednisone) cream covered with a sheer spot AS SOON as you notice a bite will reduce/prevent the itching. You may of course have 10-25 spots to cover
by Judith Mireault
on September 14, 2016 at 8:34 PM
I like your comments about the mites in the hay bails but how can I get rid of those mites. I can put any cream on me but each time I have to give hay to my horses I will have more mites and more bites. Please help me to get rid of the mites in my hay.  
Reply by Shannon C. Mueller
on September 15, 2016 at 4:05 PM
From Larry Godfrey at UC Davis:  
The itch mites generally do not survive very long in the hay bales. Since the hay is dry and continues to get drier, the mites cannot survive these conditions so over time the levels go down. Usually after several weeks, they are at tolerable levels in the hay. It might help to spread the bales out as much as possible to facilitate the drying.  
The mites build-up more on the plants in the field during wet winters/springs, so I expected this to be a bad year for them. There is nothing you can do to treat the hay to get rid of them.  
For you, I believe that applying baby oil before handling the infested bales can help reduce the mite bites. It is sticky enough to slow down their movements. After being bitten, the Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Creams usually help to heal the bites unless you are super sensitive, i.e. allergic, to them. If so, this might require stronger creams and it would be best to see a physician.
by Kim
on October 17, 2016 at 7:56 AM
If you wash your body with Rid lice shampoo it will kill the mites. We do it each hay season.
by Marcel
on November 7, 2016 at 10:42 AM
Hi. Im so glad I found thois thread. We went to a wedding this weekend and they made us  
Sit on these hay bales at the ceremony. Only later the evening I started itching. The next morning  
I am completely covered in these red marks. - all over my back. My question  
Is, how long does the marks last. I have been taking tablets and cream. On day 2 now, still itches like hell.  
And how long will the marks be on my body
Reply by Shannon C. Mueller
on November 7, 2016 at 2:23 PM
Reply from Larry Godfrey -  
They can be pretty uncomfortable. In terms of time, I believe everyone differs in their response. Just like mosquito bites where some people hardly feel them and for others it is an ordeal. I hear a week is a common time for the discomfort to go away from the straw itch mites. I had an employee in my lab that was bitten badly and in two days they were gone. The “danger” is getting them infected. The hydrocortisone topical creams can help with the itch. Make sure that car seats, jackets, etc. are not infested. The mites will not inhabit and live on these long-term but they could survive on these items for a few days and reinfest you and/or bite you. Good luck.
by Chris Winters
on April 14, 2017 at 9:54 AM
Larry, I like the idea to be careful about pests when working with hay. My wife and I are planning on buying a horse for the family. I'm just wondering what kind of hay would be best for the breed that we are choosing.
by Amala
on May 19, 2017 at 4:11 PM
You suggest freezing to kill hay mites. How long must they be frozen? I feed hay to my guinea pigs, and buy it by the bale at feed stores. Last June and also this May, after wet springs,I have been bitten by hay mites when feeding my animals. I've been told that hay mites could kill my animals quickly due to anemia, so I'm very concerned. I might be able to bag up one day's worth of hay and freeze it in a chest freezer. What temperature and time period would be required to kill mites? Thank you.
by Byblos
on June 23, 2017 at 3:49 PM
For those who like to decrease the suffering, look at my comment on August 16, 2017, because it works. Topical creams do not stay in contact long enough. If itching is still too much try Claritin or ask your doctor for "atarax" generic, but the latter can make you sleepy.
by Norman Liebenberg
on July 21, 2017 at 2:36 AM
Hi Ladies and Gentleman, I have found a way to beat these mites. If you know that you have been investd, take a hot shower and rub your back, stomach and neck in with the good old Ingrams Camphor cream (herbal). If you have been bitten, take a shower and rub Camphor cream on and around the bite, it kills them and it itches no more. If you need to work with oat bales get yourself a 1 L spray can and fill with water, add 7 drops of each of the essential oils into water, shake and mix and the spray over your stomach, neck and your clothing and keep damp while working with hay, Eucalyptus, pepperment and Tee Tree oils.  
This really works, I use the spray every day when feeding my cattle, NO Mites !!
by Harry Harris
on July 21, 2017 at 6:01 PM
by Kelly Bell
on July 30, 2017 at 3:49 PM
For those asking about a non-mite-hosting mulch, may I suggest finding a local shepherd and asking for the trash/belly wool. This wool isn't useful to fiber artists or wool pools, and as such can be found cheap or free, especially right after a shearing. Sheep's wool makes an EXCELLENT, antibacterial mulch and will not harbor these critters. Good luck!
by Lorri Coulthard
on January 17, 2018 at 8:04 AM
We have been infested by mites ever since we bought 2 straw bales from Walmart that we’re shrink wrapped. We have had to dispose our carpet and padding , mattresses and couch cushions. We have been in agony since Sept 2017. No one in San Diego knows what to look for- even the city says bring us a sample but tape does not get them. We want to have our house tented or we are going to have to leave a house after living here 20 Years . Will fumigating/tenting solve this? I’m begging for help
by Daniel H Putnam
on January 18, 2018 at 12:39 PM
I'm sorry to hear about your problems. I can't answer your question, and UC is short on enomologists these days (Larry G., author of this article, passed away last year). Discussion with Pest Management professionals might be appropriate. Sampling to make sure these are still the culprits may be necessary, but as you say, they're hard to find. There are some good private sector people. Also, you may want to try the San Diego UC Cooperative Extension Office. They have some entomologist on board, or may know of others in the UC system. Call 858-822-7711.  
by Self educated
on May 2, 2018 at 8:23 PM
Buy organic coconut oil and tea tree oil. Mix it in a mug 1/3 tea tree oil, 2/3 coconut oil. Shower every night for 14 nights and then apply the mixture all over your body from ears down. The tea tree oil will sting a little if you have open sores, scrathes. Dont miss anywhere, especially skin folds near//under/over your private parts, armpits, etc. Tea tree oil kills mites on top and under the skin, coconut oil helps with soothing itches and also helps prevent secondary bacterial infection caused by scratching. If you miss out on a single night, then you may as well start back at day 1. And if you live with family, you all need to do it. The mites dont instantly die, they will look for a new host. Every day, every mite on your skin lays 10-25 eggs. These hatch after 10 days. So if you are lazy about it and stop after a few days because you feel better, then you will likely get a nasty surprise. The mites will not go away on their own. You likely have already had them for months on your body for over a month before your body couldnt cope anymore and you started seeing symptoms like itchy rashes, etc. Good luck.
by Drue
on June 9, 2018 at 9:42 AM
Has anyone had the red bumps without them itching? I’m covered on my torso but no itching and I’m not sure exactly what it is- they are small red bumps
by kayla
on August 15, 2018 at 3:45 PM
i was helping my aunt and i got bitten by these things and the rash just wont go away i have probably had it for about 3/4 weeks now and its still there is there a way to get rid of it is there a solution to get the rash off?
by Debbie
on September 13, 2018 at 6:16 AM
Apparently our hay has been infested with the straw itch mites. My son has been bitten by them while handling hay and it has affected some horses the hay was sold to. Is there any way to treat the hay or the actual hay lots themselves? Do the straw mites eventually die? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
by Julia
on November 22, 2018 at 5:43 AM
I think I have these from our rabbits hay. Since I had horses as a kid it hasn't bothered me much but my bf got a big welt on his head and a fever not long after. Clean everything!!! Put all your hay in the freezer. I will be taking small amounts out and steaming it before I feed it to the rabbit. Considering that I found out from this that ticks can also be spread through hay I will always keep large amounts outside in a sealed bin and small amounts we buy straight to the freezer and anything fed will from now on will first be steamed. Ticks are very resilient to freezing. The haymites are not thoe and lile dust kites should all be dead after 48 hrs of freezing if you really wanna be safe 72hrs. Just not worth the risk. To the person who has mites. Do you think it is possible you cannot get rid of them because you have rats? Or birds? Otherwise you just need to quarantine better non human mites can only live so long without their preferred host.
by Cathy
on January 22, 2019 at 7:24 AM
Pure tea tree oil will kill them immediately!
by Dan
on February 4, 2019 at 8:19 AM
Thyme out is a liquid natural product available on Amazon has helped me immensely with these critters. Every spring I break out in a huge rash all over from these critters and I’ve found putting this stuff on morning and night keeps the rash at bay - I also start spraying down with peppermint oil diluted in coconut oil before I enter hay barn to feed.
by Ariel
on August 31, 2019 at 7:26 AM
So sorry to read that Mr. Godfrey passed and that UC is low on entomologists! Update info: at least one other web source says that the mites can harbor in mulch. It recommends getting rid of infested hay or mulches, if freezing is not an option. This would be a great UC student project - mapping distribution and extent, conditions correlated with their presence, management recs. I for example am in urban/wildland interface, subdivisions surrounded by unmanaged city open space with tall wild oat grass. Assume annual mowing in spring could help limit populations (not that city will do that...). Should be restrictions on landowners selling infested hay. I am finding this year, after removing wild oat/brome grasses, that I am getting bitten while removing wild sweet pea as well as coyote brush and other veg - thinking in this wet year they can find enough hosts/food to survive on other material enough to be a nuisance. To the person with mites on body - agree likely from bird nest/rats near or in areas of home. Friends' children suffered horribly and it ended up being rat mites, biting at night, eliminated when pest control found/eliminated rat in the basement.
by E Byrnes
on June 2, 2020 at 1:14 PM
I bought a bale of hay last year but it was stored in a shed all winter ... I finally started using it on seeded areas of my lawn and the next day I woke up with small welt-like bites on my right hip and stomach, and one large one on my neck. Is it possible for these mites to live in the hay over a winter?
by Ariel
on September 11, 2020 at 6:26 PM
Just want to report that coconut oil mixed with a small amount of tea tree oil applied to the body before going out to work in infested areas has been effective for me in largely stopping the bites, or I will only get 1 or 2 vs. up to 100 with no protection.
by Melissa
on November 11, 2020 at 11:12 AM
It appears that our alfalfa is infested with the itch mite. All members of our family get bites every day when we feed the horses. We feed twice a day. The problem is that we have an entire hay barn full of alfalfa. What can we do? It has not affected our horses, just us. We have bites all over our bodies and it’s been going on for 2 months now. What can we do to rid the hay of the mites?
by Melissa
on November 11, 2020 at 11:12 AM
It appears that our alfalfa is infested with the itch mite. All members of our family get bites every day when we feed the horses. We feed twice a day. The problem is that we have an entire hay barn full of alfalfa. What can we do? It has not affected our horses, just us. We have bites all over our bodies and it’s been going on for 2 months now. What can we do to rid the hay of the mites?
by George
on January 8, 2021 at 8:30 AM
Please help! I live in Thailand and we have goats. I’m pretty sure we have these itch mites living in the rice straw in and around the goat houses. I’m trying to remove the straw but I’m not sure if they’ll continue to live and breed in other organic matter we have around. Anyway, is there something I can spray the area that is a natural solution? And spray/clean the goats? And our home (sadly my wife has had a few undoubtedly coming from me?  
Thanks for creating this place to discover learn and deal with these mites and thanks for any advice given  
by sahril
on April 14, 2021 at 7:06 PM
it appears that our alfalfa is infested with the itch mite. All members of our family get bites every day when we feed the horses. We feed twice a day. The problem is that we have an entire hay barn full of alfalfa. What can we do? It has not affected our horses, just us. We have bites all over our bodies and it’s been going on for 2 months now. What can we do to rid the hay of the mites?
by sahril
on April 15, 2021 at 6:54 PM
Please help! I live in Thailand and we have goats. I’m pretty sure we have these itch mites living in the rice straw in and around the goat houses. I’m trying to remove the straw but I’m not sure if they’ll continue to live and breed in other organic matter we have around. Anyway, is there something I can spray the area that is a natural solution? And spray/clean the goats? And our home (sadly my wife has had a few undoubtedly coming from me?
by Jen Wickwire
on April 19, 2021 at 7:19 AM
After watching a moth get "disintegrated" mid-flight the other day, I think "disinfecting" the hay with a commercial grade UVC light is something worth looking into. I work for a large semi-conductor company and since Covid, we've been using UVC lights in our electronics labs to sterilize the spaces.  
We have expensive robots and other equipment  
BUT there are hand held solutions out there with a quick internet search.  
Good luck!
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