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Morning Poll: Have You Been Bitten By the Notorious Itch Mite?

Suspected oak mite bite (courtesy photo)

ARLnow was the first local news outlet to report on the mysterious, highly itchy bug bites many residents were reporting.

Following our article two weeks ago, the bites — red, relentlessly itchy and lasting up to two weeks — have become the talk of the town. Our reporting has been echoed by TV stations, the Post, national outlets, and our friends at PoPville.

County officials and the expert interviewed by the Post believe the bites are from microscopic bugs known as  oak itch mites, or pyemotes, which are thought to feed on cicada eggs. They’re nearly impossible to see on your skin and fall from trees where cicada nymphs have been hatching.

You can’t feel the bites, but after about half a day they produce red bumps that can inflame the skin around it and are seemingly impervious to over-the-counter itch creams. The bumps also form a characteristic pimple-like center.

There’s some bad news for folks who have been suffering from the mite bites: an “oak mite apocalypse” in Kansas City in 2016 persisted well into the fall, until a couple of hard freezes finally brought relief. It’s unclear whether the D.C. area might see the mites scourge end earlier due to their presumed food source — the cicada nymphs — hatching and burrowing into the ground for the next 17 years.

Regardless, today we’re trying to find out the extent of the mite bites so far by asking readers: have you been bitten?

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