Mild winter may be to blame for Oak Leaf Itch Mites

Posted: Updated:
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

"Oh yes, I've been bitten by them," said Curtis Barton, who regularly disc golfs at Oak Park Disc Course in Wichita's Riverside neighborhood.  

Barton said, "They're a real bad nuisance, itch and they just seem to be everywhere especially if you've got the oak trees around."  

And, of course, there are plenty of oak trees in Oak Park.  

But most of the oaks are only now leafing out. That's got Kansas State University entomologists scratching their heads about the reports of people getting bitten by oak leaf itch mites. Those bites typically come later in the summer or early fall.

 "People are reporting that they're getting some bites out this spring working around in the gardens," said Sedgwick County KSU Extension Agent Matthew McKernan.  After consulting with experts in Manhattan, McKernan said, "some of those oak itch mites may have over-wintered in those leaf piles. And as people are picking up those leaves and could be coming in contact with potential oak itch mites from last year." 

It raises the question whether Kansans could be dealing with a third straight year of an oak leaf itch mite outbreak. McKernan said he will be watching for gall forming on oak leaves as a possible sign of more oak mites coming.  Gall, he said, is a principle food source for the mites.  "But until we have a little bit more time it's hard to tell, for sure."

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to news@kake.com.

MORE SLIDESHOWS HERE

  • Most Popular Stories

    • Father of Lucas Hernandez talks about the night he found Emily Glass dead

      In a podcast that aired Friday, Johnathan Hernandez revealed what happened the night he found his girlfriend, 27-year-old Emily Glass, shot to death in her home. 

    • Amber Alert for Kansas City teen canceled

      Police issued an update saying, "based on the investigation, we no longer believe Sledge was abducted. We believe she is still endangered and with 18-year-old Anthony King." 

    • Sheriff's office identifies woman killed in shooting near Andover

      Deputies were called just after 10:30 p.m. Wednesday to a shooting in the 3200 block of North 159th Street East.

    • Drivers say contaminated diesel causing thousands of dollars in damage

      At least a dozen of you called KAKE News On Your Side Investigates, saying the fuel at one pump is costing them thousands and thousands of dollars in damage. 

    • Police looking for man using stolen credit cards

      Police say he came in several times with different women, each time he used a stolen credit card to buy hundreds of dollars worth of items. 

    • Haysville motorcycle crash leaves two people in critical condition

      Ronnie Kondo has lived in the same, quiet, Haysville neighborhood for nearly 8 years now and he said accidents like this one happen all the time. “It’s a huge blind spot. If you’re speeding, there’s no time to react to anything,” Kondo said. 

    • Family of missing Kansas veteran Ashley Meiss claim 'foul play'

      National headlines continue to follow the disappearance of Kansas veteran Ashley Meiss. The mother of two was last seen in Ogden, Kansas on May 18th.  Initially, Ashley's family thought her on-going battle with PTSD, bouts of depression and pending divorce drove her to escape.  Now that doesn't look to be the story.

    • Body cam video shows Wichita police shooting that injured girl

      Dexter Betts and other officers responded December 30 to the report of a domestic disturbance and suicidal person at a home near 13th and Hillside.

    • 2 critically hurt in crash in Haysville

      Dispatch confirms two people have suffered critical injuries in an accident that occurred near Timbercreek and Seneca, in Haysville. 

    • Severe Thunderstorm Watch issued for western Kansas

      A line of storms, some expected to be severe with damaging winds in excess of 70 mph, will move across northwest Kansas and sink southeast through late Friday afternoon and evening.