August 2020 — Berry Bugs
Neotrombicula autumnalis, or berry bugs as they are best known in the Lothians, are in full flight scratch mode by now. These tiny creatures are almost invisible and live in grass and other plants. During their parasitic stage they can move onto cats, dogs and, most itchy of all, people too.
They tend to be most active in late summer, hence their common name, harvest mites. While they are found throughout Britain, they seem to be especially populous in the East of Scotland.
If you suffer from berry bug infestations (they enjoy living in the warm, hidden areas of skin where clothing fits tightly—e.g. midriff, behind the knees—for a few days) treatments vary—DEET or similar insect repellents are suggested to discourage the mites in the first place. Itching can be alleviated through the use of topical corticosteroids which can be picked up at chemists. An east side plot holder swears by a very hot, soapy shower immediately on getting home from the plot during berry bug season as a way of preventing the itch.
Neotrombicula autumnalis are described more fully here.
Neotrombicula autumnalis aka 'harvest mite'
Photo: Tib124 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https:// commons. wikimedia.org/ /index.php?curid= 7641947