Harvest Mites - nasty little critters

We moved to a new house last year, with a lovely established garden of around 100ft which includes an 8 foot wide 'flower bed' which is more like a mini woodland at the moment (going to thin it out this Autumn).  

Our dog started biting his legs last Summer, to the point where he had to wear a 'cone of shame', and our vet said it would be mites from the fox who killed our rabbits.

Moving into this Summer, and our dog started biting his legs and body again, exactly at the same time of year (mid July) as last year.  No way it could be coincidence, so asked the vet to take skin scrapings, and lo and behold it is harvest mites in the garden. I had never heard of them.  

We have now had a gate made at the top of the steps and put chicken wire either side of the gate to separate the upper and lower gardens.  We let the dog into the bottom garden, let him have a run after his ball, then straight back up top and shut the gate, so he doesn't go into the flower bed, but it's not an enjoyable event, lol, a bit like herding sheep as he is obsessed with going in the flower bed as it's on a cat route...  ;-) 

Sorry, rambled on a bit, lol, but does anyone have any suggestions on how to eradicate the mites, or if that's impossible, any ideas for types of barrier to keep the dog out of the woodland flower bed?  The mites are only a problem from July for 3 months, so don't really want to go to the expense of having a permanent barrier/fence etc put up but then again, want something that looks better than wheelie bins, sun loungers etc.  ;-)  Poor dog is wondering what's going on, bless him.  He probably thinks we have gone slightly mad, lol.

Thanks for any help you can give.  


  • waterbuttswaterbutts Posts: 1,221

    There are various shampoos and top-up sprays that are based on Neem oil which will repel the mites. Ask your vet or try websites such as MedicAnimal. I have no business interest in that company but can recommend it as very efficient.image

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,803

    Sounds like you're going to have to train the dog to stay out of the flower beds - a good idea anyway if you're going to have any sort of garden left in a year or so's time - or put some sort of fencing up.  A prettywooden picket fence might look good?

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • Thanks waterbutts, we are currently using Effipro spray, as recommended by the vet, but it doesn't seem to be that effective.  He is also on a very low dose of steroid to stop the itching, which is working very well, but I don't see that as something I want to use long term.  He is allergic to the liquid that the mites spit into the skin (nice!), which is why he itches so badly that he bites his legs raw. I have put it to the test, let him go in the flower bed freely one week, resulting in lots of bites, then kept him up top for the following week, resulting in no bites at all, it's such a shame as he loves mooching around in his own little woodland, bless him.

  • Dovefromabove - he is pretty good for obedience usually, and was quite a placid dog, but since we moved here he's gone a bit feral, lol, it's the cat smell which drives him crazy, he loves to chase them and sniff them out, I think the freedom of a larger garden has gone to his head!  ;-)  

    At the moment the 'flower bed' consists of a fully grown plum tree, a 30ft fir tree, another large tree, various shrubs and quite a few weeds, lol , no flowers at all, so more of a little woodland than a flower bed.  It's the final part of the garden I need to sort out, I am a one woman band as hubby works full time and prefers to relax with his feet up, lol.  The previous owners lived here 50 years, it's is very heavily planted, and the last few years the elderly lady was on her own, so it's been neglected, but I'm gradually working my way through it.  The picket fence idea may work, I guess I could have a gate incorporated so I can get in there when I need to, thanks.  It is a cottage-garden type garden so that would fit the bill, but I imagine it might cost a fair amount for such a long fence as it must be around 70 ft long  ....  :-0

  • SwissSueSwissSue Posts: 1,447

    Maybe if you could cut the weeds down, harvest mites like long grass and weeds. They are less likely to be in the shrubs or trees. My OH gets eaten alive by the little b****rs if he walks in long grass in late summer!image They don't seem to like me though!image

  • SwissSue - thanks, yes I am aiming to get in there and weed/cut back once it gets a bit colder, as all insects/mites love me, think I need to wait a while, lol!  Whether that will solve the problem fully I don't know, as it's very shady as well, which I believe they also love.  I can't actually get into the bed at the moment, it's so congested, but the dog pushes his way in, lol, he is long haired as well, you can image what he looks like when he comes out, the saying 'you look like you've come through a hedge backwards' covers it!  ;-)  My husband is the same as you, nothing ever eats him, so jealous, lol.

  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,805

    They are awful things. We have friends in Wrexham who have to keep their cats in during the Harvest mite season. It seems to be a very localised problem too. A few houses up or down their road and there is no problem.

    They have never found anything to help either. It does seem to be also, a seasonal thing. The mites do stop biting eventually, but when depends on the weather to a large extent. They are not there in Winter though.

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