Mites are tiny blood-sucking bugs that belong to the same family as ticks and spiders. And despite the fact that mite-related sickness is uncommon in the United States, certain mites still pose a threat, especially if they appear in high numbers.
In fact, have you ever heard of hazardous turkey mites? A single bite from these pesky creatures can transmit pathogens that can cause severe and even deadly infections in your pets.
Therefore, this creepy crawly is an additional reason why repealing the mites and ticks should be on your to-do list. Let’s find out how!!
What is a turkey mite?
Turkey mites, often known as turkey ticks and seed ticks, are basically the larval and nymphal stages of the tick Amblyomma americanum, commonly known as the lone star ticks.
According to the biological classification, their adult form (the lone star ticks) are placed in the class arachnid, along with other common pests such as ticks, spiders, and scorpions.
Moreover, what is really interesting about these pests is their parasitic habits. Despite being ardent pests on mammals, they often fall off their host by themselves. In fact, they drop off the host on their own within a few days (4 to 9).
This is because the turkey mites need blood in order to complete their life cycle and reproduce. After digesting a single blood meal, the mites fall to the ground and enter their subsequent lifecycle stage.
However, ticks’ propensity to depend on their hosts’ blood may still pose issues for animals and humans.
In fact, it may cause excruciatingly painful rashes in many areas of your pet’s body, resulting in great suffering. In addition to skin discomfort, turkey mites may also cause hair loss and anemia.
That being said since these vile animals rely on blood to proliferate rapidly, they are a threat to the health of your pet. Therefore, it is essential to eliminate them as soon as possible in order to prevent major infestations or damage.
Other common names for Turkey mites
In addition, the larval and nymphal stages of the tick Amblyomma americanum go by other common names such as turkey mites, red bugs, or seed ticks. They are related to the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) and get their name from this association.
In their larval stage, these ticks can transmit life-threatening diseases to both animals and humans.
Turkey Mite Basics
Turkey mites are a type of tick that can infest both pets and humans. They are very small, about the size of a poppy seed, which is why they are also called “seed ticks.” Thereby, they can be difficult to see and can go unnoticed for quite some time.
Furthermore, these pesky mites are generally red or light brown and have eight legs. These pesky critters thrive on the blood of humans, pets, and other animals. After feeding on the host for 4 to 9 days, the larva drops off and molts into the nymphal stage in 3 to 4 weeks.
The length of the nymph is approximately 1/16 of an inch, and it has eight legs. It consumes a blood meal and then undergoes a metamorphosis into the adult stage, which is approximately 1/16 of an inch long and has six legs.
Mites are becoming increasingly abundant as the weather warms up. This is especially true for tick larvae and nymphs (i.e., turkey mites), which can be very difficult to see.
Female mites usually deposit masses of several thousand eggs on the ground, so anyone who happens to stand in or pass through such a site can easily pick up dozens (and dozens) of larvae.
In the meantime, mite larvae and nymphs are very active between July and October. They climb low vegetation and wait with outstretched front legs to latch onto passing animals or humans.
Once they’re “on board,” they crawl around to find a suitable place to attach and feed. The feeding site can be irritating for days after the turkey mites have detached or been removed.
What are common hosts of Turkey mites?
The common hosts of the Turkey mite are humans, domesticated animals such as cattle, dogs, and horses, ground-dwelling birds, squirrels, opossums, and raccoons, plus white-tailed deer and coyotes.
These mites can infest a variety of different animals and can be found in a variety of habitats.
The adult form of turkey mites, i.e., lone star tick, is very aggressive and non-specific when seeking hosts, although some specificity does occur within each life stage.
Furthermore, larvae are primarily collected from birds and mammals, but not on small rodents, while nymphs feed on all of these animals. Adults typically feed on large- or medium-sized mammals but can be found on small rodents and wild turkeys.
Are turkey mites dangerous to pets?
Turkey mites can be dangerous to pets, as they can cause skin irritation, inflammation, and even hair loss.
Additionally, they are also known to transmit several bacteria and other disease-causing agents that can make pets sick; basically, they can carry more than one organism at once, making it possible for pets to be infected with multiple diseases.
If your pet is suffering from a turkey mite infestation, it is important to take them to the vet for treatment.
Can humans contract turkey mites from pets?
Yes, humans can contract turkey mites from pets.
Pets can become infested with these mites and then spread them to their owners. In fact, the mites are not choosy when it comes to biting and will happily feed on both animals and humans.
When turkey mites bite humans, they can transfer pathogens that make people sick.
Are turkey mites dangerous to humans?
Well, turkey mites can be dangerous to humans. They are known to transmit a variety of pathogens that can make people sick. In addition to causing skin irritation and rashes, they may also transfer alpha-gal, a sugar that can trigger a red meat allergy in humans.
Turkey Mites Bite Symptoms
There are many types of mites, but the most common one that affects dogs is the turkey mite. This type of tick can cause a variety of symptoms in pets, depending on the stage of its life cycle when it attaches itself to the dog.
In fact, there are some signs that pet owners should look out for:
- Redness and swelling around the bite site
- Labored or rapid breathing
- Loss of appetite
If you believe that a turkey mite has bitten your dog, it is important to seek veterinary attention immediately.
How to Remove Turkey mite From your pets?
Removing Turkey mites can be tricky, but it’s important to do it correctly to avoid any diseases these mites may carry. Here is a simple guide on how to remove a turkey mite from your pet:
- Grab the mite near to your pet’s skin (at the mouthparts), twist it, and then pull it away from the skin.
- If a portion of the turkey mite is still entrenched in your pet’s skin, use tweezers or a mite removal tool to remove it carefully by grasping the mite as near to the skin as possible and drawing it straight up. Avoid squeezing the mites’ bodies since doing so may cause their digestive fluids to leak into the incision.
- Clean the bite wound on your pet with soap and water, and apply an antibiotic ointment if needed.
After removing the mites, you can take your pet for a veterinarian consultation, ensuring effective final results.
How to Repel Turkey Mites in Pets?
As established, turkey mites can be fatal for your pets, resulting in numerous diseases and infections. However, you can undertake measures to repel these blood-sucking critters in the first place.
In fact, I have enlisted below some effective ways to repel the invasion of turkey mites:
- To begin with, one way to help repel turkey mites is to mow areas of the lawn where your pets spend a good time romping and rolling around! This will eliminate the mites’ hiding places and make it difficult for them to travel from one area of the property to another.
- Check your pets regularly for mites. In fact, it is one of the best ways to protect your pet from getting turkey mites. You can do this by looking through their fur for any small brown or reddish bugs. If you find any, remove them immediately and consult with a veterinarian.
- Citrus fruits, such as lemons and limes, are natural repellents for many pests, including turkey mites. You can boil them to make a repellent solution or add lemon juice to a spray bottle with witch hazel to ward off turkey mites.
- Comb your pets regularly with a ticks comb. This will help remove any eggs or larvae that may be on the coat. In addition, make sure to check your pet for turkey mites after going outside.
- Apple cider vinegar is a natural mite repellant that can be used to keep mites away from both humans and pets. You can add about one and a half teaspoons of apple cider vinegar per quart of water to your pet’s water bowl to keep turkey mites away or mix it with water to make a spray. This simple spray can be applied once every morning before heading outside to keep turkey mites off your pet.
- Vacuum your house frequently and dispose of the vacuum bags immediately after use. This will help remove any eggs or larvae that may be present in your home. Additionally, you can try using a DEET-based repellent on your pets to keep the turkey mites at bay. You can also use a premixed insecticide spray designed to kill mites on contact; however, consulting your vet beforehand is highly recommended.
- Another effective technique in order to repel turkey mites is to wash your pet’s bedding at least once a week. Additionally, you can bathe your pet with a pesticide-free pet shampoo to kill the turkey mites.
- Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts that can be used to repel turkey mites and other pests. This natural ingredient should always be diluted with a carrier oil before use, as they can be harmful in their undiluted form. Some effective essential oils for repelling turkey mites include rose geranium, citronella, eucalyptus, lavender, and lemongrass. Furthermore, you can make your own turkey mites repellent spray using distilled water, drops of rose geranium essential oil, and either vodka or witch hazel to disperse the oil throughout the water.
- Last but not least, consult your veterinarian. In fact, your veterinarian is the best resource for information about how to prevent turkey mites from infesting your pet. There are many different types of mites and tick preventatives on the market, so ask your vet which one is best suited for your pet.
In conclusion, I hope this guide was helpful in addressing all of your questions regarding turkey mites and giving you practical methods to manage these dangerous pests!