Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Mite Identification
QUESTION: I have something that's been biting me since for the a 4-5 months. It started with my 5 year old Yorkie terrier.
My poor dog was scratching A LOT. So I would scratch him not thinking anything of it. One day I flipped him over and wanted to cry. I first noticed were brown faded spots all over his chest and stomach and brown granules that looked like "eggs" off something implanted all over his chest and stomach...could be picked out with tweezers.
He had bite marks on him as well. Red little bites all over in a pattern that went up from his butt to his legs, chest, arms, neck, face, there I noticed a red bloody insect of some sort crawling under the surface of his cheek. I plopped him immediately into the bath doused him with flea shampoo and scrubbed him, tweezed whatever that was out. It looked like like a red bloody tick. A few days later I saw my poor dog scratching again, bite marks in a pattern , really bad, welts, the same bloody thing again in his cheek area. Once again I tweezed it out. I tried to save it in a vial for the vet but forgot to put alcohol in it as I did not know so the specimen dried.
I expressed to the Vet that I saw a red bug, embedded in my dogs skin which was biting him and showed her the bites and the brown spots and these "eggs". She said the dog was "active", looked fine and said he probably had "mites". This was a large practice so several vets rotated through the week. I wanted to take my dog to his main vet who was at a different office within the practice. He contradicted the 1st vet and said "you can't see mites, she doesn't know what she's talking about". Which left me confused. And said he had tapeworms, gave a shot...and tested for heartworm. Negative of course. ugh. Didn't mention anything about the spots, or the "eggs". Said the dog was healthy.
At this point, my dog started getting MORE bites, same pattern...focusing a lot on his butt, hind legs, neck, face. This time now it was a black pepper slow moving "thing" biting him. I was so desperate with no answers. My dog was suffering. I tried taking him to the vet once when I saw it on him but by the time I did take him it was gone. This was the 3rd vet and only vet in the practice that took the time to physically examine my dog inch by inch. She said she saw a "flea" on my dog. WTH I said? Suddenly my dog developed this stubborn flea type of invasion but I didn't feel they were fleas. I found it weird that he had whatever he had AND fleas? She gave me a container to collect samples and asked me to bring it in one I did. All this time I was told it was safe to hold my dog...
I took it to the last Vet after lots of fighting who said dog had "chiggers" and it was his first case in 14 years. This did not sit right with me. I did not live in high fields and no other vet or pest company had cases of chiggers in my area nor any other dog in my building have this. A month had passed by now...I was told it was safe to hold my dog. "He was fine".
I was noticing orange specks in my washrag when I washed up. Especially in my private area. A LOT. Then I started to get bites. First behind my knees, ankles, forearms, then it got out of control. The bites would have the mites inside of them. When I rubbed them with the rag the rag would turn into the "orange" spec from the mite. Lots of bites. The entire arm. My stomach, back, neck, my ears, cheeks, buttocks line, waist, scalp is the WORST. I have to keep it tied. I feel them crawling on my skin, jumping on my eyelashes or to my face, in my nose. NOTHING helps. ER said it was chiggers...because I guess I told them so. I should have not said a word about my dog. I didn't bother going to drs. I was discouraged.
Went online from there. They're in my house EVERYWHERE. In my CAR. I noticed the worst area was around my balcony area....i have 4 windows, door, inside my computer sits in front of 2 of the window. It was impossible for me to sit now. I kept getting bitten. I couldn't hold my mouse. Kept getting bitten very bad. By my feet and hands. I always had pigeon nesting there in the summer. I started suspecting BIRD MITES once i did my research. I'm not an expert but that's what kept pulling up with all my symptoms. My ac feels like the devil to me. Once the exterminator sprayed it...I had a little bit of relief. But it's still in here.
I saw the orange specs in my bathroom ceiling one day full of it. I wanted to scream...hot day in September. Everywhere I wiped with white tissue it wiped with orange specs. And everywhere I stood or sat I would get bitten. I couldn't sit on my couches. I haven't sat on my couches since August. My dog use to lay on the couch a lot. My bites changed in October from orange to now black pepper as well but on me I didn't really see movement like I did on my dog. But they bit VERY HARD.I had these black pepper things everywhere. Even after I shower. I wipe and they were on me biting me. I had to splash alcohol to get some type of relief which of course makes my skin suffer. I have to change bedding and pjs every day.
Boraxed my apt and dog, bombed, I tried sulfur...alleviated..but didn;t help. Diamtaceus earth food grade...practically had a snow storm in my house and the Yorkie, nothing... neem oil, all the menthols, fungals, coal tar, sigh...oregano, clove, I have researched and tried it ALL. Had moron exterminators come to my apt who've done sterifab and some type of poison who made it WORST...as well as with steam. I felt they multiplied. They never gave me my sample results.
I'm DESPERATE. My building won't exterminate anymore because the exterminators think they know it all and were stuck that this was chigger. They never examined my balcony once. I had actually two exterminators. The building terminated my services and after me making a lot of noise they started me up again but won't start me unless this "thing" is identified. Not sure if this is being done on purpose but the entomologist keeps saying he sees nothing but debris. Yet I placed these glue boards as advised and these mites crawled on them. I also gave him samples of mites I took off my body and out my dogs ears as that's where I'm still able to visually see them only when I wipe with cotton.
I'm still suffering and getting bitten. So is my dog. I been using revolution on him as well as Ivermectim a friend gave me to treat him in the beginning to take the "eggs" and spots away. It helped! Gone in 3 weeks. The shampoos and revolution was not helping this. The spots starting coming back a few weeks ago. I ordered Ivermectim and treated him again. immediately they disappeared. BUT we are both still getting bitten.
The strangest thing though...the bite habits have changed. The bites aren't as visible. I still see red marks on me here and there...visually...but not like I used to. I still FEEL them. My skin stings and burns. At one point the bite feeling calmed down. Now lately I am feeling the bites more and my skin is on fire...very uncomfortable. I read somewhere that the mites somehow go into your bloodstream? It stated that you will feel the bites but not see marks...more like welts after a while? Well that's what I've experience. Raised well marks on my skin. Also I'm starting to see some orange mites again like I had in the beginning stages
Sorry for long message. I wanted to explain as best as I could. I would really appreciate your help. I'm desperate with no answers since August.
ANSWER: Hi, Mitzi:
You have been talking to the wrong people in light of the fact that you have definitely seen mites, or some mite-like creature, and associated them with the bites to you and your pet.
Take intact specimens of the creatures, preserved in a vial of alcohol (isopropyl or ethanol from a drugstore is fine), to a local entomologist at a natural history museum, university (Cornell U. is New York's top entomology department), state department of agriculture office, or even the public health department (vector control division will have at least one staff entomologist). He or she can then put the critters under a high-powered microscope and render a proper identification. You *cannot* rely on pest control technicians, veterinarians, or doctors to correctly identify an insect or arachnid. They are simply not trained to do so.
I wish I could give a definitive answer from here, but I can't. I'm also not a mite expert ("acarologist" is the term for one of those).
Best wishes for a successful outcome. Do let me know what you find out once someone has examined the critters under magnification.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you so much Eric. Coincidentally I already had an appointment with the Natural History Museum this week...I was suppose to go Friday but most likely I'll make it there tomorrow. I still seek these black things crawling on my dog. I honestly didn't think they were there anymore cuz he didn't have any marks but sadly I saw them on him.
I'm conflicted on what to do as far as me, the dog, and my house. As my dog and I have no relief. I was going to take him to BluePearl Dermatologist as that is the only one truly around as far as "specialist"...there is a location in Queens, Bk, and NYC. Im pretty much at the same point i'm at from day one. I've tried everything on my dog. The Visit is almost $200. ugh. I'll be very upset if they tell me NOTHING. I don't know what to do. Any suggestion? Should I identify this first? I was thinking of taking the dog with me when I go in case the entomologist wanted to look at him.
You know...the first exterminators gave me a false report? The report wasn't even back and because the techs the company sent me stole from me, they read me a false report stating I had harvest mites? Aka chiggers? I asked for a copy of it and of course umm errr...they couldn't provide one. The owner after I flipped out told me the truth. I couldn't even deal with the legalities of it at the moment...didn't have the energy but i'm sure there is something legally wrong there.
In any case. I wish I had somewhere I could go treat myself. A doctor who knew about this stuff. It's sad I can't find anyone.
PS. I appreciate all your help. You've been amazing. Will be sending samples to Cornell as they are upstate. How do I rate you?
I don't know what more to tell you. I wouldn't take the dog with you unless the entomologist wants you to. Pets are not generally welcome in entomology offices/departments because there is usually fragile equipment and specimens lying about....
Do seek legal action if pest control technicians stole from you. Since most pest control technicians are not adequately trained in insect and arachnid identification, I don't think you could claim a "false report." They probably didn't know what they were doing to begin with. Sad state of affairs, I know, but they are much more concerned with compliance with federal and state laws when it comes to application of pesticides.
Rate me as you wish, there should be some kind of digital form to do that for "politeness," "punctuality," etc. as categories.