Move over murder hornets.
Residents of Washington, DC, have come under siege by a plague of microscopic Oak Leaf Itch Mites whose bite leaves a raft of painful and itchy sores on their victims.
“We wake up at night just scratching,” said Cynthia Palmer of Arlington, Virginia, told The Washington Post. “It’s like we have splotches of white paint all over us now that we’re using the calamine [lotion]. The sores are red and swollen, so it’s not pretty.”
Scientists say the mites have come to feed on the billions of cicada eggs that were left by the creatures when they emerged in the capitol last spring and fall on their unsuspecting victims when they pass under an infested tree.
“It’s a phenomenon related to cicadas being there, and it will dissipate. And eventually you won’t have it next year, because the cicadas will not be emerging,” Gene Kritsky, the dean of behavioral and natural sciences at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, told the paper.
The bugs are 1/125 of an inch in length making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. If you’re bitten, you probably won’t even know until the sores begin to emerge about 10 hours later.
Many traumatized residents have sought out each other in online support groups on Facebook and Nextdoor, Washingtonian Magazine reported.
The bugs are expected to continue their reign of terror until the late fall.