Wounds of nature: the autumn grass mite

Wounds of nature: the autumn grass mite

Nature is something great. I am fundamentally positive towards creation. However – there are a few exceptions. Since this week I have added a new species to my personal red list of unfortunately non-threatened species. And that’s how it happened.

She loves plant-based foods, especially fruit. I can only invite every Prey Barfer to watch my animal eat fruit. Perhaps that would trigger a rush of speculation in the viewer. At the top are raspberries, which Panini plucks from the bush regardless of the thorns. This is followed by cherries and apples, followed by plums, apricots and blackberries. Blueberries and strawberries are not among the top 5, but they are also taken away from time to time. She has not yet tasted exotic fruits.

Poisonous cherry laurels in the garden: the dog in danger.

When my landlord decided to plant cherry laurel hedges in our garden, I raised concerns. The fruits of the cherry laurel (and not just the fruits) are extremely poisonous. If the small kernels are bitten, hydrogen cyanide is released. Even 10 bitten kernels can supposedly kill a dog. My animal likes to chew thoroughly and loves it when it growls. I can’t count how many kernels I’ve fished out of a dog’s mouth. At least she spits out apricot kernels (also very poisonous) on command. I am an extremely talented dog trainer. Now she has been carelessly passing cherry laurel hedges on our walk for years, but that doesn’t mean anything. If she discovered the stuff once and if she noticed that I object to her eating it, her sportsmanship would be awakened. I know my animal.

My landlord, however, insisted on the ominous planting and so, for the first time, thousands and thousands of small time bombs flourished in our garden during these weeks. And I heard it ticking. Panini didn’t hear anything, but at some point she smelled something. She ate the first berry and a few days later the second. It happened in a fraction of a second, without my even having a chance. What to do? Either the dog can only go into the garden with a muzzle, which would be annoying and impractical, or I remove the berries. All of them, without exception. The ones that are still hanging on the bushes and the innumerable ones that are already on the ground. It would take hours. I looked at the dog and knew that I would not be able to relax until the berries were gone.

Berry bushes: Get rid of that stuff.

Before the education experts shake their heads reproachfully: Yes, you can teach a dog not to pick up anything from the ground. But I don’t care what you can do. I haven’t been able to. The chapter is not closed, but as long as the bun tends to be busy foraging for food, I have to take care of its safety in other ways. In short: I decided to tackle the berry harvest. The gathering and cutting was a drag and it actually took several hours. The berries that had fallen down could only be picked up one by one by hand, there was no other way to do it. I combed the earth and the adjacent grass. I crawled under the bushes eliminating everything that was small and round. I cut off every single umbel that still had berries on it. Finally it was done and the garden was safe again.

The disaster

The next day I woke up in an inferno. My whole body burned and itched. My shoulders, armpits, back, groin, and thighs were covered with immensely itchy wheals and red lumps. In the past I had to struggle with individual insect bites from time to time, but that exceeded everything. I started counting and got 74 stitches that I could see. None of my usual measures could alleviate the itching, at best apple cider vinegar brought a little relief. I sat down and googled. This attack was so characteristic, it had to be found out what had done me so. After a surprisingly short time, I had clarity. With my laurel harvest, I threw myself alive to a horde of autumn grass mites. Obviously they live in large numbers rent-free in our garden. To anticipate the most important thing: the animal has nothing. Absolutely nothing. Thank god.

May I introduce: mite. Autumn grass mite.

Autumn grass mites are small red arachnids that nobody needs. At least nobody who is not masochistic. They bloom in August and September, they love the sun and temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees. They hang around uselessly on the grass, between the plants and sometimes underground. They wait there until some unsuspecting animal comes by to pounce on it. Mice, cats, dogs and even birds: autumn grass mites take anything. Humans are to the mite what a smoker’s bar with slot machines, carnival decorations and microwave currywurst is to me: a false host. If you have a snack, you will die afterwards. Since the autumn grass mite is intellectually severely underexposed, it doesn’t know.

Unlike its likewise useless friend, the tick, the mite does not suck up blood. She does fretwork on the skin, dissolves it and mixes a delicious cellular juice spritzer with her spit. Depending on how long she is allowed to stay, this occupation can take up to several hours. Then she will probably fall backwards with a burp. From then on there is nothing to do with her. She prefers to look for places with thin skin. So she is not only dumb, but also lazy. The mite likes tight-fitting clothing such as waistbands, bra straps or elastic bands, so it is probably less strenuous to hold on to. In fact, there is less risk going into the garden naked than wearing a bikini. At least with regard to the autumn grass mite. By the way, not all victims of the mite look like me. Some don’t feel the bites even after days. Lucky ones. Apparently I am allergic to these things. In every sense.

What can be done against autumn grass mites.

I read a lot and came to the conclusion: nothing. You can hardly drive it out of the garden, anything that hits it would also hit other insects. If you are unlucky you will chase away the natural enemies like the millipede and the mite giggles. You can of course spray yourself with commercially available insecticides before going into the garden. It is worth a try. But here I am also reluctant, because I don’t want to confront my bun with toxic substances. It also licks my feet or puts its snout on my leg. So I’m more for the children’s version of the commercially available remedies. But does that help? It is worth a try. It is recommended that you change your clothes, wash your clothes and take a shower after each gardening. From my point of view not very practical and only partially feasible. After all, I just quickly water a few plants or let the panini down to pee. All I would do was do my laundry and take a shower. I just have to try it out to see how it can work. Long gardening work without protective measures is now taboo.

My animal knows nothing of any of this. It happily digs around under bushes and remains bite-free. Maybe I should just eat more rumen in the future. And now and then a raspberry.

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