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Source: S. Rae from Scotland, UK, Psylliodes sp. - Flickr - S. Rae, edited from Plantopedia, CC BY 2.0

Every gardener knows the problem: After weeding or mowing the lawn, reddish spots appear on the skin. We will show you how to recognize a flea bite and what characteristics distinguish it from those of grass mites.

In a nutshell

  • tiny leaf beetles that live near the ground
  • feed on plants
  • have no mandibular tools
  • only saliva causes redness
  • recognizable by slight reddening and itching

flea bite: typical features

Beetroot fleas are not really fleas, but different types of leaf beetles. Their common traits are their fondness for all things green - and their ability to jump very far compared to their tiny size. At the slightest disturbance, such as typical garden work such as weeding, raking or hoeing, the animals flee and often end up on humans. Since flea beetles have no mandibles, they naturally cannot bite. Nevertheless, you can then discover reddish spots on the skin, which are caused by an allergic reaction to the beetles' saliva. The patches may itch a little but are not dangerous. Unlike other garden dwellers such as ticks, flea beetles do not transmit diseases.

Fleas do not bite, but often leave skin reddened.

Allergic reaction

The only symptoms you should be careful of are:

  • severe redness, red spots
  • severe swelling
  • hot-to-the-touch “bite” spot
  • blistering

This is a severe allergic reaction that should be treated with an anti-allergy medication. You should therefore consult your family doctor, a dermatologist or an allergist.

Notice: Fleas love hot and dry weather, which is why they are particularly active in midsummer and a "bite" when gardening is therefore very likely. You can protect yourself with long-sleeved clothing and gardening gloves.

Differentiation from grass mites

Grass mites belong to the arachnids and are also known as harvest mites or autumn mites. The little animals, which are only about three millimeters in size, live below the surface of the earth and do not bite people - in contrast to their tiny, very aggressive larvae that are hardly visible to the naked eye. These lurk on blades of grass and wait there for human and animal hosts to pass by. They are looking for a warm, moist, well-perfused area with thin skin, which is why the characteristic wheals often appear in the hollows of the knees, the groin, the pubic area or under the armpits. Once there, the mite larvae, which are only 0.2 millimeters in size, inject the skin with softening enzymes and finally suck up the cell juice and lymph. The following symptoms are characteristic of a grass mite bite:

The damage caused by grass mites manifests itself in many closely spaced bites.
  • many smaller bites next to each other
  • small reddish spots with wheals
  • possibly itching
  • possibly a slight fever

It is also typical that the symptoms mentioned only appear after about 24 hours. So if you notice such itchy wheals and mowed the lawn the day before, grass mites are most likely the cause.

Notice: Unlike many other stinging and biting insects, grass mites do not transmit disease.

frequently asked Questions

What helps after a flea bite?

It is best to first cool the area with a clean cloth soaked in cold water. Vinegar or a little lemon juice also works well against the itching, but can cause a slight burning sensation. Alternatively, cut open an onion and lightly rub the cut surface back and forth on the bite area. If you don't want to resort to home remedies, you can find various remedies for relieving insect stings and bites in pharmacies.

How can I fight flea beetles?

So that you don't have to be constantly annoyed by a flea bite, prevention is the best measure. To do this, you should hoe more frequently, especially in crop beds, and keep the surface of the soil moist - the beetles don't like either of these things, but many vegetable plants do. Mulching or foiling the beds also offers good protection. You should also put onions, garlic and spinach as companion plants in the bed to keep flea beetles and other pests away.

Where are flea beetles most common?

Fleas can be found on almost all ornamental and useful plants. However, they particularly like cruciferous plants such as cabbage, radishes, radishes, turnips or also levkojen or gold lacquer. The small beetles prefer delicate, soft plant tissue, which is why they are mainly found on young leaves and shoots. They stay mostly near the ground.

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