If you plan on spending any significant amount of time outdoors, especially if you have young children or pets outdoors, you’ll need to be aware of chiggers. If you have a chigger infestation you’ll most likely be bitten which will lead to painful and itchy welts. Generally, chigger bites aren’t life-threatening, but there have been cases where patients have to visit a doctor due to the severity of chigger bites. In this guide we’re going to break down what chiggers are, where chiggers live, what they look like, how to get rid of them, and more!
What Are Chiggers:
Chiggers are in the arthropod family known by the scientific species name of Trombiculidae, and they have quite a few different nicknames such as itch mites, scrub mites, harvest mites, duck-shooters, and more! These small insects can be extremely annoying and are known for the itchy bites they produce.
Chiggers are closely related to ticks and look relatively similar to ticks except they are generally red, while some can be black.
What Do Chiggers Look Like:
Chiggers are hard to identify with the naked eye because they are so incredibly small. They measure about 1/20th of an inch to 1/150th of an inch long which makes them near invisible to the naked eye.
Most often chiggers are bright red and look very similar to clover mites, but they can often come in orange, brown and black coloring as well. They have 6 legs when they are in their juvenile form and their adult form have 8 legs.
What Do Chiggers Eat?:
It’s a common misconception that chiggers suck and feed on blood similar to Ticks, but that’s actually not true. Instead of feeding on blood, chiggers feed on the broken-down skin cells of humans and animals.
They accomplish this by living in grass or other vegetation and wait for a human or animal to brush past the grass, and then they jump onto their new host. This allows them to have a new food source as well as be transported to new areas.
Chiggers also don’t burrow into your skin, they cling to your skin or clothing and use their mouthparts to pierce your skin. Once they’ve pierced your skin they actually use a special enzyme that slowly breaks down your skin tissue and allows the chigger to feed on the broken-down skin cells.
A chigger will generally find a new host every 4-5 days, so they’ll feed for a few days and then find someone or something new.
What Do Chigger Bites Look Like?:
Since chiggers are constantly on the lookout for a new host to feed on, you’ll need to be aware of what chigger bites look like so that you can know when your property has chiggers.
Chigger bites are no fun, and they will cause red raised welts within a few hours of being bitten. They can also be followed by red rash surrounding the welt which can look similar to eczema and will be quite itchy.
For most people, these bites will cause generally discomfort and itchiness for a few days. For some, medical attention might be needed if the pain or itchiness is too much to bear. Thankfully though, these insects aren’t known to pass any long-term diseases such as Lyme disease.
Where Are Chiggers Found?:
Chiggers are found throughout the world, but they are most often found in low-lying areas such as forests and thickets that have long grass or shrubs which provide perfect protection from predators. They love areas that are slightly damp as well such as swamps and thickets.
Chiggers are generally only seen during Spring and Summer. During the winter and cooler months, they will burrow in the soil and hibernate until warmer months.
Where Do Chiggers Come From?:
If you are noticing chiggers in your lawn or property, they’ll generally be brought into your property by other wildlife. Since chiggers feed on the broken-down skin cells of humans and animals, if you reduce the amount of wildlife in your backyard, then you should help to reduce the introduction of chiggers into your property.
How To Prevent And Get Rid Of Chiggers In Your Yard:
If you have noticed chiggers or have been receiving chigger bites in your backyard, then it’s time for your to act to help send these pesky insects packing! Here are a few tips on getting rid of chiggers and preventing their bites:
- Wear insect repellent with DEET whenever you’re spending extended amounts of time outside.
- Reduce the open contact of bare skin. This means wear pants and long sleeves or even tuck your pants into your socks.
- Avoid sitting stationary in or around long grass and vegetation. This would allow chiggers to easily jump from the vegetation to you.
- Clean up and mow your yard to help keep it tidy. Chiggers are attracted to long grass and vegetation which allows them to jump to a new host. If you keep your lawn neat and tidy, it makes your lawn less appealing as a home for chiggers.
- If you’ve been bitten by chiggers you should take a bath using soapy water, this will help remove the enzyme which is breaking down your skin tissue and remove any additional chiggers from your skin.
- I’d also recommend taking Benadryl if you’re feeling itchy as this will help reduce the allergic reaction your body is having.
Chiggers can be extremely annoying especially if you’re consistently being bitten in your own yard. Although these itchy bugs can be an annoying pest, thankfully you can do a few things to get rid of chiggers and reduce your chances of being bitten. Overall, if you want them gone for good, you can always hire a professional to spray your yard!