How to Prevent and Control Chiggers

Home & Garden

Chiggers are one nasty pest. They go by a variety of common names – Red Bugs, Harvest Bugs, Mowers Mites and others but if you’ve ever come in contact with one, you won’t ever forget it.

Technically, these pests are not insects but are arachnids in the same family with spiders and ticks. They are found in every country and love to be in moist, grassy areas. Edges of the forests are good as well as the average American back yard. They lie in wait about a foot off the ground waiting for a victim to pass by and then they latch on.

The Trombiculidae (/trɒmbɪˈkjuːlɪdiː/; also called berry bugs, harvest mites, red bugs, scrub-itch mites, and aoutas) are a family of mites. The best known of the Trombiculidae are chiggers. The two widely recognized definitions of “chigger” are the scientific (or taxonomic) and the common, the latter of which can be found in English and medical dictionaries. According to most dictionaries, the several species of Trombiculidae that bite their host in their larval stage and cause “intense irritation” or “a wheal, usually with severe itching and dermatitis”, are called chiggers. The scientific definition seemingly includes many more, but not all species of Trombiculidae.

Chiggers are most active when the soil temperature is between 77 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit and will die if it gets below 42 degrees. Therefore, Spring, Summer and Fall are when they are in search of food. Once on a victim, they travel in search or skin to do their damage and when you understand what chiggers do to your body, you will certainly choose to avoid them!

They actually do not bite, they inject their spit! Yes, they have sharp claws that poke holes in the skin to inject their saliva. Their saliva destroys skin cells and it becomes a mushy mess. Then the chiggers slop up that mush for food.

What is left behind is destroyed skin that itches, hurts and a chigger ‘bite’ takes a very long time to heal.

The more Chiggers that find you, the more likely your reaction can be misdiagnosed as a rash. But this is not a rash, it is each individual injection site reacting to the saliva. YUCK!

So how can you avoid being made mush meat by tiny bugs?

First step, it helps to wear long sleeves and long pants with your pants tucked into your socks to avoid exposing skin. But that is easier said than done in the prime temperatures between 77 and 86 degrees! You can also avoid the areas that Chiggers like to dwell in – but there are other ways to protect yourself without avoidance techniques.

Before going outside, spray yourself with your favorite all-natural pest control product. Make sure your product has met rigorous safety testing and has clear instructions. DO NOT use toxic, synthetic chemical pesticides because you will be absorbing the toxins into your skin.

Chiggers like to burrow where clothing is tight so spray thoroughly along the waistband and near undergarments. It is also smart to spray inside socks and in the cuffs of a shirt. If you are outside for a long time or if you are doing strenuous activity, it is a good idea to reapply.

As an extra layer of protection, you can add ¼ to ½ cup of your favorite all-natural pest control (water-soluble) product to the fabric softener cycle of your laundry. This will infuse your clothes with an extra layer of protection that will let the chiggers know that you are off limits!

Louise Hodges is the owner of Greenbug, Inc. which offers all-natural pest control products that are alternatives to synthetic chemical pesticides.

Greenbug products control pests you don’t want such as Chiggers, Ants, Roaches, Bed Bugs, Mosquitoes, Fleas, Ticks, Mites, etc. but cause no harm to humans, animals, the environment or beneficial creatures.

The Greenbug System delivers Greenbug through your irrigation system to create pest-free areas wherever water is directed.

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