Chiggers! If you've ever dealt with these tiny bugs, we could stop this article right here with that one word of exclamation. If the word chigger invokes an instant surge of frustration in your chest, then there is a good chance you've already taken measures to learn how to prevent bites. But, while this article is targeted at those who are just now finding out how horrible chiggers are, there are still probably a few tidbits that can help even the veteran chigger fighter.
What are chiggers?
Chiggers belong to the family of arthropods known as Trombiculidae and they go by many names: red bugs, itch mites, scrub mites, harvest mites, duck-shooters, and many more. These tiny mites often get their traits confused with scabies mites. Though chiggers are miserable pests, for sure, they aren't going to burrow under your skin.
What do chiggers look like?
If you want to know what a chigger looks like, you'll probably have to get out a magnifying glass to take a look. A chigger can be as small as .15 mm in length when they are in their larval stage and don't grow to be much more than 1 mm as an adult. If you do happen to look at a chigger through magnification, you will see that they are reddish orange or bright red bugs with six or eight legs. If you see six legs, you're looking at a chigger in its larval stage. In this stage, it will have the reddish orange coloring. If you see eight, it is either a nymph or an adult. In this stage, it will be a bright red color.
Where do chiggers live?
These little bugs hang out on vegetation, especially vegetation that is dominated by shrubs. They also have a preference for grassy locations with undisturbed soil where it is easier for them to latch onto a passing host creature.
What do chiggers eat?
It depends on which chiggers you are referring to. Chigger adults mostly feed on the eggs of isopods. The larvae of chiggers are parasitic by nature and prefer humans, birds, snakes, and small mammals as hosts. These are the chiggers that leave those horrible red bumps on your skin.
What do chigger bites look like?
Bug bites share traits, so it is difficult to give a simple answer to this question. For most people, bites from chiggers will have a solid, itchy center, that is likely to have a scab if you've been scratching those bites. And the bite wounds will have a rashy, circular area around each wound. Since chiggers bite multiple times, these bites will appear random on the skin, unlike the bites from bed bugs and other pests that feed multiple times. Chigger bites are also likely to be on the lower legs, or on areas of the body where clothing touches tightly against the skin. The center of these wounds are usually raised bumps, but not always.
Backyard Chigger Prevention
There is really only one way to prevent chigger bites when you go anywhere away from your home, and that is to apply an insect repellent to any area of your skin that will come into contact with vegetation. These are tiny bugs that can crawl up your body and find every little hole to get in and attach themselves to your skin. But, in your backyard, there is one powerful thing you can do to stop those chiggers from ruining your outdoor fun. Hire an educated and experienced pest control professional to provide a targeted application of EPA-approved products to areas where chiggers hide and breed. Sure, there are some personal measures you can take, like keeping your grass trimmed low, wearing insect repellent, wearing loose fitting clothing, making sure your skin does not come in contact with vegetation, washing your clothing when you come back inside, and always taking a hot shower after being in your yard, but it is so much nicer to have a yard that is free of chiggers.
If you need assistance controlling chiggers in your yard, or worse, inside your home, and you live in our Missouri service area, let the educated and experienced pest control technicians at Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions help you take your yard back. No yard should ever have these nearly invisible pests.