If you have spent some time outside in your yard or garden and have found yourself with a number of itchy bites surrounded by a rash, you may be tempted to think these bites were caused by mosquitoes, ticks, or fleas. But, it is more likely that those bites were caused by another pest–a tiny little yard pest called a chigger..
What Do Chiggers Look Like?
Chiggers are not a type of bug, they are actually the larvae of mites, which are tiny arthropods that are closely related to ticks. Most mites are agricultural pests, but some can be parasitic on humans. Chiggers, also called red bugs, are six-legged juvenile mites from the family of Trombiculidae. Almost invisible to the naked eye (only 1/20 to 1/150th of an inch in length) the most common type of chiggers are bright red. But there are some that are orange or a light yellow color.
These tiny larval mites are found in all parts of the world, being most common in low-lying, damp areas such as forests, brush thickets, near swamps, in gardens, parks, or grassy areas near streams, and around rivers or lakes where the ground is moist. While some species infest dry areas, most can be found where there is plenty of wetness.
Why Are Chiggers So Bad?
The terrible thing about chiggers, is chiggers are terrible things. Like their relative, the tick, a chigger will attach to vegetation and wait for a host to pass by and then cling onto it. Once on a human host, they migrate on the skin to a place where they are able to feed. Common places on the body to find chigger bites are areas where there are wrinkles and folds and the skin in relatively thin places, such as behind the knees, in the armpits, or around the groin. Other places chiggers tend to stop and feed are ankles and spots where clothing compresses the skin.
Chigger bites can be extremely unpleasant. They cause reddish welts that are accompanied by a red rash and intense itching. Chigger bites may appear as raised red bumps or even blisters on the skin and, sometimes, when the itch is severe and infection occurs, medical attention may be needed.
How Do I Prevent Chiggars?
Here we will examine 2 kinds of chigger prevention: prevention from bites, and prevention from the chiggers themselves.
Prevention from bites:
- Insect repellant: If you are going to be working outside, apply mosquito repellent to your skin, or at least to your clothing, especially around your ankles and legs. You will want to spray areas that chiggers like to focus on such as the backs of the knees, the groin area, armpits, where clothing meets the skin, and other parts of the body where there are folds and wrinkles.
- Tuck pant legs in: If you plan to be out for awhile, especially if you will be in areas of tall grass, weeds, or other vegetation, consider tucking your pants into your socks to keep chiggers from gaining access to your skin.
- Stick to the path: When traveling in the woods, stay on the beaten path and avoid going into overgrown areas.
- Wash with soapy water: If you find you have picked up some chiggers, know that they can be easily washed off with soap and water. A good shower and washing all clothing in the hottest temperature will take care of chiggers for you.
Prevention from Chiggers
If you want to keep chiggers from coming into your yard in the first place, you can keep them out, largely by keeping the animals out that carry chiggers. Putting a fence around your gardens or fruit bushes will go a long way in preventing chiggers in your yard. An electrified fence is best, but this can be a complicated and costly endeavor if you have extensive gardens and berry bushes.
A better way to get rid of chiggers and prevent yourself from getting bitten is to partner with a pest control company. Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions can assist you by destroying chiggers in targeted areas such as gardens, outbuildings, driveways, paths, play areas, around mailboxes and more. You don't have to keep being bitten by chiggers, let Rottler help today.