What Are Chiggers and What Do They Look Like?
Red bugs, mower’s mites, berry bugs, harvest bugs, chiggers—the arachnids scientifically known as trombiculidae mites go by many names. Ranging in size from 0.3mm to 0.4mm (1/60 of an inch), chiggers are nearly microscopic organisms known for their extremely itchy “bites.” Most active during spring, summer and fall, chiggers have four life stages: egg, larvae, nymph and adult. But only the larval stage individuals—in other words, the babies—are parasitic.
Found in moist vegetation worldwide (like grassy lawns, bushes and forests), these red-orange mites attach themselves to a host—a reptile, rabbit, insect, or human for example—in order to feed on their skin. Contrary to popular belief, chiggers do not bite or burrow into their hosts; instead, they inject digestive enzymes into their host’s skin in order to create a hole from which they can feed. After sucking up this liquified skin meal, the baby chigger drops to the ground, where it matures into its next life stage.
What Do Chigger “Bites” Look Like?
Appearing 6-48 hours after the chigger has fed, chigger “bites” consist of red bumps infamous for their intense itchiness. These irritating lesions usually occur in clusters in or around areas where skin and clothing are in close proximity—like the waist, ankles, armpits, crotch-area and back. While the first several days are the worst, these bumps can persist for weeks, even months in a milder form.
How Do You Prevent Chigger “Bites?”
Like with mosquitos and ticks, you need to use a repellent when venturing into chigger territory. Because of the toxicity of traditional bug sprays, we recommend using only non-toxic pesticides and repellents. For the sake of your pet’s well-being, treat them to repel chiggers, too. For additional protection, we recommend wearing long clothing when walking in suspected chigger areas, being sure to tuck pants into socks, and shirt into pants. After returning from these areas, bathe immediately in warm, soapy water. All possibly infested clothing should be promptly washed in warm/hot water, too.
How Do You Get Chiggers?
This a two part question: (1) How does one get bitten by chiggers? And (2) How do chiggers get into our lawns. Walking through a wooded area, tall grass or weeds, or on lawns not treated with pesticides, is how most people pick up their first chigger “bites”. This is also a common way chigger populations are introduced into our yards, as chiggers readily hitch a ride on our clothing only to be dropped somewhere near our homes. Other common hosts such as rodents, turtles, small birds, and more also contribute to the spread of chiggers—which is why a regular outdoor pest-control regimen is encouraged during the warmer seasons.
What To Do If You Have Chiggers
If you fear chiggers have invaded your lawn, or if you want to prevent that from happening, you’ll need to treat your lawn with a naturally sourced outdoor pest control solution. In the heavy chigger months between spring and fall, we recommend treating your entire yard at least once per month to help keep your yard chigger-free.