What Are Chiggers and What Do They Look Like?
Red bugs, mower’s mites, berry bugs, harvest bugs, chiggers—the arachnids scientifically known as trombiculidaemites 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 employ a repellent when venturing into chigger territory. Because of the toxicity of traditional bug sprays, we recommend using only natural, non-toxic pesticides/repellents. For the sake of your pets 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 such 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 that chigger populations are accidentally 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 feel chiggers have invaded your lawn & garden, or if you want to prevent them from doing so in the first place, you’ll need to treat your lawn with an all natural 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 home and lawn chigger-free.
Of all the pests people hate to see in their homes, cockroaches are right at the very top—and for good reason. While they don’t regularly bite or sting like other household pests—such as bed bugs, ants or fleas—roaches can be extremely bad for your health. In addition to worsening symptoms in asthma sufferers, roaches are known to carry over 50 different pathogens, including pneumonia, meningitis, salmonella, staphylococcus (staph infection) and streptococcus (strep throat). In other words, if you have roaches, you need to get rid of them as soon as possible.
Roaches, however, can be very difficult to eliminate. It’s no accident they’ve existed for over 300 million years, predating even dinosaurs. Their unique ability to hide and to live off nearly any food source—from feces to glue to other dead roaches—has made roaches one of our planet’s most durable organisms. If you have a roach infestation, don’t worry, there’s no reason to panic. With patience, consistent effort and a little know-how, you can send these disgusting insects packing. Here’s 10 ways to get rid of roaches naturally
Starve Them With Cleanliness
The smallest crumbs and spills can feed a roach for weeks, even months. Cleanliness needs to be a top priority. Floors, counter tops, flooring, appliances, cabinetry, sinks, dishes, back splashes—your entire house needs to be clean and free of food debris at all times (don’t forget to clean behind appliances!). We find natural disinfecting wipes help speed up the cleaning process.
Remove Clutter—Both Inside and Outside
Roaches use clutter—especially stacks of paper—to both hide and breed. Every instance of clutter is a roach nest just waiting to happen. If you’re experiencing a roach infestation, you need to keep your home as clean and free of clutter as possible. As far as outside, wood piles, brush, yard clippings, moist mulch, lawn equipment and furniture are all possible roach homes, and should also be removed.
Seal Up Your Food
Leaving unsealed food out in the open is an easy way to invite roaches over for a meal. From leftovers to dry items like cereal, all the food in your home needs to be sealed. If you have an active roach infestation, this includes unexpected things like pet food and fruit bowls, too. Ziplock bags work, but hard plastic Tupperware-like containers are even better. Make sure the outside of your sealed containers are free of sticky residues and food debris, too. And always thoroughly wash and rinse bottles and cans before recycling them—roaches are attracted to any residual sugar, no matter how small the amount.
Remove Their Water Source
While roaches can sometimes go weeks to months without food, they can go only a few days without water. A single drop of water can sustain a roach for several days. So, successfully ridding your home of excess moisture is essential to eliminating a roach infestation. Never let water sit for prolonged periods of time, such as in sinks, potted plants, and pet dishes.
It’s also important to address the following areas of concern: leaking plumbing, sinks, bathtubs, basements, crawl spaces, A/C units, appliance drip trays, and attics. In the case of severe infestations, you might need to wipe down your shower and sinks regularly to avoid even the smallest sources of moisture (damp rags, towels and sponges should not be left out, either).
Take Out The Trash Daily
Trash cans are a buffet for roaches. To prevent and repel these pests, you’ll need to take out the trash daily. Trashcans should also remain firmly sealed at all times, and be cleaned regularly to limit food debris and other residues.
Seal Your Home
While necessary, weatherstripping windows and doors only goes so far. When it comes to roaches, you have to be diligent, and go even further—no crack, crevice or hole can go unsealed. In this regard, caulk is your best friend.
Indoors: fill any cracks/holes in cabinets, pantries, counter tops, piping, walls, ceilings, attics, crawl spaces, basements, under sinks, floorboards, and anywhere else roaches could enter your home. Outside: fill any cracks in foundations, roofing, and the exterior walls of your home. It’s advisable to use plugs or stoppers to seal drains, sinks and bathtubs when not in use, too.
Make a Natural Homemade Repellent
A mixture of 30% peppermint oil to 70% water makes for a natural, non-toxic indoor roach repellent. Spray floors, counter tops, cabinets, window sills, doorways, and other problem areas to deter roaches. Cedar oil works, too.
Have catnip lying around? If so, you’re in luck: catnip is another natural roach repellent. In 1999, Researchers at Iowa State University discovered that catnip—specifically a chemical in catnip called nepetalactone—successfully repels roaches.
A DIY Roach Trap
There are several easy but highly effective roach traps you can make at home. They all work on the same basic premise: (1) bait the bottom of a container (like a bottle) with something that will attract roaches (like sugar, fruit or bread), and (2) make sure to build the trap in such a way that roaches can easily enter the container, but not escape. This last feature can be done by lining the walls of the container with something slippery like petroleum jelly, or by creating a funnel at the top of the container. Place these traps in high traffic roach areas and leave them overnight. Continue this approach until you no longer capture additional roaches.
Natural, non-toxic pesticides are the easiest and most effective solution for eliminating and preventing roach infestations. Because roaches often enter your home from your yard, it’s important to treat both inside and outside your house. We recommend using Cedarcide Original for indoor use—as both a spot killer and a repellent—and PCO Choice concentrate or ready-to-use Yardsafe for outdoor use.
Watch this video to learn how to properly treat your lawn with PCO Choice
DIY Roach Bait
Many experts advocate using a boric acid mixture to bait and kill roaches. While this approach is effective, it also poses health risks to pets and children. To avoid these risks, we advise using a 50/50 natural mixture of baking soda and sugar. Thoroughly mix the two ingredients and sprinkle the bait around roach problem areas and suspected entrance points—like windowsills, baseboards and doorways. Continue using this method until your roach infestation disappears.
Have you ever wondered how bugs disappear in winter and then emerge so quickly in spring? Most people think that bugs either migrate or die during winter. What they don’t realize is that many insects continue to live among us during colder months.
How do they survive?
Many species such as butterflies, dragonflies, moths and beetles migrate in large groups to warmer areas during the winter. Distance depends on species but some have been known to travel several thousand miles.
Some insects such as bees, ants and termites practice communal living in order to survive on stored food and a colony for support.
Most insects seek shelter in the winter. This could be something such as a brush pile, a hollow log, a dog house or your home.
Many insects have developed strategies for surviving harsh conditions including controlling their body’s ability to freeze.
Similar to hibernation, some bugs enter a paused period of development called Diapause. This allows them to slow their metabolism and become inactive. This can take place in insects at all life stages and some larvae can freeze and then resume developing when temperatures rise.
How do I keep them out of my home?
The best way to keep bugs from entering your home is to make sure to block all possible entry points. Doing a thorough perimeter check around you home at least twice a year is good practice for bug prevention.
Areas to check could include but are not limited to:
Note: Only you know your home, be sure to check any additional areas that could be a threat.
What kind of bugs are most common inside the home?
Fleas are one of the most common pests that we get calls about during winter. If fleas are able to live indoors they will continue to multiply in your home. Performing regular flea checks on your pets as well as using natural preventatives is key in keeping fleas from becoming a problem.
If you do see fleas, be sure to wash any bedding, clothes or items that you believe could also have been exposed. Vacuuming floors and furniture will pick up any eggs that may be hiding in the fibers. Spraying down all areas with a natural flea spray will help kill existing fleas as well as repel more from coming in. (For bigger infestations, check out this natural home treatment kit.)
Bugs to watch for outside of your house
Do you stack firewood near your home? If so, you could be inviting wood boring bugs to your home. Make sure that you do not store wood inside your home and only bring it indoors when you are ready to use it. This will keep bugs that have been harboring in the wood from escaping inside your home.
Even though it’s year round, pest prevention should be easy. Knowing how to keep them out and what to use when you do see one is what’s most important.
– Ticks are parasitic organisms that feed on the blood of their host.
– Although commonly thought to be an insect, ticks are actually arachnids which means they are more like spiders.
– The most common ticks are the deer tick (also called blacklegged tick), the lone star tick and the dog tick.
– Ticks can be active in temperatures above 45 degrees.
– Pets and people can contract multiple diseases from a single bite.
– Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Ehrlichia are all contracted by tick bites.
– Dogs are more likely to contract ticks than cats.
Top Places To Check For Ticks
- Under Legs
- Between Toes
How to remove a Tick
Use tweezers to grip the tick as closely to the skin as possible. Slowly pull upward and try to keep the tick intact,. Leaving the head or any body parts in the skin can lead to an infection. Do not touch the tick with your hands as they can carry many diseases. Place the tick into a sealed container and mark the date. If you or your pet begins showing any unusual symptoms your medial examiner will likely want to test the tick. After the removal has taken place, thoroughly wash the area with rubbing alcohol, soap and water.
Preventing Tick Bites
- Wear the right clothing. Try not to leave any bare skin where ticks could easily attach. Wear long sleeves and pants. It’s also easier to spot ticks in light colored clothing.
- Use natural insect repellent.
- Stay on the trails. When possible, stay on walking trails and away from overgrown areas where ticks may hide.
- Check for ticks throughout the day.
- Eliminate their habitats. Make your property less friendly to ticks by keeping your lawn and plants trimmed. Spray a chemical-free insecticide to kill existing bugs and prevent future infestations.
- Check your pets. Regularly checking for ticks and using a extra-strength tick repellent such as TickShield will help prevent pets from bringing ticks into your home.
The best way to avoid encounters with pesky bugs is to take preventative measures. Use these tips to reduce unwanted pests.
1.) Maintain Your Yard
Prevents: Ticks, Mosquitoes, Chiggers, Flies, Ants
Insects find overgrown areas to be a perfect place to call home. Mowing regularly and removing debris from your yard is one of the first steps you should take in bug-proofing your home. Treating your lawn with a natural pesticide and insect-repelling mulches will also stop and prevent future infestations.
2.) Wipe Floors & Counters
Prevents: Ants, Flies, Cockroaches
Insects need food and water just like we do, so leftover crumbs or spills can quickly turn into a tasty buffet for them. Storing food in airtight containers and keeping your floors and counters clean and is key. Vacuuming regularly is also important. For active bug problems, sprinkle home-safe granules or use an all-purpose bug spray to treat areas known to be affected. (Fun fact, Cedar Oil is safe to use in all food prep areas!)
3.) Remove Standing Water
Prevents: Mosquitoes, Flies
Mosquitoes rely on water for both feeding and breeding. Remove standing water from trash cans, pots, furniture, buckets, etc. If you have birdbaths, be sure to change the water every 2-3 days. If you cannot remove the standing water, add a small amount of PCO Choice to the water in order to repel mosquitoes from breeding there. Regularly removing debris and leaves from gutters and drains is also important as insects will often hide in these areas.
4.) Seal Your Doors & Windows
Prevents: All bugs
It’s good practice to annually check your doors and windows for cracks or openings. Bugs (and other critters) look for places like this to gain access to your home. A simple weatherstrip or door sealing kit can often do the trick if you find openings. Also, spraying your doors and window seals with an all-purpose repellent will deter them from entering your home.
5.) Clean Trash Cans
Prevents: Mosquitoes, Flies
For a number of reasons including food and shelter, bugs love trash cans. Regularly wiping down your trash cans and spraying an all-natural repellent will significantly cut down or eliminate this problem.
6.) Treat Your Pets
Prevents: Fleas, Ticks, Mosquitoes
One of the quickest ways fleas and ticks enter your home is through your pets. Spraying your pets with natural flea & tick spray before going outside is a safe way to keep fleas and ticks away. Avoid heavily wooded areas during peak tick season and always do a tick inspection after outdoor activities.