Latin Name: Trombiculidae
Chiggers are very small, red mites that bite and cause intense irritation and itching. Chiggers are nearly microscopic: about 1/60 of an inch. The larval stage of the chigger feeds on skin cells from all kinds of animals, including humans. After they latch onto their host, they inject digestive enzymes in order to break down the skin. The enzyme creates a small hole called a stylostome which allows the chigger to feed on the inner parts of the skin. This is the cause of the Chigger bites’ irritation and swelling. They do not dig into the skin or suck blood, nor do they lay eggs under the skin as is commonly believed.
After the chigger detaches from the skin, they drop to the ground and mature into adults. In the later stages they are harmless to humans and other animals. After maturing, chiggers feed solely on plant material. Chiggers prefer to live in forests and grasslands with plenty of vegetation and are most plentiful in late spring and early summer. However, they can also live in drier conditions, where they can be found under brush or in shady areas.
What To Do If You Have Chiggers
There are several ways to avoid being bitten by chiggers:
- Wear clothing treated with naturally sourced insect repellent when venturing into the woods or other possible chigger habitats.
- When hiking, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to minimize your exposed skin.
- Be mindful that chiggers can also infest dogs, cats, and other pets, which can also be treated with non-toxic insect repellents.
Even if you are not currently experiencing any symptoms, if you recently ventured into tall grass or brush you may have been exposed to chiggers. There are several things you can do to prevent the situation from getting worse:
- Wash all of your clothes in hot, soapy water.
- Take a hot bath or shower, use soap and scrub thoroughly.
To prevent chiggers from infesting your yard, you’ll need to treat your grass with a naturally sourced pest repellent. At Cedarcide, we recommend using one of two products to treat your yard or garden: PCO Choice (a concentrate) or Yardsafe (a ready-to-use formula). The following video will help you better understand how to use these products: