Chiggers are a family of mites scientifically known as “Trombiculidae”. These parasitic mites are mostly found forests, grasslands, low damp areas like lakes, orchards beside the lakes and streams and in places like parks, lawns, and golf course. Summer is the time when they grow in number.
Their life cycle consists of four stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. At the larval stage, they thrive on the skin cells of animals including humans.
The six-legged parasitic larva crawls onto the host and injects a digestive enzyme into the skin which breaks the skin cell down.
They don’t bite but create a tiny hole in the skin and eat up the small parts of the inner skin. This causes severe itching and swelling which is accompanied by redness in the skin and pimple-like rashes.
After getting the required nourishment from the host the larvae drop onto the ground and form nymphs. After maturing they turn into an adult eight-legged mites. At this stage, they are harmless to humans but feed on plant material.
How Chiggers Look Like and What Do They Do?
Chiggers are tiniest possible creature measuring 1/150th of an inch. It nearly impossible to see them with naked eyes. Chiggers have a warm color like straw, yellow, orange and red.
The larvae have six-legs and the adults have eight. It is the larvae which are harmful to humans and animals as they feed on their skin cells. Once they mature to adulthood they feed on plant and vegetations.
Chiggers prefer to habitat in moist, shaded areas with heavy vegetation. A few species of chiggers also like relatively dry places as well. They tend to form clusters in certain locations as small females lay eggs in one location.
Causes of Chiggers in the Yard (Garden/Lawn)
Chiggers live on the ground, around shrubs and plants and basically, anywhere vegetation is able to protect them from direct sun.
- Overgrown lawns
- Covered ground
- Leaf Litter
- Weedy areas
- Densely planted trees or shrubs
Most Effective Ways to Getting Rid of Chiggers in Your Yard
Groom the Open Space (Yard/Lawn)
Try to keep the lawn trimmed and have short grasses especially at the edges where the grass meets the woody areas. Never allow leaves to accumulate in the garden. Also, keep the lawn clean. Regularly prune the plants to reduce overgrowth and eliminate shady areas in the garden where chiggers can populate.
Use Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
It is a natural pesticide that treats chiggers. Sprinkle this product over the affected places and the chiggers will leave the places soon. This will help to keep your backyard free from chiggers.
Keep Your Pets Protected
Chiggers are different from both spider and clover mites in that they like to feed on flesh. They will readily bite dogs, cats, livestock, birds, people or just about any animal they can find.
Bathe your pets regularly with warm water and flea and tick shampoo. This will prevent them from chigger attacks and infections. Try to keep your pets away from chigger affected area.
If you feel that they have been through such places bathe them immediately with warm water and the soapy solution and rub that solution evenly over the body of the pet. In case they bit consult your vet.
Keep Your House Clean
If you think that your house has been a hiding place of chiggers, clean your home with warm water that is at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit hot. Clean every nook and corner of the home diligently.
During summer ensure that you vacuum your home regularly. This is the time when chiggers grow more. Clean the carpets and rugs in the living room with carpet shampoo.
Take Precautions While Outside
Try to avoid entering area with tall grasses and try to move aside tall trees. Tall grasslands are favorite places of chiggers to hid and breed.
If you come in contact with such tall grasses, the best way to protect yourself is by taking a hot water bath.
The quickest way to prevent chiggers approaching you while you roam freely in parks or picnic spots is to sprinkle some sulfur powder in your shoes and socks and even in your shirt. The strong order of sulfur will keep them away from your skin.
Try to wear long pants and long sleeves during outdoor activity along with high shoes or boots. Pant legs should be tucked into boots if possible.
Some more Preventive Steps to Keep Chiggers Away
- Keeping your skin covered while entering places with tall grasses.
- Wash clothing that has been worn outdoors with hot water.
- Seal off all the openings of your clothes so that small creatures like chiggers cannot access your skin.
- Brush exposed skin after every 30 minutes.
- Resist the temptation of sitting or lying on the ground where grasses are taller.
You can spray diethyltoluamide (DEET)contained repellents to the exposed areas of your body like arms, legs, and hands.
This will protect you from chiggers and other mites. The effect lasts four hours long.
Also consider applying permethrin, another effective repellent against bugs, to both sides of your clothes at least one day before wearing. This bleach will help you stay protected.
Take Help from Professional Pest Control Operators
When things go out of your hand despite repeated trying, resort to professional pest control operators who have strong chemicals with powerful destructive capacity. For chigger control, it may require multiple applications in spring.
Some Safety Measures while Applying Pesticides
Focus should be paid on the affected area of the backyard and not the whole of it. Pesticides should never be overused.
Keep children and pets away from the treated area until they are dried completely. Animals should not eat plants from the treated place.
If you decide to apply pesticide yourself get in touch with the local cooperative extension office and inquire about the pesticides that will be most effective for chiggers in your area and how to safely apply them.
Follow the instructions on the label in toto. For safety always try wearing gloves when using insecticides.
Over the Counter Treatments (OTC)
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications can be used if necessary for control of symptoms of chigger bites. Anti-itch creams and medications are effective treatments to soothe chigger bites.
With these tips, you can be safe and protected from the harmful effects of bug bites. They are some fastest measures and remedies to keep you happily away from mites and enjoy the beauty of the flowers in your garden.