Chiggers are the tiny larval form of mites that can be annoying, feeding on the skin of animals and humans. They’re known to pester homeowners and pets with their bites.
How to get rid of chiggers in your yard naturally? To get rid of chiggers in your yard naturally, keep your lawn mowed, plant marigolds, and sprinkle diatomaceous earth around. You can also spray vinegar-based solution or a mixture of witch hazel extracts and essential oil on the infested areas.
These red bugs are prevalent in numbers in early summer and are active from late spring to fall. Their bites cause excessive itchiness and some tiny, reddish welts. This article will identify what chiggers are, where can they usually be found, their effects on humans and pets, and how to control them. So, keep on reading to find out how to solve this irritable pest problem!
What Are Chiggers?
Chiggers are parasitic larval-stage mites. They bite into the skin of their warm-blooded hosts, inject digestive enzymes which cause the skin to disintegrate, and feed on decomposed tissue.
These mites don’t burrow or settle within your skin, opposed to popular belief. They’re known for their red, itchy bites that can swell and cause infection if scratched.
What Does a Chigger Bug Look Like?
Chiggers are hardly visible to the naked eye. They’re 1/150 inches in length and might need to use a magnifying glass just to see them.
These bugs have inherent red or orange color. However, if they’ve fed on their host’s skin cells, their color will turn into yellowish color.
Where Are Chiggers Found?
Chiggers are typically seen in damp, low-lying areas. These may include the following:
- Grassy areas
- Brush thickets
- Blackberry patches
They can also be detected along the swamp’s margins, parks, and around lakes, streams, and rivers, where the ground is moist.
Additionally, these mites are also common in vegetation near ground level. This is why you can get infested with chiggers if your clothing or skin comes in contact with the infested ground-level foliage.
Can Chiggers Live In Your Yard?
Chiggers can live in the yard, mainly if your grasses are long and unattended. They also prefer these moist and bushy areas to live and nest. Thus, it’s crucial to trim your lawn regularly to prevent creating havens for red mites in your vicinity.
How Long Do Chiggers Live In the Grass?
Chiggers usually stay attached to their prey for four days before falling off. Furthermore, they can live up to two months in areas with tall grasses and weeds, along with pastures, roadside ditches, and woodlots.
Do Chiggers Bite?
Chiggers do bite, which causes extreme itchiness. They mostly bite in thinned skin areas, like wrinkles and folds. Their bites are commonly seen in the following body areas:
- Folds at the back of the knee
Chiggers can infest and relocate onto the human skin, as for a feeding site. Thus, it’s best to get rid of them as soon as possible.
What Are Chigger Bites Like?
Chigger bites are pimple-like itchy red bumps. They also resemble blisters or small hives and are typically found around warm skin folds, waist, and ankles.
Their bites also get bigger and itchier as days pass. The itching will remain for several days.
How to Treat Chigger Bites on Humans?
Although chiggers are known to be annoying, they don’t carry disease. Luckily, you can treat their bites at home in the following ways:
- Apply calamine lotion or other anti-itch creams to ease the itching.
- Hold a cold washcloth over the area bites to soothe the itching.
- Scrub the chigger bites thoroughly with soap and water, removing the chiggers attached to the skin.
- Take antihistamines orally to help alleviate itching, especially at night.
Can Chigger Bites Make You Sick?
Chigger bites don’t carry or transmit diseases. This is because they feed on skin cells, not on blood.
Never scratch the chigger bites as they may lead to impetigo, a bacterial skin infection with crusts and pus around the bites. It can also increase the swelling, redness, and warmth, called cellulitis.
Make sure to keep fingernails short to prevent skin damage due to scratching. When this happens, you might need to take antibiotics for skin infection, as prescribed by your doctor.
Do Chiggers Bite Dogs?
Chiggers do bite dogs. Although dogs are coated with thick hairs, they’re not immune to chigger bites.
These red bugs can pose the same threat of infection to your pet, just as you do. You can tell that chiggers have bitten your dogs if you see the following on your dog’s skin:
- Red bumps
- Broken skin
- Rashes (on their underside, legs, ears, face, and head)
- Alopecia (in severe stages)
How to Treat Chiggers in Your Dog?
Your dog can get these chigger bites when they’ve been exposed outside, particularly in areas where chiggers infest. Once you notice your pet has come in contact with these mites, make sure to give the following:
- Soapy bath: This will aid in removing chiggers and is necessary before administering treatment.
- Oatmeal bath: This will soothe your pet’s irritated and itchy skin.
- Use Epsom salt: If the oatmeal bath doesn’t work, you may use Epsom salt to get rid of the chiggers.
- Pat an ice pack: This will calm your dog’s irritated skin.
- Use green tea: To rinse and help calm your pet’s skin.
- Use of hydrocortisone: This will help treat your dog’s skin condition.
However, if none of these methods works, you can finally bring your pet to the veterinarian as necessary.
How to Treat Chiggers in Your Home?
To manage chiggers in your home, consider doing the following tasks:
Keep Your Lawn Mowed
Chiggers prefer to stay around long, grassy and damp areas. Thus, it’s essential to keep your grasses short to prevent them from infesting your vicinity.
If there’s a flower that chiggers hate, it’s the marigold! Marigold has a strong scent that deters these mites from coming toward your property.
Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth to Your Home or Yard
In sprinkling Diatomaceous earth, make sure to use the food-grade DE to ensure your safety. Sprinkle this into your lawn to prevent chiggers from infesting your place.
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You can also dust a small amount of food-grade DE on the bottom of your pants, shirt sleeves, and your socks around your ankles.
The ideal measurement for this method is 5 pounds per 1000 square feet. Chiggers dislike this as this causes them to dry out and die.
How to Recognize if You Have Chiggers?
You’ll know that you have chiggers if you feel itchy after going outside your house and notice red, blister-like lumps on your skin. A chigger’s bite still has an intense itch feeling on the affected area even after few days from the mite’s prick.
How to Naturally Get Rid of Chiggers in the Yard?
You can get rid of chiggers in your yard naturally using Epsom salt, dish soap, and vinegar. To do the mixture, follow the steps below:
Step 1: Mix the Epsom salt, dish soap, and vinegar in a small container.
Step 2: Pour the mixture into a bottle of spray.
Step 3: Go outside and spray the solution to your yard.
You can also opt for witch hazel extracts combined with essential oils made from the following:
- Tea tree
To make the solution using witch hazel extracts and your chosen essential oil, you should do the following:
Step 1: Mix two tablespoons of witch hazel extracts and five drops of essential oil in the four tablespoons of water.
Step 2: Put the mixture on the spray bottle and splash it on the areas with suspected mites.
Will Vinegar Eliminate Chiggers in the Yard?
Vinegar can eliminate chiggers in the yard due to its acidic nature. To do this, follow the steps below:
Step 1: Pour a cup of apple cider vinegar into six cups of water in a large container.
Step 2: Mix the solution thoroughly and splash it on the infested sites.
Chiggers can be a real nuisance, particularly if you are fond of going outdoors. However, there are natural means of eliminating these parasitic larval-stage mites, like making homemade spray and repellents.
You can make a vinegar-based solution or mix it with Epson salt and dish soap for the best result. It’s also best to keep your lawn mowed regularly as chiggers prefer to roam around and live in tall grasses.
List of Resources
Bunch, T., et al. (2013). Diatomaceous Earth: General Fact Sheet. Oregon State University.
Chiggers. NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Impetigo: All You Need to Know. (2021). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.