Chiggers – we all know about them and have experience the discomfort of chigger bites. But did you know that the other name for these tiny, tiny pests is harvest mite. Chiggers are part of the arachnid family, along with spiders. Larvae of chiggers hatch in the grass and on leaves then transfer to the skin of anyone who comes in contact with them.

Then the problems start. The larvae get into the pores of the skin or attach to the hair follicles at the skin surface. When they inject their digestive juices into the skin it dissolves skin cells so that the resulting mass can be food for the larvae. After this stage the larvae grow into adult chiggers and start the process again by laying eggs.

Stop Those Chiggers

You can start reducing the number of chiggers on your property by keeping grass closely trimmed. Eliminate weeds altogether to give the larvae fewer places to hide. Keep leaves and decaying matter cleaned up as well. You can kill both adults and larvae by soaking foliage with soap and water. You should probably repeat this weekly for several weeks to make sure new larvae are killed. Remember, chiggers like moist, lush vegetation and thick grass. Keep your property clean and dry.

If you find that chiggers have become a problem indoors because of house plants, move the plants outside immediately. Washing them thoroughly with insecticide soap should take care of the matter. Don’t move the plants indoors without treating them!! Repeat the cleansing process once each week for four weeks.

Make sure you wash your clothing and yourself after working to eliminate chiggers. Give your pets a good bath as well to prevent them from adding to the problem. It won’t take too many adults or larvae left over to start an infestation again.

If you are going to be outdoors try to avoid coming into contact with tall grass, bushes and trees. If you must be outside wear clothing that will protect as much skin as possible. Be sure to wash the clothing thoroughly after returning home. Shower or bathe to eliminate larvae that may be on the skin.

Some people have had success using sulfur powder as a repellent. Use this on your clothing before heading for outdoor activities. There are commercial insect repellents available but the most effective should only be applied to clothing. Most are not meant to be applied directly on the skin. Citronella oil products may also help repel these microscopic pests.

Try green-tea extract, hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion for the itching that comes with chigger bites. Make sure you wash your clothing well then shower or bathe before applying more lotion or cream. With chiggers and many other tiny pests prevention is the best medicine. But if you are already irritated by these tiny pests there are things you can do to relieve the itching and get rid of chiggers.


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Lucas Beaumont
Generalist. Wikipedia contributor. Elementary school teacher from Saskatchewan, Canada.

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