Table of Contents
- What are chiggers?
- Chigger facts
- Why are chiggers a problem?
- Chigger bites
- Are chiggers contagious?
- Chigger control
What are chiggers?
Chiggers are the infantile, or larvae of those mites that belong to the family Trombiculidae. These mites are also known as red bugs, berry bugs, scrub-itch mites, or harvest mites. The mites are the member of class arachnid, whose member can be found all around the world and members of this class also include spiders and ticks.
Chiggers are very minute in size that a person can not see them with bare eyes. They are even smaller than the size of a full stop, or their size is 50th part of one inch. Alone chigger cannot be identified readily, however, if they are present in a group then they can be observed easily. The color of their body is red, and infantile chigger possesses six legs that are uncommon for their class. Once these chiggers turn into adult mites, they become yellow in color, vegetarians and contain eight legs.
Chiggers usually prefer those habitats having the moist or humid environment like grass, gardens, forests, or areas close to rivers or other water bodies. The chiggers are notorious for biting humans, and such chiggers can be found on plants near to ground level as they need sufficient moisture to survive. The diet of chiggers consists of damaged tissues and cellular material of their host that can be humans as well. They get attached to their host by sticking their mouthparts inside the skin of the host. After attaching their mouthparts, they insert some saliva that ruptures tissue structure and results in severe itching. This ruptured tissue then becomes a source of their diet.
Chiggers are unique insects, whose younger ones are more dangerous and troublesome than their adults. Here are few facts about chiggers:
- Contrary to common myth, chiggers do not go inside the skin, and they also don’t suck the blood. Rather they just attach themselves to their host body and inject enzymes inside the host body. These enzymes damage tissues and then Chiggers suck tissue fluid from damaged tissue.
- The female mite of family Trombiculid either reproduces single egg.
- After finishing its food, chigger molts and converts into nymph that possesses eight legs. If the nymph becomes successful in finding another food source, then it successfully transforms into adult mite.
- Chiggers after turning into nymph and adult do not rely on their host for their food. They rather consume small insects and eggs to fulfill their needs.
- The lifespan of mites ranges from 2 to 12 months.
- Chiggers usually don’t prefer to travel far from the area where they were hatched. It is the reason that people see chigger patches instead of scattered chiggers.
- Those chiggers that get attached to humans for their food is usually found in brushy areas, low-lying grasses, and humid areas.
Why are chiggers a problem?
Chiggers are juvenile of mites, and they are too small to be seen by naked eye. However, still, it can create numerous problems if encountered by a person.
- Chiggers on body
If chiggers get attached to the human body, they can create havoc for them. As chiggers bite people to get their food, therefore, the bite can create severe itching and miserable situation for a person. Their bites can produce deadly itching, swelling, and wounds that stay on victim’s body for weeks. Unfortunately, whether the individual has gotten a single or many chiggers’ bites, the wounds will continue to make life problematic for the period of up to three weeks. Additionally, if the person mistakenly touches the itching part, then it can even result in dangerous bacterial infection and can make the situation even worse.
- Chiggers in the yard
Sometimes chiggers get entered into a yard and start living there. It will ultimately affect every other person entering into the yard. They stay at the levels near to the ground and usually attach to the legs of the person passing through the yard. Furthermore, they can also create problems for your pets and kids.
Chigger bites are immensely annoying and irritating. Therefore, to avoid such happenings and their unpleasant consequences, you should have adequate know-how about symptoms, treatment, and prevention of chigger bites. Here, all of these points have been discussed.
1. Symptoms of chigger bites
The chigger bite differs from other mites or insects bites in a way that person does not feel it immediately or right after it gets attached to the person’s body. The reason is their bites are not noticeable. However, after few hours of their bites, like one to three hours, the person starts feeling few symptoms. It is the time when chiggers have already started injecting their enzymes inside a person body. Here are few symptoms of chiggers biting:
- The most noticeable and first sign of chigger biting is severe itching that makes victim highly uncomfortable.
- The point where chigger bite becomes swollen, red or may get a pimple like looks. The bitten area sometimes appears like a small blister. As the chiggers are usually found in clusters, therefore, they might create rashes at the area of the wound.
- The itching of chigger bites is severe, and they may continue to increase with the passing time. Usually, it becomes more intense within a period of one to two days after chigger bite. The reason behind this intense itching is the existence of stylostome.
- If more than one chigger bites a person, then the skin condition may appear to the condition of eczema or allergic contact dermatitis victims. The difference between these problems can be identified through the record of outdoor activities that indicates towards chiggers that are causing skin problems.
All these symptoms may usually occur around waist, ankles, and skin folds. Among all these symptoms, itching may last for few days. However, swelling and wound may disappear after one to two weeks.
2. Treating chigger bites
There are certain myths about chiggers that they get inside the victim skin and stay there. However, in reality, it is not the case. Therefore, treatments like using alcohols bleach and other strong liquids to kill chiggers residing inside the skin are also wrong. Chigger bites can be a cause of uneasiness for the victim, and it is imperative to treat it as early as possible to give relief to a victim. Few treatments of chigger bites include:
- The most important thing to treat bites is not to touch the wound area no matter how hard the situation become. Doing so will only worsen the situation and may cause bacterial infections.
- Taking the cool shower or putting cold compresses can ease the victim.
- Taking brisk bath with the products containing colloidal oatmeal will reduce the chances of infections
- After washing and cleaning the wounds properly, the victim can also take over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to relief the itching and irritations.
3. Prevent chigger bites
In the case of having doubt about chiggers’ presence in an outdoor area, you should take preventive measures immediately to remove any chance of getting chiggers bites. Here we will discuss few points to prevent their bites:
- After any outdoor activity or coming home after spending time in gardens or yards, the person should wash the whole body properly with soap and water. It will remove all chiggers present in the body and will prevent chiggers bite.
- Clothes that were worn during outdoor activity should be washed with hot water will also kill any attached chigger and will prevent their bites.
- Chiggers’ bites can also be prevented by keeping in view the temperature of an outdoor area. The reason behind is chiggers only exist in those areas having the temperature range between 15.5 C to 37.2 C. any area colder or hotter than this range will not accommodate chigger and their bites can be prevented as well.
- Chigger is easy to prevent all you need to do is to wear proper clothes. Wearing full sleeves shirt and full-length trousers along with socks and high boots can help a person in preventing chiggers bite. Additionally, the end of trouser or pants should be inserted inside socks or shoes. In this way, chiggers will not get any point to attach with the host.
- All other openings of the clothes should also be sealed to prevent chiggers bite.
- One should avoid walking in tall grass, as they are the rich source of chiggers.
- Besides taking all above mentioned precautionary measures, a person should also apply mosquito repellers on their bodies and clothes. It will protect a person not only from mosquitoes but also from chiggers.
Are chiggers contagious?
Besides discussing all other facts, symptoms, and treatments of chiggers bite. Another important question that can worry a victim is if they are contagious? Luckily, the answer to this question is no. Chiggers do not spread inside the person’s body or from one person to another. They just get attached to the person body at one point and continue consuming the damaged tissue it destroyed in the start. Besides chiggers, symptoms and after effects of chigger bites are not contagious as well. However, it is also a fact that they may appear contagious because of scattering of irritation and itching as they continue to feed on tissue fluids. Keeping in mind all these facts, a person suffering from chiggers bite can keep their routine meetings and work. None of their symptoms or effects is transmittable to other person or pets.
There are different kinds of stuff on which chiggers might get attached and can create the problem for you. Therefore, it should be your first step to take all necessary steps and measures to control chiggers from your area. Here we will discuss few tips and tricks to control chiggers from your body, clothes, yard, pet, house and bed.
1. How to get rid of chiggers on your body
There are high chances of getting bites from chiggers if you are exposed to an area having chiggers. Therefore, the best way to get rid of these insects from your body is to brush them away. It is advisable to brush exposed part of your body briskly after every half an hour. In this way, they will be kicked out of your body before even starting biting your body. Similarly, they can be removed from your clothes or other belongings through regular brushing. However, in a case of suspecting already the presence of chiggers in your body, wash the affected part as early as possible and follow the steps mentioned below:
- Use bearable hot water and soap with good leather to remove chiggers from your body. Don’t just stop after washing it once; repeat the process as much as you can to ensure their removal.
- Don’t delay the process of removing chiggers from your body if you are assured of their presence. The reason is, chiggers do not take much longer to start contaminating body after getting attached. Therefore, timely preventive action can help to prevent a big loss.
- If chigger shave already started latching your body, then their wounds can be treated through various methods.
2. How to get rid of chiggers in your yard
It is vital to identify the exact location of chiggers while eliminating them from your yard. Chiggers have habits of existing in clusters form rather than in scattered form. Therefore, if you become successful in identifying one spot of these insects, you will get a whole group there. To determine the area of chiggers’ population, following steps should be taken:
- Put a tick paper or white cardboards on the area where chiggers can be present
- After few moments, examine the cardboard, chiggers will be getting assembled on the top of the cardboard
- By using some magnifying glass, try to search orange or red tiny dots. These dots are chiggers.
- With the help of some indicator, put marks on the area of chiggers’ population.
After identifying densely populated chigger areas, use following methods to get rid of them from your yard:
- Use some chemicals or diatomaceous earth in your yard to eliminate chiggers.
- Mowing lawn regularly to trim the grass regularly as taller the grass, more will be the chances of chigger population
- Remove chiggers’ hosts from your yard. It will lack their food from your locality, and they could not survive in your area.
3. How to get rid of chiggers on dogs and cats
As pets like cat and dogs spend a significant part of their time while staying outside and performing outdoor activities, therefore, they are more exposed to chigger bites as compared to humans. The standard parts where these animals get bugs attack are head, abdomen, and legs. This biting may result in severe itching and swelling that after itching the affected part can end up with a bacterial infection. Therefore, chiggers should be eliminated out of their body immediately. Follow these steps in this regard:
- Notice your pets carefully. If they scratch vigorously, it means they have caught by bugs. After realizing the presence of chiggers, clean your pet correctly or better to give them the proper bath. This cleaning will eliminate further chiggers attached on their bodies.
- Calamine lotion should be applied on affected areas to ease the irritation. Antihistamines can also help in this regard. The purpose of these ointments is to ease the pain.
- In the case of increasing uneasiness or itching, the help of a vet can be asked to give some injections to animals. Injected steroids will prevent pets from damaging their skins.
4. How to get rid of chiggers in the house and bed
Typically chiggers do not reside in the homes or bedrooms, and if they do, they cannot reproduce of increase their population. The only source of bringing these insects inside the home is the people or pets who visit infested areas, and when they get back home, they bring with them these tiny beasts. However, if chiggers get to enter your home, they should be eliminated at its earliest. The first step should be taken to identify possible locations where bugs can be found. Following steps can be taken to eliminate them:
- To remove chiggers from beds, remove all bed and pillow covers and wash them with hot water and soap. Additionally, bleach and other chemicals can also be applied to remove chiggers. After washing, dry the clothes in the proper sunlight or high temperature.
- To eliminate chiggers from carpets, mattress, rugs and furniture, utilize steam cleaner with the brush. It will help in getting rid of bugs through its high temperature.
- Other parts of home can be washed with hot water or can be cleaned with the steam cleaner. After cleaning all parts, let the house dry for almost half an hour.
Chiggers are very irritating and deadly insects. They can easily spoil at least two to three weeks of a person upon successful attacking to a person’s body and making it a source of their food. Therefore, it is necessary to get rid of this disastrous creature to stay protected from annoyance and infections.