We have covered several pest control tips on this website. Today we’ll see some of the most effective home remedies to get rid of chiggers in your house, yard and bed. But before we begin, let us quickly go through what chiggers are and from where do they come from.
What are Chiggers?
Chiggers are small, red bugs. They are known by various names. Examples of these are red bugs, scrub-itch mites, harvest mites and berry bugs. Scientifically, they belong to a family of little bugs known as Trombiculidae.
These little bugs can cause you a wealth of discomfort. Despite being 1/50 inch in size, they can cause you to itch like you never have in your entire life. The little bugs are so small that you would need a magnifying lens to see them. They are actually a stage in the life of a bug.
Chiggers are the larvae of a type of mite that lives outdoors in the grasslands and bushes. These bugs are arachnids. This means that they are cousins to the feared spiders. They have six little legs that they use to jump from the undergrowth onto your clothes and your skin.
The little bugs jump on your shoes and crawl all the way up to your legs. After getting to your flesh, they insert their thin mouth-parts into your flesh. They often do this at the hair follicles. After this, they inject their saliva into you.
This fluid contains enzymes that break down human flesh. Once they inject the saliva, our bodies harden up the cells around the mouth-parts so as to protect the body. This forms a convenient straw-like structure for the chiggers known as a stylostrome. After this, the little bugs suck the mixture of your flesh and their saliva up the stylostrome. In short, they are drinking your flesh one drop at a time!
Chigger Bites and Symptoms
The bites that are done by chiggers are so uncomfortable because they are a combination of damage to the skin, disruption of the skin by the chigger’s enzymes as well as your body’s immune system fighting the invasion.
This invasion causes your skin to react violently to the chiggers. Bright red bumps appear on the skin where the little bugs have been at work. These bumps are ferociously itchy and can cause you to scratch your skin raw.
Some people develop a rash around the area where the chiggers have been burrowing. These itchy bumps can appear 24 or even 48 hours after the little bugs decided to make a smoothie of you. They prefer spots where your clothing sticks really tight against your skin.
Examples of such areas are the elastic edges of socks and underwear. Thus, if you go for a stroll in the plains and later discover that you are scratching at the tops of your socks like a madman, the chiggers are to blame.
You can have a few chiggers jump on you at a time. Also, you can have a complete chigger infestation. A small group of chiggers are enough to itch you so much that you can’t sleep. Imagine what a whole colony would do to you. Thus, when you go out into the plains for picnics and general fun, please avoid lying on the grass. You should also wear protective clothing if you are going to walk around in the tall grass. The chiggers are waiting.
Where do they live?
Most of us who are familiar with the great outdoors are very aware of chiggers. They like to live in grassy areas that have bush and trees. They adore living in damp places for example grassy river banks or swamps. Some favorite locations for these bugs is the edges of forested areas.
In these areas, the chiggers live close to the ground. This is because there is shade and the atmosphere is more moist. These bugs are most active from the beginning of spring to the beginning of autumn. In the United States, these berry bugs are abundant in the Southeast, South and Midwest parts of the nation.
Many people love to go camping. To avoid getting chiggers, do not cap in areas that have warm temperatures and are moist. Moreover, avoid areas where there are many big mammals wandering around. Examples of these mammals are cattle, horses and wild animals. As such, do not go camping in pasture land or animal reserves. These are areas where chiggers are common.
Female chiggers lay eggs in clusters. After they hatch, the little chiggers stay close together and don’t disperse. They often hatch in thousands. As soon as a host comes along, they hitch a ride and begin feeding.
The host can be a lizard, a rat, mouse or a human. The chiggers are attracted to carbon dioxide. As such, they can feel the breath of the host and they scurry towards it in earnest. The chiggers are very agile. They can easily move from your foot to your waist in 15 minutes flat.
Chiggers caused a world of trouble for U.S. army soldiers in World War 2. while waging war in Europe, the soldiers were repeatedly bitten by chiggers. They brushed off the pest as a necessary inconvenience until they contracted scrub typhus from them. This was a disease that caused the soldiers to develop headaches, swollen lymph glands and soaring fever. This was because the chiggers that bit them were of a disease-carrying species.
As a matter of fact, chiggers began to feed on humans by accident. This is because the little bugs evolved to feed on birds and reptiles. Lee Goff is the curator of the U.S. National Chigger Collection. This institution is located in Manoa, Hawaii. He indicates that this is the case. He also adds that chiggers in South East Asia can carry disease because they evolved to feed on mammals and unlike the species in the West, their bites don’t itch.
Interestingly, these bugs will die when the atmospheric temperatures fall below 60 degrees Celsius(42 degrees Fahrenheit). Read on to learn how to get rid of these bugs.
Home Remedies to Eradicate Chiggers
There are many proposed solutions. We’ll look at some of the best ways to stay clear and avoid chiggers.
The easiest of these is simply to prevent yourself from getting infested. You can do this by staying away from areas that have long grass and bushes. You should always mow your yards so as to ensure the chiggers do not make it their home. These little bugs cannot stand direct sunlight. As such, a mowed lawn is not hospitable for them.
2. Stop the Host
You can also ensure that the hosts which chiggers love do not come into your yard. Examples of these hosts are lizards and frogs. To get rid of these chiggers, you must ensure that the hosts do not bring them into your yard. You can remove any stagnant sources of water for these hosts.
You must also cut down bushes and prune the trees in your yard. These features provide an ideal hiding place for these hosts and for the chiggers as well. These hosts often visit yards in search of food. Thus, you must ensure that your trashcan lids are securely fastened.
This prevents them from accessing food remains and they will eventually avoid your yard. This helps to reduce the number of chiggers that are coming in from the outside.
If you notice that an area of your yard is infested with this bug, there is a solution for this. You can go and get diatomaceous earth and sprinkle it generously on the infested area.
This is a naturally formed, completely organic type of pesticide. It is designed for broadcast application. It will effectively repel chiggers and cause them to disperse and leave your yard.
This material is formed from the sedimentary rocks in the earth. It is soft and white in color. It is formed by tiny fossilized organisms known as diatoms. This earth should be distributed in areas where chiggers can be found. Examples of such areas are tall grass, bushes, briars as well as weeds.
4. Brush it off
If you are sitting in the park or any other outdoor area where you could be exposed to chiggers, you can keep them at bay by brushing any parts of your skin that could be exposed every 30 minutes. Chiggers are known for latching on to skin.
However, they do not do this immediately. You can brush them off before they get a chance to bit you and latch on to your skin. You can keep brushing your clothes as well.
5. Avoid Grass
The easiest way to avoid chiggers is simply not to lie on the grass. Even if grass has been cut, it could have some chiggers in it. This is especially so if there is tall grass nearby. If you lie on it, these chiggers can get on your clothes and your body and bite you.
6. Take Hot Shower
When you get back into your house after being outdoors, take off your clothes immediately and put them in a plastic bag. After that, you should take a shower with hot water. Ensure that you lather and rinse multiple times. Make sure to scrub your skin vigorously.
This will get rid of any chiggers that may have attached themselves to your skin. Moreover, you must take a hot shower. A cold or lukewarm shower will not help.
7. Wash Your Clothes
Wash any clothes that you wore in the outdoors with hot water. Use a detergent to scrub off these troublesome bugs. The water must be above 52 degrees celsius (125 degrees Fahrenheit).
Moreover, they must complete a cycle that lasts for at least half an hour. This ensures that any chiggers are eliminated completely. After that, you can dry the clothes in a machine or in sunlight. Make sure to use hot water since cool water cannot get rid of chigger infested clothes.
8. Use Sulphur Powder
Another effective home remedy is by using stinky material. The traditional Karankawa tribe knew of this. They lived in the Gulf Coast and smeared alligator grease on themselves to keep chiggers away.
Today, you can use sulphur powder to accomplish the same thing. If you are going into the wilderness, simply shake your socks in a plastic bag that contains a tablespoon of sulphur powder. This will keep the chiggers at bay.
9. Use of Repellents
There are also some chemical-based products that you can use to get rid of the chiggers. One of these is diethyltoluamide (DEET). This is a spray that you can get over the counter. It will actively protect you form the chiggers.
This spray is very effective for repelling chiggers. It is effective for up to 3 hours. You can apply it on your arms, legs and hands. Ensure that you avoid spraying it into your eyes, nose or mouth.
Moreover, only spray it on skin that is exposed. If you spray it on skin that will be covered with clothing, it can cause irritation. Read the label carefully when using DEET. Ensure very minimal contact between this repellent and your clothes. Should you by any chance react in an allergic manner to this spray, seek medical assistance immediately.
10. Use Permethrin
There is a spray that is designed for use on clothing to repel chiggers. It is known as permethrin. It is ideal for spraying on your socks, shoes, pants and other clothes when you outdoors. When you are applying this spray, make sure to cover the inner and outer surfaces of your clothes. Moreover, it is important to ensure that the repellent dries before you put on the clothes.
11. Yard Spray
There is a spray that is applied on the yard so as to get rid of chiggers. This spray can contain any one of various chemicals. These include esfenvalerate, cyhalothrin, chlorpyrifos, diazinon bifenthrin and carbaryl. These chemicals are very effective in getting rid of chigers. They will kill them on contact.
As you spray your yard, ensure that you spray the chemical on the parts that are most likely to have chiggers. These include the parts that have tall grass. This offers a quicker solution. You can identify these spots by testing for chiggers. You can place small pieces of black cardboard on various areas in your yard.
If you see some pink or yellow chiggers on the cardboard after a few minutes, then these areas are infested with chiggers. You should begin with these. Ensure that you test from 10 to 12 spots in your yard.
This is especially those areas that are moist and are shaded. Those that have dead briars, leaves and weeds are most likely to have chiggers. For safety, make sure that you read the instructions.
I really hope these tips come in handy. If you know any other useful tips or home remedies to prevent chigger infestation in your home, yard or bed, please feel free to comment below.