Walking through tall blades of grass or hiking, anyone can pick up chiggers. They look like red bugs and are actually spider larvae. These pests are super tiny and you won’t notice they are on your skin until they bite. Chiggers are found in wet areas, as well as wooded and grassy areas throughout the world, and especially in the southeast. They last for two to three days on the body and cause burning and itching, along with red bumps. How long do chiggers live on clothes? They will live on clothes for a few hours. However, it is the body where they do the most damage so the faster you find them the better.
What is a Chigger
As mentioned above, chiggers are a spider larvae and a red bug. Unfortunately, during their larva stage, they are known as venomous parasitic trombiculid mites and wreak havoc on the body. This pest is hard to see with the naked eye. Harvest mite nymphs and adults like plant and animal matter.
In tropical climates, these pests are active year-round and are seen the most in late summer into the early fall months. When it is time for the egg to hatch, they wait on the tall grass for an unsuspecting animal to come by and attach itself to the animal. From here, it jumps on to food and gains nutrients. These nutrients help it continue to grow until the status of a nymph.
Take a look at this video about chiggers
How Chiggers Feed
Unlike bed bugs that feed on your blood, chiggers like the fluids in your skin cells. The chigger larvae inject enzymes that will break down skin pores or hair follicle cells. As the chigger injects the enzymes, the tissue hards and creates a hole so the chigger can get the skin fluids out.
Chiggers can only get under the skin where there are folds or thin skin or wrinkles. In fact, in these areas such as the armpits, crotch, ankles, and groin areas, they can live for 3 days before they drop off. They like and need a warm body so they can make it to the next life cycle. Unlike mosquitos that like to land on open skin, chiggers do not.
Chiggers on Clothing
Chiggers are likely to jump on to your clothing if you go camping or hiking. However, it is difficult for them to attach themselves to your skin so the next obvious place is clothes. The clothes that chiggers like to live on best is made from loosely woven material. There may be thousands of them but possibly only one that stays on long enough on the clothing for a few hours to bite. The desire of the chigger is to get to the nymph stage in their life cycle so it needs chigger larvae to feed on a host. Thus, when the chigger bites the skin, the red bumps and itchy skin appear. Many of the chigger bites will be near the waist as the clothing is a barrier on the skin.
How to Prevent Chiggers
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants – stay away from moist areas and tall grass and plants
- Use insect repellent – 10-30% DEET insect repellent will help deter the chiggers.
- Hot shower or bath – take a shower or bath with hot water after you get home. Using soap and lathering will help get any remaining chiggers off.
- Wash your clothes – chiggers like to live on clothes and this will kill any remaining on your body and prevent chigger bites. It will also prevent any from attaching themselves to your skin and they won’t be able to spread around the house.
If you are bitten by a chigger
If you find yourself bitten by a chigger, you can apply an anti-septic cream or a calamine lotion. This will help the bitten area feel better.
If you find that you have a chigger infestation, you can do the following or call a professional.
- Mow your lawn – well-manicured lawns do not excite chiggers as they like tall grass.
- Food and water sources need to be removed – this helps feed the chigger and you want to also reduce the amount of watering in the yard.
- Vegetation should be trimmed – cut back the trees and shrubs to reduce the natural habitat
- Treating the lawn – if you need to treat the lawn, call a professional pest control company that can tell you what to use that is eco-friendly and will keep you and your pets safe.
Now that you know about chiggers, taking a look at other places in the home is important.
When you are getting rid of water sources, you are also taking away places that the mosquitos may try to live. You want to do that as when they bite, it is itchy and can become infected. Also getting rid of the standing water will keep the mosquitos from laying their eggs.
Another area to think about is pest infestation. Unfortunately, this can happen in any yard but you can keep an eye out in case it does happen and take care of it quickly. You will know that you have an infestation if you see pest droppings, ant hills, plant damage, or nesting signs. Contacting a professional pest control company can help with this right away.
Lastly, keep an eye out for earwigs. People have always thought these like your ears, but that is not the case. In fact, it is that they are the shape of an ear when not folded. You can keep earwigs out of the home if you take care of a leak or condensation in the basement, leaves in the home, or dirt floor crawl spaces.
When to Call a Professional
Sometimes we don’t want to deal with getting rid of pests and need to contact a professional to do that for us. Also, if you find you or someone in your household has been bitten by a chigger(s) and it is not healing, reach out to a medical professional for assistance. You don’t want an irritation to linger for too long, in case it is something else.
Avoiding a problem with chiggers is often easy, with the proper precautions. Taking care of landscaping outside of the home can help keep the chiggers and other pests away. Also, making sure to check your clothing is a great idea as well.
If you have a chigger infestation and want to keep them away hire a pest control company. You can assist your pest control company by taking precautions when in the woods and when coming home. . Call Honor Services to assist you with some pest control recommendations while conducting a thorough pest inspection in Melbourne, FL, and surrounding areas.