Serious Chigger Facts: After the chigger has tumbled over
the 10th rock, it can no longer bite you? Also, finger nail
polish is an excellent cure for chigger bites?
True or False?
• Chiggers do not
burrow into the skin or suck blood. Rather, they suck tissue
fluids with their mouthparts. A chigger attaches to its host,
injects digestive .
enzymes into the bite wound, and then sucks up the
• After it has completed
its meal, the chigger drops off the host and molts into an
eight-legged nymph. If it is successful in finding food, the
nymph molts into an adult mite.
Both the nymphal and adult stages no longer depend on a
host but feed on small insects and various arthropod eggs. The
mite life cycle is typically 2 to 12 months. The female
Trombiculid mite lays eggs singly or in small clusters.
• Chiggers do not move far
from their hatching site. This is why people encounter “chigger
patches” rather than one or two chiggers at a time. The chiggers
that attach to humans are often encountered in two types of
habitats: second .
growth, brushy areas of shrubs and brambles and low lying, damp
areas of vegetation bordering marshes and swamps. These habitats
are areas where chiggers’ .
preferred hosts (rodents and lizards) often live.....
How can a critter so small
cause so much pain?!
. While it is true
that man has held moon dirt in his hand,
. sniffed the parched
plains of Venus, and will one day swim in the chilled seas of
Titan, it is also a little known fact that
. scientists don't have a
single clue how so minute a quantity of bug saliva or venom (as
in spiders) can produce such .
localized devastating changes in tissue. The grab bag phrase
is... Immune Reaction. It's like having the power to light a
volcano with a match. Wow!
or “red bugs,” are
not insects. They are the larval stage of mites that belong to
the family Trombiculidae. Mites belong to the Acari, the same
group of organisms as ticks. The typical mite passes through
four life stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. Chiggers have
six legs, are less than 150 inch long, and are a red-orange
color. They feed on reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, and
birds, which are their normal hosts. People are “accidental”
Chiggers that attach to humans usually die within 24 to
72 hours because the human immune reaction to a bite prevents
the chigger from obtaining adequate nourishment.
Why Are Chiggers a Problem?
Chigger bites can cause terrible itching and
weeping, red welts that can
continue long after the mites have died. The itching may last up
to 2 or 3 weeks and can be especially miserable if the person is
suffering from numerous bites. Scratching and
secondary bacterial infection can make it more difficult for
bites to heal. Be sure to keep the bite wound clean and dry, and
apply an antibacterial lotion if necessary.
Why Do Chigger Bites Itch So Much?
The itching is the result of the human immune system
responding to components in the chigger saliva that has been
injected into the skin. Some people may be overly sensitive to
chigger bites and experience fever. However, chiggers are not
known to transmit diseases to people in North America.
Chigger bites do not cause much discomfort in their normal
What Can I Do To Prevent Chigger Bites?
In Alabama, the “chigger season” typically starts in
mid- to late spring and lasts through late summer. The best
means of protection is to avoid chigger habitats during this
Unfortunately, this is not always practical. If you
will be in a chigger habitat, avoid brushing up against thickets
and tall grass. Wear closed shoes, socks, long pants, and a
Tuck your pant legs into your socks and your shirt into
your pants. Use insect repellents that contain diethyl toluamide
(DEET) around the tops of your socks, your waist, and your
ankles to help keep chiggers from getting under your clothes.
Chiggers tend to like areas where clothing is the most snug,
such as around the ankles, the backs of the knees, the groin,
the waistline, and the underarms. Repellents containing
permethrin (0.5%) are excellent chigger deterrents but should be
sprayed on clothing only. Never spray Permethrin directly on
skin. Always follow the directions on the label.
Repellents containing permethrin and DEET can be found
in camping or outdoor sections of most large stores. If you have
been in a chigger habitat, take a very warm bath or shower,
preferably within the first 1 or 2 hours of being exposed. If
chiggers have not yet attached, use a soapy wash cloth to help
remove them. Signs of discomfort from chigger bites usually
start within 6 to 12 hours.
What Can I Do To Relieve the Itching?
To reduce discomfort, apply an anti-itch cream that
contains hydrocortisone, benzyl benzoate, or calamine. Some
people may be sensitive to these medications, so if you have
questions, be sure to ask your health-care professional or
How Do I Control Chiggers?
. Controlling chiggers is
Chiggers are found in areas where their normal hosts
live. These areas can include or be near your lawn, picnic
areas, and other recreational areas.
Chigger populations can best be reduced through
vegetation management. Keep grass short. Sunlight that
penetrates the grass will make the lawn drier and make it less
favorable for chigger survival. If possible, keep rodents and
other small mammals that may serve as chigger hosts out of your
yard. One thing that may help is to remove brush and wood debris
where potential mite hosts may live. If chiggers are a serious
problem, you may want to put up a fence to keep animals away.
Also, keep trash can lids secured to discourage wildlife from
coming on your property.
Chemicals that contain permethrin, cyfluthrin, diazinon,
and carbaryl (Sevin) can be used to treat outdoor areas that you
use, such as the brush borders between the lawn and woods and
along fences and paths. Broadcasting insecticides over large
areas is discouraged. See Extension publication ANR-500B,
Alabama Pest Management Handbook—Volume 2, for current chemical
Note from GC Editor:
After being nearly consumed by chiggers recently, I
felt it my duty to search out an article for my fellow Calhoun
Countians. I found this information on our very own
Alabama/Auburn website, ACES.edu.
David West, our local Calhoun County Extension Service
Coordinator was kind enough to give me his blessings. Be sure to
use the great services of our Extension Service! Contact them at
237-1621 with questions about anything to do with the
yard, garden, and food preservation...and much more! They are
good folks to know! .