Last Updated on May 17, 2022 by Grow with Bovees
Have you noticed those creepy-crawlies in your yard in the summer? They’re called chiggers!
Many people believe that these pests are pesky insects like mosquitoes, but they’re actually arachnids like spiders and ticks.
Now you’re probably wondering where chiggers come from, and where do chiggers live, if they’re harmful to humans, how to heal a chigger bite, and how to prevent chigger bites.
Chiggers are barely visible, so much so that you’ll probably need a magnifying glass to spot them, yet their bites can leave with a powerful urge to scratch.
Chiggers are active when the ground temperature is between 77 and 86 degrees F, and thrive in moist, grassy areas of your lawn, and in fields and forests.
What is a Chigger?
Also known as trombiculid mites, chigger mites, harvest mites, harvest bugs, harvest lice, mower’s mites, or red bugs, chiggers are hard-to-see parasite pests that cause tiny hives.
Often times, you can only see them with a magnifying glass, especially in their larval stage.
These mites lurking in your backyard and lawn or wooded areas do not transmit infectious diseases and are as small as 1/120 to 1/150 of an inch, so you can’t really see them with the naked eye. Chiggers are usually orange, yellow or light red, and have hairy bodies.
While chiggers don’t crave human blood, they do savor human skin cells (host tissue), and cause tiny red bumps when chiggers bite on their victim’s skin.
Chiggers latch themselves to the host’s skin or clothes for up to three days before dropping off to feed.
Where Do Chiggers Live?
Chiggers live and thrive in cooler climates, during late spring and early summer. However, a large concentration of chiggers larvae can be present all-year-round as they produce up to five generations.
Both male and female chiggers can be seen in pastures, roadside ditches, and a damp yard. They are usually encountered near the top blades of lawn grass, and weeds, and can’t survive indoors be it late summer or winter, so there’s slim chances indoors chiggers will make it to your couch or bed.
Once the bodies including the eight legs of chiggers attach to their hosts, they travel to areas of the body where clothing fits tightly over the skin such as around the waistline, beltline, and under the socks.
They then depart the clothing through openings and cling on to an outdoor person or prey in your yard.
Can Chiggers Live In The House?
In the event of exposure to chigger habitats or chigger territory outdoors, these pests can cling onto your skin and clothing without you even seeing or knowing it, because reactions to chigger bites aren’t felt for a few hours.
So, there are great chances that you can accidentally bring pets with chiggers or species of chiggers into your home.
However, the good news is that even if chiggers stroll into your house, they won’t be able to survive in your home and here’s why!
One of the biggest reasons chiggers can’t live in any area of your house be it your couch or bed is that they need certain conditions to complete their lifecycle including the nymph stage, which is shady, grassy and moist habitats.
If you find something biting you in your sleep, then it’s probably bed bugs, which, unlike chiggers, feel very much welcomed in the bedroom.
How Do Chiggers get Inside The House?
If you spot signs of chiggers of find chiggers in your home, then their mode of transport indoors is you or your pets.
Even though they won’t survive for very long indoors, it’s better to prevent these pests from getting indoors to begin with, and there are a few ways to do this.
First is to avoid walking through shady, damp environments or areas that contain tall grass.
When you’re out in your lawn or garden, it’s recommended that you wear loose-fitting clothes, and do not roll up your shirt sleeves.
Adding to this, it’s a good idea to wear insect repellant, which serves as a preventive measure to keep you safe from other hidden insects as well such as ticks, mosquitoes, gnats, and more.
How Long Do Chiggers Live on Clothing?
Chiggers can live on your clothing for a short period of time (3 days) before dropping off to feed. It’s always a good practice to remove clothing and take a warm water shower and wear fresh clothes when you come back in from your lawn or garden.
Chiggers are barely visible, therefore may be tough to spot on your clothes, especially if you’re wearing dark-colored clothing, but remove any chiggers to prevent any from getting on your hair follicles and skin pores.
Can Chiggers Live In Our Hair?
Just like clothing, chiggers can live in your hair too, and can gradually get in your skin. They don’t however lay eggs on your skin or hair, and will only stay in your hair for a short amount of time.
Can Chiggers Live On Dogs?
Dogs have a thick coat of fur, which serves as a protective layer from chigger bites. Chiggers can attach to your dog’s head, soft external animal tissue, particularly the skin around the dog’s ear and eyes.
If chiggers do get on your dog, bathe your dog in a warm water bath containing a small amount of Epsom salt to remove the chiggers and provide some relief from itching.
Life Cycle Of Chiggers
The entire life cycle of chiggers is divided into four stages namely egg, larvae stage, nymph and adult.
After the eggs hatch in the spring, the six-legged larvae move fast to climb onto low-growing vegetation, short and tall grass.
Chigger larvae then wait for their preferred hosts to come along – humans, birds, cats, dogs, and reptiles, small mammals, after which the larvae attach themselves to the skin, skin pore, hair follicle of the prospective host, or clothing such as shirts including long-sleeved shirts, and inject their saliva into it, similar to mosquito bites.
When chiggers feed, they cause rash and intense itching that starts after they’ve attached to your skin. and dry clothes. If left unattended, chiggers can enjoy human cells for up to four days.
In their later stages, the nymphs molt and turn into adult chiggers, and at this stage chiggers do not prey on their hosts any longer. The total chigger life cycle is roughly two months, where an adult chigger mite can live up to up year, and in that time can produce multiple chigger generations.
Before getting rid of all the chiggers in your yard to prevent bites, you should determine whether your lawn is indeed plagued with chiggers or some other pests.
You can identify whether you have a chigger issue by looking at the bites. Chigger bites typically appear in bright pink clusters or if you want to be sure, place a bowl of water outside and wait for an hour.
If you notice any tiny, yellow, or red dots around the rim of the dish, you’ve probably got a chigger issue.
How to Prevent Chigger Bites and Treat Skin Irritation?
Unlike certain other pests, chiggers don’t carry or transmit diseases. If you do get bit by chiggers, the bites can be treated in your home.
- Get a bowl of soap and fairly hot water, soak a scrubber into the mixture, and scrub to remove any chiggers that are attached to your skin. You can also take a hot shower with soap.
- Next, get a cool washcloth, and rub it over the bites for a soothing experience.
- To help with the itching from a chigger’s bite, you can use Calamine lotion or anti-itching creams.
- Do not scratch the bites, because it can make things way worse, and lead to bacterial infection of the skin, and increased redness, swelling, and pain.
- Call your doctor if the over-the-counter medication doesn’t kelp with the itching and if the bites look infected.
If you have chiggers or other bugs living in your lawn and garden, there’s no need to break a sweat just yet, because they do not carry or transmit disease, a chigger will bite cause itching and a red bump or two in skin folds. They live in moist, damp areas, and even your clothing, but only up to 3 days.
If you do get bitten by chiggers, treat the area with soap and water, and then apply an anti-itching cream to soothe the area.