Table of Contents
- 1 WHAT ARE CHIGGERS?
- 2 WHERE DO CHIGGERS LIVE?
- 3 HOW DO I GET RID OF CHIGGERS?
- 4 HOW TO TREAT CHIGGER BITES
- 5 DOES NAIL POLISH HELP WITH CHIGGER BITES?
- 6 SOURCES
- 7 Author Bio
The North American species of chigger (Trombicula alfreddugesi) is a tiny arachnid that lives in damp, grassy environments. In its larval stage, it feeds on the skin of warm-blooded hosts.
If you’ve ever come home from a hike in the woods only to find dozens of itchy red bumps on your ankles, there’s a good chance chiggers have made a meal out of you.
Chiggers can stay attached to a host for 2–3 days, so it’s important that you learn how to get rid of chiggers after being bitten. Learn how to identify these pests, how to get rid of chiggers, and the best way to treat chigger bites.
WHAT ARE CHIGGERS?
Chiggers are Trombiculidae mites and members of the arachnid family (though they only have six legs during the larval phase of life). They have round, red/orange bodies. Unlike ticks which feed on blood, chigger larvae feed on the skin itself. They bite a host, mix their saliva with the host’s skin cells, and eat the resulting mush.
Unfortunately, chigger larvae are hard to detect with the naked eye, so the best way to avoid them is by being aware of their habitat (tall grasses, fields, and forests).
Adult chiggers are also known as berry bugs in the United States because of their bright red coloring once they reach adulthood. Adult Trombiculidae mites can reach up to 2 mm in length and are much easier to spot.
After feeding on a host, chigger larvae drop back to the forest floor to molt and continue their life cycle as nymphs before maturing into adult Trombiculidae mites.
Because of the similarity in name, chiggers are sometimes confused for jiggers, which are a type of sand flea.
WHERE DO CHIGGERS LIVE?
In North America, you’ll most often encounter chiggers in the southeastern states and the midwest, where humidity is high. They breed in grassy areas, forest floors, and other dense vegetation.
In Europe, the Neotrombicula autumnalis species of chigger is prevalent and often referred to as harvest mites.
In Asia and other tropical regions, chiggers from the genera Leptotrombidium and Eutrombicula are the most common. These chiggers often carry disease, like the Orienta bacteria, which can lead to scrub typhus (which gives these pests the nickname scrub-itch mites).
HOW DO I GET RID OF CHIGGERS?
Most people aren’t aware that they’ve run into chiggers until they begin to feel the intense itching and pain of chigger bites. As soon as you notice these red, raised, pimple-like bumps, it’s important to act.
HOW TO REDUCE CHIGGERS IN YOUR YARD
If you live in an area where chiggers are a big issue, you may be wondering how to get rid of chiggers in your own yard as well. As long as you keep landscaping well-maintained and have regular pest control visits, you should be able to avoid chiggers and enjoy your yard to the fullest.
Mow your grass regularly, trim shrubs, pull weeds, and replace weed barriers when needed. If you have areas of your yard that retain water, you may also want to consider creating a runoff or finding a drainage solution.
USE YEAR-ROUND, SEASONAL PEST CONTROL
The best way to get rid of chiggers outside your home is to use a pest control service. Our field experts are equipped with pet- and family-friendly treatments specific to your area for year-round coverage you can count on.
HOW TO AVOID CHIGGERS OUTSIDE
While spending time outside—whether you’re hiking, camping, or just traipsing through a nearby field—be sure to wear long pants, long socks, and close-toed shoes in order to avoid chiggers. You can also apply insect repellent with DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) to help ward off chigger bites. These measures can help protect you from ticks and mosquitoes as well.
HOW TO TREAT CHIGGER BITES
Chigger bites are miserable since they itch like crazy and can keep you up all night. If you’ve been bitten by a chigger, try these methods for some relief:
- Thoroughly clean your skin as soon as you notice itching. Use soap and hot water to make sure the chiggers detach from your skin.
- Apply hydrocortisone to each bite individually (avoid using hydrocortisone for more than a few days in a row without consulting your doctor).
- Take an over-the-counter antihistamine like loratadine, cetirizine, or diphenhydramine (be cautious as these may cause drowsiness).
- Apply a topical numbing ointment like lidocaine cream or spray at night to help dull the itching while you sleep.
- Use a cold compress to ease itching and swelling throughout the day.
Some people also find relief with warm oatmeal baths and coconut oil. Always consult your physician for specific medical advice.
WASH YOUR CLOTHES
If you were hiking outside when you noticed chigger bites, wash any clothes, socks, and shoes from your trip as soon as you get home. If you got home and changed without showering, wash those clothes as well. Remember—these bugs can stay attached to your skin for days before dropping to the ground.
CHANGE YOUR BEDDING
If you’ve been in your bed since getting bitten, there could be chiggers lurking in your sheets, so be sure to give them a wash as well.
You may also want to vacuum, sweep, and mop, just in case there are a few stragglers that have followed you inside and dropped off your skin.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
As with any insect bite, always consult your doctor if you have any concerns. If itching and pain from chigger bites persist longer than a week, or if your bites begin to look infected, reach out to your primary care provider or head to an urgent care right away. Your physician might prescribe a steroid to help with the itching and swelling or an antibiotic for an infection.
DOES NAIL POLISH HELP WITH CHIGGER BITES?
You may have heard the old wives’ tale to apply clear nail polish to your chigger bites, but the effects of this are mainly a placebo. The theory is that chiggers burrow into your skin and need to be suffocated by the nail polish, but in reality, they will typically drop off on their own or come off in the shower.
Our field experts are well-versed in pest identification, removal, and prevention, so if you’re facing chiggers or another outdoor critter that’s stopping you from enjoying your yard, contact us today for a free quote. Our pet- and family-friendly seasonal treatments will have you back enjoying the outdoors in no time!
Courtney Enzor has worked in the pest control industry for about a decade. From helping you build a fly trap to giving you the best tips for identifying various bugs, she loves answering all your pest-related questions and sharing her pest-related expertise through writing. At the end of the day, she hopes her content will help people avoid mishaps and keep families happy and healthy!