A 40x Magnification of an Image of Chiggers
The Chigger Bite
What Are Chiggers?
I want to preface this subject with the fact that some of the details may appear disgusting. So many of us experience chigger bites during the summer months and perhaps never question what they are since the effects are similar to that of a mosquito.
Once you learn what chiggers actually are, you may never walk through your lawn again. According to Merriam-Webster, chiggers are "a 6-legged mite larva (family Trombiculidae) that sucks the blood of vertebrates and causes intense irritation." The Trombiculidae are in the family of mites and mites are part of the Arachnid family which is the same group spiders belong to--still interested?
This year, I went from the experience of poison ivy, or oak, to chiggers after mowing the lawn and either experience is greater than annoying. Most of us are aware of poison ivy and its effects, but how many of us have known what chiggers are and what they do to our skin cell structure?
Chiggers go through four stages: (1) eggs; (2) larva; (3) nymph; and (4) adult. When the chiggers are in the larva stage, this is when they attach to your family pet or people. Because they look for areas on your person where clothes seem to cling to you, this is why you will notice them on your waist or on your ankles if you wore socks. They also go to hair lines, so some people experience them under the arms or on the neck at the base of where your hair growth ends. Once the skin has been bitten, the chigger releases an enzyme into your skin breaking it down into such a manner that it can be digested by the chigger. The chigger can remain attached until it drops off after feeding or when it's removed by a hand that begins itching the area. Remember, too, that chiggers are so small that you're unaware of it attaching to your skin until you begin to itch. Once you're aware you have these types of bites, make sure you don't wear the same clothing such as jeans when you discover you have these bites because the chiggers could still be in those jeans.
What Can You Do to Cut Down On Chiggers In Your Lawn?
First, chiggers do not prefer direct sunlight. Second, make sure you keep your lawn mowed on a routinely basis because this can help cut down on supporting a well infested area. The female chiggers like thick growth for egg laying purposes, so keep your lawn well weeded and avoid having a lot of leafy debris piled up in one area. If your lawn is infested with chiggers, you may want to check with your local hardware store for the safest pesticide to use if that is a route you deem necessary. The next time you mow, dress accordingly and consider using a natural insect repellent. You may never choose to sit on top of your lawn again after reading this. Whatever clothing you choose to where, select those items that are tightly woven which makes it more challenging for the chigger to penetrate.
How Do You Treat Chigger Bites?
Anti-itch creams such as hydrocortisone can be applied to the areas of chigger bites. People have also used clear nail polish to extinguish the itching, although I do not know I would recommend doing so for a child. Check with your local pharmacist for other recommendations. If you have a severe case of bites, contact your physician for medical advice.
If you know you were in a chigger infested area, wash immediately with very warm water and soap to remove any chiggers. Take the clothing you were wearing and wash in very warm to hot soapy water.
Useful Information Regarding Chiggers
- Chiggers: Bites, Treatment & How to Get Rid of Chiggers
Learn about chiggers and chigger bites. Chiggers do not burrow into the skin, they have feeding structures that insert into the skin. Find out how to protect yourself from getting chigger bites.
Jo Miller from Tennessee on December 04, 2016:
Hi, Cathy. I'm trying to get back into this site and renew some old acquaintances and see who is still around. As a result I came across this old article of yours. We have many chiggers here where I live. They bother my husband a lot but don't usually affect me. They only bother him when he is in a very weedy area, and he wards them off by wearing heavier clothing and spraying with insect repellent. I do nothing and don't get bitten.
Hope you are still around and still writing here.
Cathy (author) from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri on February 20, 2013:
prektjr, thanks so much for the read and your helpful comment! Have a good day.
Debbie Carey from Riverton, KS, USA on February 19, 2013:
Clear nail polish is a great way to get the chigger bites to quit itching! One way to keep them away is to rub your legs and arms and waist with a dryer sheet. It really does work! Also have had great results with the Skin-So-Soft from Avon! Chiggers are EVERYWHERE here! Sitting on the bleachers, in the grass, on the picnic table....everywhere! If you live in the midwest or south, then you KNOW what chiggers are! I have less chigger bites than others and I was told it was because of my love for garlic! Who knows? Voted up and interesting!
Mary Craig from New York on October 23, 2012:
Not a subject we like but one we should know about. The only time I had to deal with these critters was when my Mom was cutting down old brush and suddenly broke out in this itching rash...your guessed it, chiggers.
Voted up, useful, and interesting.
Cathy (author) from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri on July 10, 2012:
badegg, thanks for your comment. It's appreciated. I've also been told that the old product by Avon called "Skin so Soft" is another great deterrent for chiggers.
Del Banks from Southern Blue Ridge Mountains on July 10, 2012:
I lived in Missouri for well over a decade, and chiggers (redbugs) became very irritating to our family. The little pests not only bite you, but they actually burrow into your skin. Once this happens, an oil-based treatment is about the only way to get them out. My grandfather, father and father-in-law all swear by kerosene.
The lawn is not the only place you will find them. They love to accumulate on concrete steps and walls. If you sit on your front porch steps, you will get them easily.
Very good information here. Good hub.
Cathy (author) from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri on June 20, 2012:
Teaches and Francesca, thanks much for stopping by. Yes, these bite are quite annoying! Thanks for the tip on the vinegar! Have a great week!
Francesca27 from Hub Page on June 19, 2012:
Yes, we have them. Vinegar helps the itch go away.
Dianna Mendez on June 19, 2012:
These little critters do cause you immense itching. I got them once when I was on a picnic. Now, I remember to place a thick tablecloth or blanket in the area I plan to sit. Good hub to post and so helpful.
Cathy (author) from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri on June 19, 2012:
Noturningback, Moses, Writer20, and Michiganman, thanks very much for your comments. I don't think chiggers are in synthetic grass, but nothing surprises me anymore. I used to think they were like baby mosquitoes or something. Now, they just gross me out. Thanks again for the read.
noturningback from Edgewater, MD. USA on June 19, 2012:
Yuck, I think I had those things bite me before. I once heard of someone reference something called "scabies" could a continued presence of itching and redness be related to these things, and be scabies perhaps, do you know?
Joyce Haragsim from Southern Nevada on June 19, 2012:
We have synthetic grass because of the of shortage water here in Las Vegas. Do you think these Chiggers infest this type of grass.
Voted up useful and interesting.
Dave Smith from Michigan on June 19, 2012:
Those are some creepy little things. I always thought that a chigger was a biting fly.
Cathy (author) from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri on June 18, 2012:
Moonlake, thanks much for your comment. I appreciate it and I'm glad you don't have them where you are.
moonlake from America on June 18, 2012:
I hate chiggers but they like me. We once sitting on the rocks at Oklahoma's Lake Tenkiller and the chiggers got me there I was so miserable. I once sit in the grass to watch the kids on a playground in Arkansas and they got me again. My sister-in-law right beside me didn't get any. We did use clear fingernail polish on them. We don't have them here. Voted up on your hub.