Never get used to discomfort and these awful swellings making one look like a scrubby person with a repugnant appearance. Living with nature implies sharing both its benefits and hazards. The latter is no reason to get upset though, what you need is to arm yourself with the most powerful weapon at your disposal. Knowledge. The major problem with chiggers, also known as red bugs, is that they feed not only on birds and small animals but humans as well. The most nerve-racking in chigger bites is a severe itching lasting up to three weeks and red welts continuing for a long period of time.
When developing chigger control strategy, bear in mind that these pests do not belong to insects and are the larval stage of mites, more closely related to spiders. This means that only tough insecticides and drastic measures will do the job. Although chiggers can survive on human skin at most two days, this is enough to cause problems, including a risk of secondary infection resulting from scratching. Below we will provide insight into how to get rid of chiggers according to scientists’ recommendations as well as will describe chigger bite treatment suggested by specialists. We have also prepared a review of chigger repellents available on Amazon.com and a comparative chart of the products.
Table of Contents:
- What You Should Know About Chiggers
- How To Get Rid Of Chiggers In Your House
- How To Get Rid Of Chiggers In Your Yard
- What Scientists Recommend to Do to Avoid Chigger Bites
- Comparison Table of Scientifically Approved Methods
- Chigger Bite Treatment
- TOP-6 Chigger Control Products
These pests feed on skin cells, not blood. As a rule, chiggers initially get into shoes or clothing and then cling to hairs on the ankles, under the armpits or on the waist. This is most likely to happen when a person wanders through shrubs or tall grass or other dense vegetation infested with chiggers. When attacked by a chigger, one does not feel itching for several hours, but afterward, the skin irritation will be experienced for two or three weeks, with its peak reached in a day after the bite. This is due to the fact that it takes some time for the pests to find an appropriate spot to bite. When the skin becomes swollen, it often wraps the chigger what creates a wrong impression of the pest burrowing into the skin. Once bitten, the person starts to scratch the spot, something that is likely to kill the chigger but at the same time poses a more grave danger of the wound being infected if left untreated. Also, keep in mind that when dislodged from the host the chigger dies while the skin itching remains.
The first trouble you will face is to detect these annoying pests. This is not easy because they are too small, with the size varying from about one-twentieth to one-sixtieth of an inch in length. Typically chiggers have a bright red color but can also be found colored in yellow or orange. Their bodies are haired and have three pairs of legs. This species of pests survive in a natural environment only, generally, they live in damp and humid places with tall grass, shrubs and other dense vegetation. Chiggers are likely to be encountered in brushy areas full of small-sized rodents, which they normally feed on. Riverbanks, trees, and berry are highly attractive to them as well. Researchers from the University of Maryland Extension point out that chiggers are most common in vegetation transition zones. These are areas along the junction of forest and grass, near swamps and lawns close to the houses.
These pests have three life stages: eggs, larvae, and adults but it is the chigger larva that is parasitic. When a larva finds somebody to feed on, it remains on the host for three day — if undisturbed. Then, the larva transforms into the adult which then switches to other kinds of meal, namely, insects and their eggs. They can be active throughout the year in southern regions but normally this period is limited to the spring and autumn. Overwintering in the soil, female adults lay eggs in the damp soil as soon as the spring comes.
Chiggers need a host to feed on and survive. To this end, they are constantly seeking a suitable living organism but can also use inanimate objects on the ground, such as clothes and blankets, as a bridge to their host. Given that such objects imply a close contact with the human body or the pet, they may become a source of an infestation.
The best approach is to take necessary steps to prevent chigger bites and not to carry them in your house. But if it happens, you should do everything possible to minimize the damage. Scientists from the Oklahoma State University suggest that if you have to visit chigger-prone areas, put on loose-fitting clothing made of tightly woven material. Such kind of fabrics is the best protection as it reduces chances for chiggers to get access to your body through clothes. Also, wear long pants tucked into the socks as well as long-sleeved shirts tucked into pants.
After returning to home, take your clothes off and launder them. Apart from that, take a shower no later than in a couple of hours following your potential contact with these pests, what will not eliminate the problem but will decrease the number of chigger bites. “If the itching has started, though, it is too late for bathing to do much good,” the guidelines read. Pondering about how to get rid of chiggers in your house, keep in mind that not only the skin but clothes, blankets, and other items contacting the ground may be infested by them. However, according to Steven B. Jacobs, a senior extension associate with the Pennsylvania State University, chiggers do not live in structures or buildings and can be acquired outdoors only.
Remember that chiggers may live next to your door, right in the yard outside the house if the habitat is appropriate. Trim shrubbery, cut tall grass and mow the lawn to create an unfavorable environment for them. Sunlight and air penetrating the vegetation will make it drier and less attractive for chiggers craving for a humid environment. Eradicating rodents and other small animals which are prime hosts for chiggers will be helpful as well. Also, remove wood debris in your yard as it serves as a shelter for hosts of adult mites. Entomologist Jonathan M. Sargent from the Clemson University does not advise yard treatment with insecticides and considers it impractical because the vegetation can be harmed. Another downside is that a large area should be repeatedly sprayed with repellents to make the treatment effective. Nevertheless, he admits that if a pest infestation is heavy, spraying insecticides will be a good solution.
What scientists unanimously claim is that a person should protect himself or herself with chemical repellents before entering an area potentially infested with chiggers. According to entomologists with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, products containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) and Permethrin are considered to be the most effective. How should these chemicals be used? First of all, read the label and follow the instruction, because in case the stuff is not used properly, it may cause harm to the person. Apply DEET directly to the skin as well as around cuffs, tops of boots, and other spots where the pests usually make their way towards a human body. Be careful not to spray the insecticide in your eyes. Also, bear in mind that repeated applications will be needed as DEET-based products applied to the exposed skin are effective at most during the first several hours. This is due to the fact that the substance is gradually washed away with sweat produced by the human skin.
Chigger repellents with another active ingredient suggested by researchers, Permethrin, are intended for applying strictly to clothes or other artificial materials only. Never apply it to the skin. Compared with the previous chemical compound, Permethrin is a longer-lasting solution because clothing preserves insecticides for a longer period of time. Moreover, the substance will remain in the treated spots even after several launderings. Also, do not put on the treated clothes until the Permethrin-based repellent has dried. To improve the results, implement a combined approach, applying permethrin to clothes and DEET to the skin. This will be particularly effective when visiting areas of a large congregation of chiggers.
Glen C. Moore and M.E. Merchant, entomologists from The Texas A&M University System, also mention other chigger repellents: sulfur powder and chigger repellents based on plant oils. The former, like Permethrin, can also be applied to clothes. However, the effectiveness of products containing sulfur powder is not widely acknowledged. The products based on oils of natural plants are increasingly in demand due to their relative safety for humans. The scientists note that no tests proving that such repellents work against chiggers have been carried out. Nevertheless, if the label states that the repellent has been developed to repel chiggers, it is worth trying it since some protection is likely to be guaranteed.
When applied to lawns or other areas outside the house, chose products containing cyfluthrin, bifenthrin, and esfenvalerate. Permethrin will also do the job. Such repellents available in sprays will decrease chigger population in case of a heavy infestation. They are also recommended for covering large areas. Insecticides made in granules show poorer results than sprays. However, if you have decided on granular chigger repellents, bear in mind that studies have revealed that bifenthrin-based products show better performance compared to other granular repellents when used against chiggers.
Before using an insecticide, be certain that it was registered for applying to plants and around vegetation. Read and follow instructions on the label in order not to inflict damage to the environment. Also, wearing long pants and other kinds of protection is recommended when handling chemical repellents. Apart from that, keep pets away from the treated area until it is dry. To achieve better results, spray specific areas where a large number of chiggers are present. If you unaware about which sites are most infested, treat the area around ornamental plants as well as between dense vegetation and your lawn. The application should be made at the end of April and May but in case you face a heavy infestation, reapply the repellent in June.
|Wearing protective clothes||prevention||reduces the accessibility of the skin to chiggers; does not require extra spending||does not protect from all chiggers as they can cling to clothes||10|
|Trimming shrubbery, cutting tall grass||habitat modification||creates an unfavorable habitat for chiggers; environmentally friendly; long-term solution||solves the problem in your yard only, whereas chiggers can be carried with the clothes from other places; labor-consuming||9|
|Removing debris||habitat modification||eliminate sites serving as shelters for chigger hosts; environmentally friendly; long-term solution||solves the problem in your yard only, whereas chiggers can be carried with the clothes from other places; labor-consuming||8|
|DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide)||repellent||its effectiveness is scientifically proven; can be applied to the skin; safe for humans and pets; high concentration will protect in extreme weather conditions; numerous studies on DEET have been conducted over the course of seventy years||products with high concentration of DEET can pose a hazard to humans and pets; it can damage surfaces like plastics; a short -term solution||10|
|Permethrin||repellent||scientifically proven effectiveness; it is a longer-term solution and can provide the protection up to three weeks; can be used not only on clothes but also in treating the lawn; unlike DEET, it does not destroy tissues or artificial surfaces||II toxicity category (one teaspoon taken orally is lethal to humans); can be applied to clothes and other artificial items only; must not be applied to the skin; clothes must be laundered thoroughly when brought at home; toxic to cats||10|
|Sulfur powder||repellent||can be applied both to clothes and plants; has been registered as pesticide in the USA since 1920s; it is of low toxicity and pose little risk to the human and animal health; is not toxic to beneficial insects||can cause dermal toxicity; it can also cause eye and lung irritation; must not be applied within a month after the plant is treated with oil pesticides||9|
|Oils of plants||repellent||offer a natural alternative to synthetic insecticides; pose minimum risk to humans; have been used as pesticides for decades||can injure susceptible plants; less effective than chemical insecticides||8|
|Cyfluthrin||killer & repellent||a contact insecticide which interferes with nervous transmission; does not penetrate into plant tissue and can be applied to the lawns||has a short-term effect; does not completely eradicate chiggers on the lawn but rather reduces their number; helpful only in case of a heavy infestation; highly toxic to cats||10|
|Bifenthrin||killer & repellent||can be applied both indoors and outdoors, to ornamental plants and crops; disrupts the nervous system of chiggers causing paralysis||II toxicity category (one teaspoon taken orally is lethal to humans); more toxic than cyfluthrin, can cause severe skin irritation; people can be exposed to it through ingestion or skin contact; has a short-term effect||9|
Well, if the worst thing happened, do not give up but instead take steps suggested by experts as soon as possible. First of all, take a shower and sponge the welt with soap. This will kill the bulk of the pests on you. Researchers from The Iowa State University warn against using home remedies in chigger treatment because they have not been proven effective by scientific studies. The problem is that most of such solutions overlook biological peculiarities of chiggers. For example, nail lacquer does not kill these pests contrary to popular opinion. Sealing the affected spot of the skin with various remedies such as nail lacquer helps to ease itching. But the same effect will also be produced by oil or Vaseline. What is needed is to block an access of the air to the skin.
In their recommendations on how to get rid of chigger bites, the scientists suggest covering the skin with products based on antihistamines such as menthol and camphor, as well as remedies containing anesthetics and analgesics. In addition, a calamine lotion and a paste based on baking soda will be helpful in chigger bite treatment. Barb Ogg, Ph.D., from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, advise to first rub alcohol into the skin and then use local anesthetics. Do not scratch bites to avoid increased skin irritation and, more importantly, secondary infections. While scratching does really remove some chiggers, it may result in their mouthparts left in the welts causing secondary infections. Nevertheless, none of the species of chiggers in the territory of the United States carry diseases, therefore do not pose a serious threat to the human health.
Below you will find TOP 6 chigger repellents based on ingredients recommended by scientists. We have examined a chigger spray with the active ingredient Permethrin registered for applying to clothes. Another product is based on DEET and can be sprayed on the skin. A 100-percent natural spray with the active ingredient oil of Lemon Eucalyptus is intended for those unwilling to use chemicals. Sulfur powder is an alternative solution recommended by scientists for chigger control and is widely used in the territory of the USA. Treating the lawn with products not containing chemicals is increasingly in demand now. Therefore, have a look at a concentrate with the active ingredient cedar oil labeled for chiggers. For those preferring chemical solutions, we have picked up a product containing cyfluthrin, a powerful insecticide of a moderate toxicity.
Chigger Spray for Clothes: Sawyer Permethrin Insect Repellent
The product containing the active ingredient permethrin is intended for chiggers and some other pests. The stuff should be applied to clothes, sleeping bags and tents but is not intended for contacting the skin. It is a very powerful repellent compared with a 100-percent concentration of DEET. Not only does it repel the pests but kills them as well. The product’s effect continues even after six launderings or over a month. Unlike DEET, the substance does not destroy tissues, nor will it damage plastic surfaces. When applied and dried, the stuff does not have a smell. It is available as a spray in various volumes, starting from a 12-ounce bottle to four packs of 24-ounce bottles what significantly influences the price. For example, a 12-ounce spray is sold at a price of ~$9.97 while a 24-ounce bottle costs ~$10.99. The latter will be enough for four complete outfits, that is a shirt, pants, and socks.
Permethrin Insect Repellent has scored 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com, with over 3,200 customer reviews most of which are positive. “I have used this product for over 5 years and have never found a tick on me nor been infested with chiggers. Just spray over all clothing including boots completely and enjoy your time in the woods,” one of the customers wrote.
Price: ~$10.99 Check the current price
Repel 100 Insect Repellent (DEET)
This repellent with a high concentration of DEET (98.11%) is intended to protect a person in severe insect conditions. According to the manufacturer, the spray will repel chigger as well as a number of other pests. The product is for outdoor use only, with the protection lasting up to ten hours. It can be applied both directly to the skin and to the edges of the clothes. You can safely use the stuff on a daily basis without causing harm to the health. Remember that DEET is less toxic than Permethrin and other similar insecticides, however, the concentration also matters. What you need is carefully read the label directions and follow them. Particularly, be sure that the product is out of reach of your children because when used improperly it can pose a hazard.
Repel 100 rates 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com, with almost 2,500 customer reviews. “Out of everything we've tried it's the best for chiggers, no-see-ums and mosquitoes,” a satisfied customer said. To avoid bites, the users suggest spraying the stuff on all exposed areas of the skin and clothing. Another customer confirms that the solution works against chiggers but highlights a weakness of the product — the sprayer is very touchy and leaks.
Price: ~$7.89 Check the current price
Bugs BeGone Repellent - 100% Natural Essential Oil Blend
If you prefer natural solutions, this ~$10.90 option is definitely for you. Bugs BeGone is labeled for chiggers, among some other pests, and is based on a natural blend containing the essential oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. No chemicals are included in the formulation. Apart from being absolutely safe, the product also has a pleasant odor resembling a fresh lemon. Not only is the substance itself is environmentally friendly, but the container as well which is recyclable. The stuff does not stain clothes, nor does it make the skin greasy. It can be applied both to clothes and exposed areas of the skin, including the face. However, do not spray on the face directly but instead, apply the stuff to the hands and then rub it in the face and neck. Avoid getting the substance into the eyes.
Bugs BeGone rates 3.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com. “Handles chiggers very well. No longer getting bit from these critters!” one of the customers wrote. The drawback of this repellent is that it is considered to be less effective compared with chemical formulations. In particular, the effect lasts just for two hours, therefore the spray may have to be reapplied over the course of one durable stay in the forest. When sprayed generously, the bottle will be finished approximately in three days.
Price: ~$10.90 Check the current price
Yellow Sulfur Organic Powder
An organic sulfur powder can be applied to clothes and the skin, as well as on the lawn to provide the protection from chiggers. Take Vaseline and mix it with one tablespoon of sulfur, then rub a little of the mixture behind the ear. Some customers say that it can also be used to get rid of chiggers in pets, what you should do for that is just dust it on them. Nevertheless, you should first consult a local vet before applying the stuff to the animals. The drawback of the product is its medicinal smell.
The sulfur powder has scored 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com, however, there are not many customer reviews to draw compelling conclusions. One of the customers gave a useful advice on how to keep chiggers away: “To avoid chiggers put about one-half to one cup of sulfur in an old clean sock and tie off the end, leaving the sulfur in a 4-6 inch pouch at the toe. Use the sulfur sock to dust sulfur lightly over your clothes, waistband and below. Double dust on your lower legs and feet,” he wrote noting that the solution really worked against chiggers.
Price: ~$15.99 Check the current price
Natural treatment (cedar oil) to get rid of chiggers in your yard Wondercide EcoTreat
This natural concentrate based on cedar oil is intended for the outdoor use and targets a number of pests including chiggers. According to the producer, the pests are not just repelled but can also be killed by the solution. Dilute the concentrate with water and apply it to the exterior walls, in lawns and gardens using a hose-end sprayer. It is safe for children and pets even when the treated area has not dried yet. Moreover, it is safe for beneficial insects like butterflies. To control chiggers, the producer suggests two treatments 7-10 days apart, as well as reapplying the solution on a monthly basis as a preventive measure.
EcoTreat rates 3.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com, with over 200 customer reviews. It should be noted that opinions are divided. Some customers say that the concentrate is not effective while others are satisfied with the results. “This product is wonderful....we were having issues with chiggers in our back yard. I sprayed the yard and it works....no chiggers.…” one of them wrote. At any rate, all of the users have agreed that a natural solution to the problem of such pesky pests as chiggers is a great advantage.
Price: ~$39.99 Check the current price
Tempo Ultra SC, powerful insecticide (cyfluthrin)
If you still prefer chemical solutions, have a look at Tempo insecticide with an active ingredient cyfluthrin. This powerful repellent covers an area of 30,000 square feet and targets many species of pests including chiggers. Available in a concentrated form, the liquid should be diluted with water and sprayed on plants in the garden. One of its advantages is a complete lack of odor, what is a clear advantage for the product based on a chemical formulation. You will also enjoy a durable effect of this repellent lasting up to three months that is enough for a whole season. This also makes Tempo a really cost-efficient solution.
The concentrate has scored 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com, with over 600 customer reviews. “My husband sprays this in our yard to kill chiggers, ticks, ants, roaches and scorpions. We live in Arkansas in a wooded area and have a huge problem with chiggers. Now we can go out in the yard and work in the flower beds without being bothered by them,” one of the customers wrote. What the users speak with one voice is that the concentrate kills all pests in the garden and is very effective.
Price: ~$44.18 Check the current price
Chigger Control Products Comparative Chart
Sawyer Repellent, 24-ounce
|Spray, based on Permethrin|
Repel 100, 4 oz
|Spray, based on DEET|
|Spray, based on oil of Lemon Eucalyptus|
Sulfur Powder Repellent, 5 Pounds
|Powder, based on sulfur|
Wondercide EcoTreat, 16 oz
|Concentrate based on cedar oil|
Tempo Ultra SC 240 ML, 8.12 oz
|Concentrate based on cyfluthrin|