Chigger bites can be extremely irritating and uncomfortable. So, let’s learn how to get rid of chiggers in your yard to ensure these pests won’t have the chance to hitch a ride on you, your family, or your pets. These common mites cause the majority of the itchy, summertime bites that occur. They thrive in brushy or grassy areas and typically bite exposed skin around your feet, ankles, and shins. Once you know a bit about chiggers in Texas, you’ll be equipped to make your yard safe for summertime activities again.
What are Chiggers?
In order to get rid of chiggers, you should probably know exactly what they are. Chiggers, or trombiculid mites, are insects so small you almost can’t see them. They aren’t dangerous, but their bites are extremely itchy. Technically a part of the arachnid family, they are more closely related to spiders than insects. You may hear them referred to as harvest bugs, berry bugs, red bugs, harvest mites, or mower’s mites.
The adults don’t bite, it’s the babies you need to be worried about. After hatching, these babies don’t travel too far. They stay clumped together in groups on long grasses, leaves, or other damp vegetation usually less than a foot off the ground.
While chiggers prefer small animals to humans when it comes to a host, that won’t stop them from grabbing on and exploring their host before feeding. Reptiles such as lizards and snakes as well as other small animals are their hosts of choice.
These bugs are most active when the ground temperature is between 77 and 85 degrees. This means you can expect the most bites in the late spring, summer, and fall. They start to die off when the soil drops below 42 degrees.
Chiggers in Texas
There are countless species of chiggers in the state of Texas but only two of them are problematic. The Eutrombicula splendens, prefers wet, damp habitats such as rotten stumps or swampy areas. The other is the Eutrombicula alfreddugesi which you would likely encounter in grassy or weedy areas with briar patches and wooded spots. Chiggers are often distributed unevenly as they tend to be heavily concentrated in one spot. If you live in the Dallas area and would like to hire a pest control company to get rid of chiggers in your yard, give us a call or click here to see pricing. We serve the entire area including Forth Worth, Arlington, and Farmers Branch.
Do Chiggers Bite?
Chiggers may be extremely small but that doesn’t stop them from biting. They have claws that help them cling to warm, moist skin where they inject saliva. Their saliva contains digestive enzymes that liquify skin cells, in turn causing extreme itching. Once a chigger has latched onto a human host, it may not let go for up to 3 days. Although all the scratching induced from the bite may knock them loose sooner.
Where Do Chiggers Live?
You will find chiggers in pretty much every state in the U.S. along with every country in the world. They are literally everywhere. Small enough to be nearly invisible, their bite can still pack a punch. Chiggers are prevalent from the Midwest to the Southeast and further north. Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and even Texas are all primary chigger states.
You’re most likely to come across chiggers in areas of dense, overgrown vegetation, grass, and weeds. Keeping grass cut short and vegetation properly manicured can lower humidity and raise soil temperatures enough to make lawns less inviting. Chigger infestations are far less common in landscaped environments and well-maintained turfgrass. Riverbanks and other moist areas of overgrown vegetation are also chigger hot spots. Another area you will likely encounter chiggers is near the outskirts of wooded areas or forests.
Chigger bites can take up to 2 weeks to heal and can easily become infected from scratching. These bites often appear in clusters, mostly below your waist. Itching usually begins within 3 to 6 hours after an initial bite. The development of reddish areas and sometimes clear pimples and bumps will appear shortly after. Itching typically peaks within 24-48 hours.
Some people think chigger bites can spread but that isn’t the case. Once the larvae finish feeding and eventually fall from your body, resist the urge to scratch. This will ensure the skin irritation goes away much quicker.
Preventing Chigger Bites
While chigger bites are common, there are things you can do to avoid them.
Take Preventative Measures
- Wear protective clothing when hiking, or heading into areas with tall grass and vegetation. We recommend long pants, long sleeve shirts, tall socks, and hiking boots. Loose-fitting clothing is preferred as it minimizes the movement of chiggers through your clothing. Try to cover any exposed skin and avoid lying or sitting directly on the ground. Remove clothing worn in known chigger habitats and wash them before wearing them again.
- Immediately take a shower or bath with hot soapy water. Scrub your entire body with a rag. If any chiggers have settled in, you want to dislodge them as soon as possible. A shower will also lessen the skin reaction to any bites that may have occurred.
- There are a variety of insect repellents on the market that are very useful in offering protection from chiggers and other insects. When using repellents with deet, be certain to cover any areas of exposed skin such as above your socks and near your neck and sleeves. Repellents lose their potency after a few hours so reapply often. You can also spray your clothing with stronger repellents for an added layer of protection. Products containing permethrin are long-lasting and will remain effective even after washings. Do not spray directly on your skin.
How to Identify Chiggers in Your Yard?
It’s extremely difficult to know how to treat an insect or pest problem without first identifying the culprit. If you think your yard is infested with chiggers or mites, there’s a simple solution. Procure a small piece of black cardboard, about 6” x 6”. Exact dimensions aren’t important. Place the cardboard in a place where you think chiggers might be. Wear protective clothing. Remember, they gather in moist, shaded areas. If chiggers are near, they will jump onto the cardboard. They will be difficult to see so you may have to pull out a magnifying glass. If you see something that looks like tiny, red sprinkles, you’ve got chiggers.
Can Chiggers Live in Your House?
Rest assured that chiggers can’t survive indoors. There is no chance of them creeping into your bed or carpet and multiplying. Chiggers
aren’t able to breed or complete their life cycle indoors. So, even if you were to bring chiggers in the house with you on your sweatshirt or pants, they won’t survive long.
Can Chiggers Live in Your Bed?
Having any kind of bug in your bed is a haunting thought. Fortunately, as mentioned earlier, chiggers won’t last long indoors and that includes your bed!
How To Get Rid of Chiggers in Your Yard
Once you’ve experienced the itchy and irritating bite from a chigger and the raised blister that follows, you’ll recognize them right away. Here are a few things you can do to eliminate your chigger problem:
1. Control with Products
The best time to start treating your lawn for chiggers is in the early spring. This will kill the newly hatched pests before they can mature and reproduce. To get rid of chiggers in your lawn or around your house, we recommend using products with cyfluthrin, bifenthrin, and permethrin. Only tough insecticides and drastic measures will get the job done right. When applying insecticides to your lawn, wear long pants, shoes, and long sleeves to protect yourself. Remember to remove pets during application and keep them contained until the residue is completely dry.
- Wondercide Natural Spray– This natural repellent covers up to 5000 sq. ft. and is made with the oils of cedarwood and sesame. It’s safe for children and pets even when the treated area has not dried yet. It also won’t harm the beneficial insects in your yard such as ladybugs or butterflies.
- BASF Cy-Kick CS – A 16 oz. bottle of this powerful professional-grade insecticide will make a 30 gallon, odorless solution. Once mixed it’s ready to go. For outdoor use only.
- Yellow Sulfur Powder
An organic sulfur powder can be applied to your lawn as well as your clothes and skin, as protection from chiggers. Some say it also works for pets. Just give them a dusting of the powder. Consult with your vet before applying.
2. Yard Maintenance Tips
Remember that chiggers may be in the shrubs just outside your front door or in your favorite family picnic area in your yard. If you provide the right habitat, they will settle in and make themselves at home.
- Do your best to create an unfavorable environment for them. Keep shrubs and bushes trimmed back, mow your lawn and cut any tall grass. This maintenance keeps areas of vegetation dry and free from the moisture chiggers seek out.
- Keep your yard as rodent-free as possible. Chiggers search out small mammals to use as hosts.
- Remove wood or yard debris that would shelter small rodents or adult mites.
Can Dogs Get Chiggers?
If you notice your pet scratching more than normal, they could certainly have chiggers. Both dogs and cats can be very irritated by these bites. It may sound funny, but inspect your pet’s ears for what may look to you like paprika. Chiggers can resemble this red, cooking spice.
This parasite is common in dogs but can be easily confused with other common issues. Symptoms from chigger bites in dogs could look like fleas, dermatitis, or scabies. If red bumps and constant itching persist after treating these symptoms, it’s most likely chiggers and not some other skin condition.
Here are some of the symptoms to look for:
- Your dog may develop pimples on his skin
- Rashes may appear, especially on areas that come in contact with the ground most often
- General irritation or redness in patches
- You may notice hair loss from severe irritation and scratching ● Broken skin or even lesions may appear
- Red raised bumps that look inflamed or irritated appear that won’t go away
Your dog may simply be exposed to chiggers in a variety of ways. Adult mites lay their legs on the ground and once hatched, attack your dog. Chiggers attach themselves to your dog or cat looking for a host to feed on, eventually falling off and malting into adults. Your dog may be exposed to a larvae hatch when laying on the grass or running through bushes.
Chigger Treatment in Dogs
Once your dog has chiggers it may be hard to get rid of them. There are some natural remedies you can try at home or your veterinarian can prescribe a treatment plan.
The first step is to get your dog a bath in warm, soapy water. This can help release any chiggers from your pet’s fur or skin. If the itching continues, give your dog a soothing oatmeal bath. An epsom salt bath can also aid in your anti-itch efforts. Hydrocortisone, green tea bags, and ice packs are all other options to try.
If you’ve tried the above options without success, your veterinarian may suggest treatments used to get rid of parasites. These may include a dip or spray. They will likely have multiple options to explore that will clear things up.
It may take up to 2 weeks for your dog to heal. The important thing to remember is that unless your yard is now free from chiggers, your dog isn’t safe. It could be a very vicious cycle. Take the time and preventative measures mentioned above to ensure your yard is chigger-free.
How to get rid of Chiggers Conclusion
If you’re concerned you may be dealing with chiggers in your yard, or have other pest control questions, call Vinx Pest Control. Our trained professionals have experience with any pest, insect, or rodent you can think of. Knowing how, when, and where to apply our products is how we get such awesome results. Our technicians undergo thorough product application insect treatment, insect identification, and prevention training. We want to ensure that we keep your family safe while getting to the root of the issue. We serve the entire Dallas area, Charleston SC, and Greenville SC.