First Aid & Safety Procedures : How to Avoid Chiggers
How to Avoid Chigger Bites
Chiggers, or red bugs, are not insects, but rather the larvae of mites. This means they're in the same family with spiders! Chiggers can be found in outdoor areas similar to those inhabited by ticks. Unlike tick bites, chigger bites are unlikely to carry a disease. They are, however, itchy and long lasting.You can avoid chigger bites by taking certain precautions when spending time outdoors. Chiggers are usually too small to be seen with the naked eye, so getting to know the habitat and behaviors of chiggers is the best way to avoid their bites.
Avoiding Areas with Chiggers
Avoid spots where chiggers are commonly found.In the United States, chiggers are most common in the humidity of the Southeast and the Midwest. Chiggers thrive on warmth and moisture. Avoid walking through brush, tall grass, and weeds. Avoid marshes, swamps, and wooded habitats with rotting leaves and stick piles.
- Chiggers often wait in the underbrush and low shrubs to attach to small animals, which are their natural hosts. Stay away from bushes and vines that might brush against your body and deposit chiggers.
- Chiggers rarely move very far from the sites where they hatch, resulting in patches of chiggers in damp and warm areas.
Sit strategically.Avoid sitting or lying directly on the ground during the summer months. Instead, bring a folding chair or blanket to spread beneath you. Avoid perching on stumps or logs. Instead, sit on an object that is dry and hot, such as a rock that is warm from the sun.
Plan activities when chiggers are least active.Chiggers are most likely to bite in the afternoons of the spring and summer, when the ground temperature is between 77–86 °F (25–30 °C). They become inactive below 60 °F (15.6 °C), and die when the temperature drops below 42 °F (5.6 °C). During chigger season, plan outdoor excursions when the weather is cool or dry.
Keeping Chiggers Off Your Body
Dress to prevent chigger bites.Wear long pants and shirts with long sleeves when in a chigger habitat. Tightly woven fabric with minimal openings provide the most protection. Tuck your shirt into your pants to keep your skin from being exposed, as chiggers often target the waistband area.Chiggers also target the thin skin on your ankles, around your crotch, under your arms, and behind your knees, so keep those areas covered.
- Wear shoes and socks to avoid chigger bites on the feet and ankles. If you will be in a particularly high-risk area for chigger bites, such as a marsh or swamp, tuck your pants into a pair of high socks to prevent chiggers crawling onto the ankle.
Use a bug repellent as a barrier.Buy an insect repellent containing diethyl meta-toluamide (DEET) or Permethrin at any store that sells camping supplies. Spray an insect repellent that contains DEET around the tops of your socks, your waist, and at your ankles to keep chiggers from getting under your clothes.
- DEET may be applied to clothing or skin, but should be washed from the skin as soon as possible. Spray a repellent that contains Permethrin on your clothes only.
- Carefully follow the instructions when using Permethrin and DEET. Permethrin can cause burning or itching if it comes into contact with your skin, and DEET can do the same if left on the skin for hours. DEET and Permethrin are not classified as carcinogenic or non-carcinogenic to humans.
- Look for lotions and sprays that advertise repelling chiggers or red bugs specifically, in addition to ticks and mosquitoes.
Apply sulfur.If you are wary of the chemicals in DEET and Permethrin, you can try dusting your clothing with sulfur powder. It will, however, smell like rotten eggs. Powdered sulfur can be purchased at any pharmacy, nursery, or feed store.
Shower after exposure.Take a warm shower or bath soon after having been in a potential chigger habitat to wash off any chiggers that may have attached to your body. Contrary to popular belief, chiggers do not burrow under the skin, and can be easily brushed or washed off the body. Thoroughly rubbing your skin with a towel also helps dislodge chiggers.
- Wash your clothing after tromping through chigger territory. You will want to clean any lingering mites off your clothing, as well as any repellent you have applied.
Keeping a Chigger-Free Yard
Keep outdoor areas well-groomed.Mow long grass to cut down on chigger-infested foliage. Keeping your grass short allows sun to penetrate your lawn, drying out the grass and dirt. Chiggers thrive in moisture and avoid high heat.
Treat your lawn with a mild insecticide.Apply a few ounces of dish soap in a gallon of water to areas near bushes to curb the populations of chiggers and other pest populations. Use chemical pesticides containing permethrin, cyfluthrin, diazinon,and carbaryl sparingly, as they may wipe out healthy insect and animal populations.
Discourage rodents.Chiggers live on rodents and small animals that live in brush and woodpiles. Remove any brush and wood debris from your yard. Use gardening gloves and wash your skin with soapy water after working. Put up a fence if you have a serious chigger-host problem.
- Secure the lids of your trash cans to discourage visits from small animals.
QuestionMy insect repellent says 40% DEET but doesn't list any other ingredients. How can I find out what else is in it?
Family Medicine PhysicianFamily Medicine PhysicianExpert AnswerYou would probably have to do a search online or call the company directly.Thanks!
QuestionIs there anything you can eat or drink that helps ward off chiggers?
Family Medicine PhysicianFamily Medicine PhysicianExpert AnswerNo, there is nothing that you can eat or drink that helps to ward off chiggers. The best method is using DEET and Permethrin.Thanks!
QuestionWhat's the best way to get rid of chigger bites?James RaymondCommunity AnswerAny product that contains camphor will help the itching for a couple of hours. Many of your pain-relieving ligaments contain this. Products like Vicks VapoRub and sports muscle rubs can help. Just read the active ingredients label, look for Lidocaine or arnica. You can also try soaking in a bath with Epsom salts. Beyond that, you basically just have to wait it out.Thanks!
QuestionDo chiggers go through shoes?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, chiggers will not go through typical shoes.Thanks!
QuestionDoes wearing socks all day/night cause chigger bites on the bottoms of feet?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSocks will help to prevent chigger bites, but not entirely.Thanks!
QuestionWould it be a good idea to apply a thick coat of coconut oil to my entire body before going in chigger infested areas? I don't think bugs can survive on an oily host.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt worked for me! During our family photos last summer my girls and I wore dresses. I was the only one that didn't get chiggers and I was the only one that applied coconut oil all over my legs just before we left for the shoot.Thanks!
Is it true that chiggers need clothes to attach themselves to, and I wouldn't get them if I didn't wear clothes?
How do I avoid chigger bites if they find their way to my skin even when I tuck my clothes in?
Is Deep Woods Off with 25.6% DEET an effective spray to avoid chiggers with?
What is the best thing to use for itch caused by chigger bites? I take allergy medication and it helps, but what can I put on the bites?
Does eating garlic discourage ticks and chiggers from biting me?
- Some people believe dark colors attract chiggers and insects. Wearing light colors in the summer months may help with chiggers, and will keep you cool when spending time outdoors. It may also make the insects easier to spot.
- You are unlikely to get chiggers from your pet.
- If you experience fever or swelling from chigger bites, or if you have an allergy to hydrocortisone or calamine lotion, see your doctor immediately for treatment of bites.
- Chigger bites rarely cause more than a minor discomfort if treated with hydrocortisone or calamine lotion when discovered. Avoid scratching bites, which can result in a bacterial infection.
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