Ardent hikers or outdoor adventurers know too well how much itchy and disconcerting chigger bites can be – they are worse than mosquito bites. These little red bugs from the spider family are common in bushes and brush, and they adore high humidity. When they invade your home, they can make life unbearable for you and your family.
In the majority of cases, chiggers leave red bumps, and a lot of itching after feasting on you and falling off. Even though the inflicted marks eventually heal on their own, rubbing with soapy water or a mixture of petroleum jelly works some magic. In cases of severe reactions, it’s best to consult a physician. Below are suggestions on exterminating or preventing a chigger infestation within your home.
How you Identify Chiggers
The harvest lice or harvest bugs, as they are known, are tiny bugs belonging to the same family as ticks and spiders – the arachnids. You will find them in every country around the world and they love moist areas, forests and grassy areas; somewhere with sufficient shade and where they can hide.
The bites don’t come from the adult chigger, but instead, the babies. Measuring only 0.3mm, the chigger larvae are usually, red, yellow or orange.
Upon hatching, these babies don’t move a lot, and clump together in the grass or leaves waiting to attach to passing people or animals.
The red bugs are so tiny that you cannot see them with your bare eyes. So how do you identify them?
The easiest, and of course, strange way of identifying chiggers is by their bites. Chiggers leave red itchy bumps after inflicting some damage on the skin. However, you can also identify them by placing a bowl of water outside and waiting for an hour. Chiggers love humidity so much that they will crowd the dish and form red rims on it. You may require a magnifying glass to see them well.
Why do Chiggers Bite?
Well, chiggers don’t wake up one day and decide to inflict pain on animals and people. It is a way of survival. Typically, when chiggers attach to your skin, they make a small hole in it and inject their saliva, which liquefies the blood cells. The mashed cells are food to them. In other words, you are a source of food for them.
The little bugs can remain attached to the skin for several days during which your skin will itch like crazy, and have hive-like bumps where they are feeding.
How to Remove Chiggers
Clear the Bush
Chiggers hide in brush and wait for their victim to rub against them. The easiest way of removing them is by getting rid of their hiding places. Landscape the tall vegetation and mow the lawn. Cut any excessive bushes, long grass, and weeds that provide the shelter and moisture they thrive in.
Cleaning with Hot Soapy Water
If you suspect that your home is also home to chiggers, take steps to remove them by cleaning the house with hot soapy water – this will kill the tiny bugs. The warm soapy water will also apply on clothing and skin you suspect to have chiggers.
If you suspect that a family of chiggers has moved in with you, maybe because of the itching and red bumps, then vacuum your house on a regular basis. Focus primarily on those areas you think the rascals are staying, behind curtains, under sofa, tables and chairs.
You can as well use small attachments of a vacuum machine to clean between the sofa and furniture. Use a carpet shampooer together with soapy water to clean rugs and carpets.
Bathe the Pets Regularly
Fluffy doesn’t like water at all but bathing him in warm water and with flea shampoo will remove any attached bugs. Pets love to play outside and may pick up hordes of chiggers and bring them home. If you suspect that the cat or dog has been in contact with chiggers, bathe them in hot soapy water immediately.
Keep Chigger Hosts at Bay
Amphibians and reptiles are favorite chigger hosts, and they can bring the little bugs along to our property. One way to avoid a chigger infestation is to evict these preferred chigger hosts from your property. But how do you prevent amphibians and reptiles stopping by?
Well, by simply removing all standing water, shrubbery and foliage makes your place unfavorable for these animals and hence reduced chances of chigger introduction. Make sure the trash cans have secure lids and if necessary, put a fence around your property.
Protect Yourself Outdoors
If you are going for an outdoor adventure, maybe somewhere bushy or with tall grass, wear the right clothing. Ideally, the clothes should not have openings where chiggers can access your skin. Tuck your shirt and have high boots if going into a tall grassy area – hunters frequent such regions.
You can as well sprinkle some sulfur powder on your shoes and clothing if you are going to a known chigger-infested area. Chiggers will not go anywhere there’s sulfur.
Diethyltoluamide repellents are not only useful on a host of bugs, but also on chiggers. If you are going camping and must lie on the grass, then use diethyltoluamide repellents.
All you will need to do is apply the spray on the bare parts of your body such as the hands and feet. However, avoid contact with some of the most sensitive parts of your body such as eyes, mouth, and ears.
Get a Professional
If all fails and the chiggers still love hanging around your property, it’s time you hire a bug hitman. A pest control professional will bring in the big guns to get rid of chiggers and any other pest problem you may be having. However, you will still need to continuously wash your house with hot soapy water, and clean the pets often. You can never be too careful when it comes to such bugs as chiggers.