Last updated on July 28th, 2023 at 08:50 am
They are some of the sneakiest bugs. You can’t see them and won’t feel their bite while they take you as host. However, you’ll feel that intense itching almost 24 hours later that lets you know ‘we were here’. If you have several pimple-like, red itchy bumps on your skin, and you’re sure they aren’t mosquitoes or bedbugs, you may have chiggers in your home. Your next course of action is to get rid of those invisible bugs, and here’s how:
How to Get Rid of Chiggers in Your Home
1. Take a Shower
First, you need to make sure they are all off your body. Remember, you can’t feel them so they are probably on your skin. It doesn’t make sense to remove them from the rest of the house if they are still latching on to you. Take a shower with hot water and soap.
Make sure the water is as hot as you can handle. Do not use lukewarm water. Take a body sponge or washcloth lather some soap on it and scrub your body vigorously to ensure any chiggers that might be on your skin fall off. Rinse your body and repeat the process a few more times for good measure.
2. Wash Your Clothes
Take the clothes you’re wearing (when you realized they were chigger bites) and the rest of the clothes in your laundry basket from the days before and wash them in hot soapy water. Remember you only feel the itching after one or two days, which means your clothes from the days before could have chiggers. Wash your bedsheets too as you’ve slept in them the past two days.
To ensure that you kill the chiggers, the water should be at a minimum temperature of 52°C or 125°F. The washing cycle should last at least 30 minutes so that those bugs are washed away. Dry your laundry in a drying machine or under the sun.
3. Vacuum Your House
Vacuum your whole house from corner to corner, under the sofas, behind the curtains, everywhere. Vacuum the house a second time just to ensure you’ve got rid of all the chiggers. These pesky bugs normally show up during summer, so continue to vacuum every day without fail. Sweeping won’t help, it pushes the dirt and the chiggers around while the vacuum sucks them up.
Vacuum your sofas, ensuring that you reach under the cushions. Use special attachments to reach those hard to reach corners. Use some carpet shampoo to wash all the rugs and carpets in the house using a shampooer. If you can also use some soapy water on the sofas.
4. Clean with Hot Water or Steam
Cleaning your house with hot water is effective in killing these bugs. Chiggers moving around will not stand a chance with hot water and soap. This also helps you to effectively kill any other bugs and prevent infections. The water should be at a temperature of 50°C minimum. Ensure that every corner of your house is cleaned.
Take precaution by wearing heavy-duty gloves and other protective gear to avoid getting burned. Steam works the same way as hot soapy water to kill chiggers. Instead of a domestic handheld steam cleaner, use a commercial one as it’s more effective. Slowly move the commercial steam cleaner over the areas in your home that may have chiggers, your floors, carpets, sofas, bed, and so on.
5. Eliminate Their Habitat
They typically live around shrubs and tall grass, especially hidden from direct sunlight. For example in weedy areas, overgrown lawns, and leaf litter. When you go outside to garden or even while walking through your lawn, they get onto your clothing and inside your house.
When you eliminate their habitat, there’s no chance that they’ll come into your home. Mow your lawn regularly and keep it clean. Remove fallen leaves before they accumulate and ensure that you prune your plants so that they don’t overgrow. When plants overgrow they create shady spots that are conducive for the population of chiggers.
6. Preventive Methods
The best way to get rid of chiggers is to prevent them in the first place. Keep them away from your pets by bathing them with warm water mixed with flea and tick shampoo. Chiggers get onto dogs too but not on their fur. Instead, they will attach to their head especially on the skin around the eyes and ears.
If your pooch is the kind with folds in their skin, chiggers will cause them much misery. Another preventive method is to avoid walking through tall grass. If you can’t, ensure that you’re wearing clothing that covers up your skin. Brush your exposed skin every thirty minutes to remove any chiggers.
7. Seek Professional Help
If you’ve done all the above and nothing seems to work, get in touch with pest control professionals in your area. Should you choose to use a pesticide, they will advise you on the most effective pesticide for chiggers with directions on the safe application. You may need to wear gloves and a mask to prevent the chemical from touching your skin and inhalation.
What Are Chiggers?
Chiggers are mite larvae. They are arachnids of the Trombiculidae family where ticks and spiders also fall. They are also known as red bugs, trombiculid mites, harvest bugs, harvest mites, harvest lice, or mower’s mites. These six-legged bugs are red and so tiny (less than 0.3 millimeters long) that you can hardly see them with your naked eye.
Where Do They Live?
Adult female mites will lay eggs in vegetation, like a lawn or leaf litter. When the eggs hatch, the larvae can’t fly and won’t go very far alone. They typically collect in large groups on the grass and leaves close to the ground, then attach themselves to people’s clothes and skin or animals as they pass by. When they find a warm or moist spot on your skin, they’ll attack.
How Do They Bite?
Contrary to what most people believe, chiggers do not suck blood or burrow under your skin. Instead, they pierce the skin with their needle-like mouthparts and inject their saliva into the hole. Their saliva contains digestive enzymes that decompose the surrounding skin cells which they feed on for about 3 to 4 days before dropping off to molt.
Can Chiggers Infest Your Home?
Unlike other bugs like cockroaches and bedbugs that can stay in your home in unusually large numbers, chiggers cannot. The reason other bugs infest your home is that it’s conducive for their survival either by way of food or shelter. For example, Bed bugs feed on your blood and like it indoors while cockroaches feed on well, everything and hate the light.
When it comes to chiggers, their eggs are laid in grassy environments and they tend to live near the ground. The only reason chiggers need to be in your home is you, and only for a few days. They need to feed on the decomposed skin cells so that they can morph into nymphs. Nymphs feed on decomposed plant matter so they’ll be out of your way to look for food outside.
How Long Can Chiggers Live in Your House?
Chiggers come into your house by traveling on your clothes. Sometimes, they are lucky and can find a patch of your skin to grab. Other times, they might not be so lucky and you’ll take off your jacket or your pants with them still on. What happens to them then? If they aren’t feeding, they can live in your house for about two months before they die.
They’ll remain in your house, on furniture, clothing, and carpets waiting for an opportunity to feed. However, when they find a host in your house, they’ll feed for about four days before they drop off to molt. They’ll morph into nymphs that are harmless to humans. Then they’ll immediately leave the house to find food outside.
How Do You Get Rid of Chiggers Fast?
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is one of the most effective ways to get rid of chiggers fast. It works by dehydrating the chigger until it dies. This substance is also effective on other pests. The great quality about diatomaceous earth is that it’s a natural product which some people consume for health reasons. Make sure you purchase the food-grade type as it will not harm your pets or children.
This substance is safe to use indoors as well as outdoors. All you have to do is sprinkle it on the affected areas. Make sure you’re wearing a mask while sprinkling so that you don’t inhale it even if it’s food-grade DE. Make sure your windows are closed so that the wind doesn’t blow it into the air you’re breathing. The chiggers should be dead within 12 hours of application.
What Do Chiggers Hate?
Chiggers hate the smell of sulfur which makes it a great repellant. When going outside, sprinkle some powdered sulfur anywhere below the knees, like on your legs downwards to your ankles. You can also sprinkle it on your shoes or boots if you’re doing yardwork and the smell will keep them at a safe distance. Be sure not to inhale the powder while sprinkling it as it may irritate your lungs.
Chiggers also hate essential oils like citronella, clove, thyme, and lemongrass. When you apply a mixture of these oils, chiggers will steer clear of you. For it to last longer on your skin, you’ll need a fixative like hairy basil or turmeric oil. These might be natural repellants but you need to apply the mixture to a tiny part of your skin first to ensure that it won’t irritate you.
What Time of Day Are Chiggers Most Active?
Chiggers love warm, inviting weather and are most active in the afternoons especially during spring, summer, and fall. Their optimum activity The optimum activity occurs at temperatures of 25–30°C. Suffice to say, chiggers can transform a mid-afternoon romantic picnic or a calm and peaceful day by the lake into a week of agonized scratching and irritation.
Chiggers are sensitive to temperature and don’t do well with extremes. You won’t find chiggers when it’s hotter than 37°C and they’ll become inactive when the temperature falls below 16˚C. Temperatures below 6˚C will kill them.
What Are Chiggers Attracted to?
Chiggers are naturally attracted to bushy and moist environments for habitation and nesting. These include dense shrubs, leaf piles, shaded landscapes, and overgrown grass. Their females lay eggs in this environment and the chiggers generally stay around there until they find a host, usually a person.
So this means they are attracted to people too. Chiggers are attracted to us by our movement and the carbon dioxide we exhale. That’s how they sense us. They are drawn to warm moist parts of the body which explains why they usually bite in folds of skin like the armpit, crotch, behind knees, ankles, or waist.
What Will Eat Chiggers?
Most bugs are prey to birds like chicken and guinea. However, chiggers are too tiny for these big birds to eat and you can’t eat what you can’t see, right? Besides chiggers are always hiding below bushy grass and are usually close to the ground.
They can’t hide from every predator though. Chiggers have the same predators as other mites. They include fire ants, lizards, centipedes, small birds, beetles, and salamanders. Other possible predators are any small creatures that live in marshes, forests, creek banks, and meadows where chiggers abound.
A Final Word
Unlike other bugs, chiggers won’t make you sick when they bite. Although that sounds like a good thing, their extremely itchy bites are uncomfortable and can ruin your day or week. The surefire way to getting rid of them is keeping your outdoor area clean and well-manicured. If you live in an apartment building that has an overgrown lawn or unpruned plants, take up the matter with management.
Otherwise, ensure that you are taking responsibility for what is within your power to avoid them, like wearing clothes that cover your skin, washing laundry with hot water, and taking a hot shower when you get back in the house. However, if you do get bitten, don’t worry, those red bumps won’t last forever and calamine lotion or an anti-itch cream will provide much-needed relief.