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Chiggers

Chiggers

Chiggers

Trombicula alfreddugesi (Oudemans)

Color:  The larvae are orange, yellow or light red in color.  The nymphs and adults are usually brilliant red.

Size:  Chiggers are barely visible to the naked eye. The larvae are about 1/150 to 1/120 inch in diameter. The nymphs and adults are hairy, about 1/20 of an inch long

Chiggers are active from spring to late fall. Nymphs and adults feed on insect eggs, small insects and other organisms found on or near decaying wood. Larval chiggers congregate in shaded niches near the tips of grass leaves, weeds, sticks and other objects close to the ground. They are activated upon the approach of people, probably by odor, carbon dioxide output and other stimulating factors, and crawl onto people for feeding. Their preferred feeding locations on people are parts of the body where clothing fits tightly over the skin such as around the belt line, waistline, undergarments and under socks, or where the flesh is thin, tender or wrinkled such as the ankles, in the armpits, back of the knees, in front of the elbow, or in the groin region

Chigger larvae do not burrow into the skin, nor do they suck blood. The reason the bite itches so intensely and for such a long time is because the chigger injects saliva into its victim after attacking the skin. This saliva contains a powerful digestive enzyme that literally dissolves the skin cells it contacts. Also, this digestive fluid causes surrounding tissues to harden, forming a straw-like feeding tube of hardened skin cells from which further, partially-digested skin cells may be sucked out.

When someone itches the bite they almost always dislodge the chigger from the first scratch, however, the chigger is probably already gone from showering considering we don't feel the effects of the bite till many hours later. That is why they say the chigger is gone by the time it begins to itch.

It is the larval stage that is parasitic. Their primary hosts are reptiles and birds, with mammals (including people) secondary, almost accidental hosts. They seek tender skin, attach to the surface, inject a saliva containing a digestive enzyme and drink the dissolved skin tissue. Your body responds to this with an itchy allergic reaction. Adult chiggers are not parasitic and feed on various plant materials and other small arthropods.

Chigger larvae do not burrow into the skin, nor do they suck blood. The reason the bite itches so intensely and for such a long time is because the chigger injects saliva into its victim after attacking the skin. This saliva contains a powerful digestive enzyme that literally dissolves the skin cells it contacts. Also, this digestive fluid causes surrounding tissues to harden, forming a straw-like feeding tube of hardened skin cells from which further, partially-digested skin cells may be sucked out.

The itching probably results from the digestive action of the enzymes injected by the larva into the skin. Affected skin tissue becomes red and swollen. It may completely envelop the feeding chigger, making the chigger appear to be burrowing into the skin. Chigger bites have a more severe effect on some persons than others. The bite itches intensely and may continue itching for several days after the chigger is killed or drops off. Any welts, swelling, itching, or fever will usually develop three to six hours after exposure and may continue a week or longer. If nothing is done to relieve itching, symptoms may continue a week or more. Scratching a bite may break the skin, resulting in secondary infections. Chiggers are not known to transmit any disease in the United States.

 Prevention:

  • Eliminate chigger habitat in your yard:  Chiggers live in moist, shady areas with thick vegetation. You can effectively eliminate almost all chiggers in your yard by simply minimizing such habitat from your landscape. Mowing down briars, weeds, and thick vegetation, and keeping lawns closely clipped, will reduce chigger populations.
  • Wear proper clothing as a physical barrier against chiggers – long pants tucked into boots or tightly-woven socks; long sleeve shirt; shirt tucked into pants; and light-colored clothing so as to more easily spot chiggers.  
  • Keep moving, since the worst chigger infestations occur when sitting or laying down in a sunny spot at midday with temperatures above 60°F. They are most active in the afternoon when the ground is warm. If possible, stick to roads and trails.
  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET on both skin and clothing. Apply DEET liberally to your shoes, socks, and pant legs. Treat your waist area and shirt if you'll be in tall vegetation. Carefully apply the repellent by hand to your face, neck, and ears; you don't want DEET in your eyes or mouth! Adults should apply DEET products to young children. You may need to reapply DEET products after several hours.
  • Apply permethrin to clothing, hiking boots, and your backpack. Permethrin products should never be used on skin. It remains effective on clothing through several washings. Permethrin is sold under the names Permanone and Duranon.

After Bite Skin Care:

  • Immediately after exposure to chigger-infested areas, take a hot bath to kill and remove chigger larvae. Launder field clothes in soapy, hot water (125°F.) for about half an hour. Infested clothes should not be worn again until they are properly laundered and/or exposed to hot sunshine.

Unlaundered clothes or those laundered in cool water will contain the biting chiggers to again reinfest your skin. For temporary relief of itching, apply ointments of benzocaine, hydrocortisone, calamine lotion or others recommended by your pharmacist or doctor. The sooner the treatment, the better the results. Never apply household products such as kerosene, turpentine, ammonia, alcohol, gasoline, salt or dry cleaning fluid on affected skin.

MANUFACTURER RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS AND TREATMENT FOR Chiggers CONTROL

Pests need food, water, and shelter. Often the problem may be solved just by removing these key items. Before even thinking about chemical pest control, it is important to be aware of Pest’s Conducive conditions & It’s Recommendations.

Pesticides can be purchased in many different forms, each form has specific uses and application methods The pesticide application method you choose depends on the nature and habits of the target pest, the properties of the pesticide, the suitability of the application equipment, and the cost and efficiency of alternative methods. Your choice is often predetermined by one or more of these factors. Follow label directions for volume recommendations and application rates based on the pest to be controlled and utilize appropriate application tips on equipment. , these application methods are for informational purposes only. To know specific applications method/s for the product you buy, please refer actual packages for complete Label Verbiage.

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