We’ve all heard about chiggers and the little bites they give when we're playing in the grass. However, most people have never actually seen them. Are chiggers even real, or did your parents just use that as an excuse to keep you from getting grass stains? Chiggers are very real, but what exactly are they?
What are Chiggers?
Chiggers are small red mites that are only about .15 to .25 mm long. They have 8 legs and they start their life cycle when an adult female lays eggs in the soil. Mites will wait on the soil surface until they find a host to feed on. Chiggers prefer to feed on people, as well as small mammals like snakes and birds. They feed on broken-down skin cells, unlike ticks who embed themselves into the skin to suck blood.
Why Do Chiggers Make Me Itch?
When chigger mites feed, they inject a secretion that breaks skin cells down into a liquid. This secretion causes the human body to react in red, itchy bumps. You can commonly find chigger bites around the top of socks, waist of pants, and other locations where clothing is tight against the body. However, this doesn’t mean that they can’t travel to other locations on the body to feed for a few days.
Signs and Symptoms of a Chigger Infestation
Most commonly, the itchy red bites are the most obvious sign of an infestation. However, it is easy to get chigger bites confused with other pest bites. Since chigger mites are so small, it is difficult to spot them. They prefer thick grassy areas where the soil isn’t commonly disturbed. So, if you discover these bites 3+ hours after being in this habitat, it is possible they have found you to be a suitable host.
Chiggers can infest dogs or cats, however, they cannot be passed from pets to humans. Dogs and Cats can react by scratching at their ears, but sometimes they are unaware they are infested. If your pet has chiggers, they have likely been in a chigger-infested area outdoors.
How To Avoid Chigger Mites
One of the best ways to avoid chiggers is to apply insect repellent when spending time outdoors, especially when heading into the woods. This will protect you from not only chiggers, but also, ticks, mosquitoes, and more. If you are concerned about chiggers or any other pests around your home, contact American Pest for assistance.
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