Common Name: Chigger
Scientific Name: Trombicula alfreddugesi (Oudemans)
Other Known Names: Jigger, Red Bug
For its size the chigger packs a huge punch of torment to man. The tiny chigger dwells in low damp areas of berry patches, orchards, woods, along streams, and lakes. I don’t recommend sitting in your lawn during chigger season or you may come away with several itching welts that last a week or more. Chigger bites itch every bit as bad as poison ivy or poison sumac. Chigger mites are generally bright red and about 1/20 of an inch long. They will run up your skin to areas around the band of your socks or underwear and thats where they will stop and feast. Most of the time you don’t see them, just the welt they leave after inserting their mouth into your skin and injecting a digestive enzyme secretion that breaks down the skin cells into a liquid they can suck up.
After being in a chigger infested area wash your clothes in hot water and take a hot shower to dislodge as many of the critters as possible. The bites are uncomfortable but are not know to have spread any diseases in the United States.
You can use repellants such as deet or permethrin found in drugstores or hardware stores to help reduce the discomfort of getting chigger bites. Follow the label for correct use.
Cutting briars, weeds, and thick vegetation helps to eliminate the chiggers preferred habitat.
Dursban or Sevin applied according to the label can be used to treat areas where you plan to have a family gathering this summer.
Here’s a thought I had about chiggers. I have never heard of anyone finding chiggers west of the Rockies and I can’t find any references that would attest to West Coast chiggers. If anyone has I’d really appreciate you dropping me a note.