Enjoying the outdoors can bring enjoyment into your life, but it can also bring unwelcome visitors, like chiggers. These tiny arachnids can leave you scratching and suffering from painful bites. Chiggers are the immature stage of some mites. Learning about the life cycle of chiggers can help you make the right moves when removing and keeping them out of your home.
Chiggers bite humans when they’re at the larvae stage for a short period, before progressing to full-grown mites, who have no interest in humans. The good news is that there are easy steps you can take to keep chiggers from entering your home, and keeping them out. Here’s a handy guide to everything you need to know.
In This Article
1. Where Chiggers Live
Chiggers are immature mites who use human or animal skin as food to survive. In order to find food sources, chiggers favor tall grass and brush that gives them access to food sources as they walk by. Once they find a food source, they will feed for 3-4 days, until they no longer need to.
Because chiggers need a human or animal food source for a short time, they’re less likely to take up residence inside. Even though their biting stage doesn’t last long, these tiny pests are carried inside your home on clothing and pets. They can cause problems unless you take steps to remove them right away.
2. How to Keep Chiggers Out of Your Home
You and your pets are the chiggers favorite mode of transportation, and that means they can end up in your home, your bed, and in your carpet, while in the feeding stage of their life. Here’s how to stop chiggers from hitching a ride inside your house:
- When you work outside, or come home from spending time outdoors, change out of your clothes and place them directly into the laundry.
- Always leave shoes and boots outside.
- Wipe pets off before coming back inside, with a towel kept outside.
- Shower and wash your hair immediately after working in the yard, or hiking in chigger-infested areas.
- Apply pet-safe chigger-specific repellent to your dog before going on hikes and walks in areas where chiggers live.
3. What to do Once You Find Chiggers Inside Your Home
Even with the best tips and precautions, chiggers may still get inside your home. Though the chigger’s biting life stage is short, you’ll want to remove them from your home right away to prevent more bites. Thankfully, chiggers can only survive a short time without a host, so cleaning your bedding prevents them getting on your skin again. Removing chiggers inside is very much like a deep-cleaning for your home, and it’s easy to do. Here’s how:
- Remove all bedding and take directly to your laundry room for a hot water wash. Don’t forget throws, pillow shams, and bedskirts.
- Vacuum your carpets and rugs thoroughly, using attachments to reach corners and edges.
- Empty your vacuum cartridge or bag outside into a plastic bag, and put it into an outdoor garbage can.
- Wash all towels and other personal linens that may have been used during the infestation.
- Don’t forget to wash pet beds and towels, too.
4. Yard Tips for Keeping Chiggers Outside
Chiggers love unkempt yards, and natural landscaping. The very survival of chiggers relies on grass and brush tall and loose enough to facilitate transfer to a food source. While you can’t completely eliminate every chigger-friendly spot outdoors, you can take steps to make your yard as inhospitable to them as possible:
- Keep your lawn short and manicured. This is especially helpful if you have pets who spend time inside and out.
- Removing tall grass reduces the opportunities for chiggers to reach your socks and pant legs, and your dog or cat’s fur.
- Look to see if you have standing water or damp areas that are attractive to chiggers, and remove them.
- Fix any leaks in your yard, fix drainage issues, and remove empty pots that collect water.
- Trim brush back from your home and yard, and along any path you or your pets use to get back inside.
5. Choosing the Right Repellent for Outdoor Activities
Now that you’ve removed the chiggers from your home, and taken steps to make your yard less chigger-friendly, it’s time to choose a repellent to bolster your efforts. Pest-repellents are available for yard application, as well as personal repellents when you’re enjoying your yard or during outdoor activities. It’s important to choose the right product to keep chiggers away, so keep these tips in mind:
- Think safety first when choosing a repellent for outdoor activities, an all-natural chigger repellent can help you stop chiggers without heavy pesticides.
- Follow the application directions carefully — most errors are made by incorrect application of repellent products.
- Make sure your personal repellent specifically repels chiggers — not all repellents work on all pests.
- The best way to reduce chiggers in your home is with careful prevention before they get in. While a chigger infestation can be short-lived, taking the time to keep chiggers out of your home is your best defense.