What Are Chiggers?
Chiggers are born red and nearly invisible to the naked eye with a length of less than 1/150th of an inch. Like ticks and spiders, chiggers are a member of the arachnid class. Unlike ticks and spiders, chiggers only have six legs. This is because chiggers are the larval state of the mite “Trombicula.” Once chiggers turn into adults, they are eight-legged, yellow in color and become vegetarians, no longer interested in human blood.
Where Are You Most Likely to Encounter Chiggers?
Chiggers thrive in tall grasses and weeds, but can be found in many outdoor environments. Chiggers are very active and run about almost constantly. The moment any new object is introduced to their area, chiggers are there to investigate. Therefore, if you are still for any length of time, you are susceptible to a chigger attack.
Once on your body, chiggers will look for a convenient place to gather and begin their meal. With small mouths and not a very good grip, chiggers crawl under socks, and under your waistband. Other areas include the backs of the knees and in armpits where they are not as likely to be brushed off.
How Do I Know When I’ve Been Bitten By Chiggers?
Chigger bites show up as little red, itchy bumps, often in patches. They are commonly found around the ankles, back of the knees, along the waistline and in the armpits. Even after you identify the bumps as chigger bites, chiggers are so small you may not see they are still feasting.
The interesting yet terrifying thing about chiggers is they don’t drink your blood like the other pests. Instead, they use a tube to inject saliva containing a digestive enzyme that breaks your tissue down into a liquid. Then, they use another tube to suck up the liquid for food.
Why Should I Be Concerned About Being Bitten By Chiggers?
Because chiggers chemically dissolve your tissue for food, it is easy to understand why our bodies fight back. The body reacts to fight the alien substance which causes the small bumps and a severe itch. This persistent itch is often described as being like mosquito bites but far more intense and can persist for days and even weeks.
How Can I Avoid Being Bitten By Chiggers?
If you will be in an area where chiggers thrive, clothes offer some defense. Tightly woven socks, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts will help keep them off your skin in the first place.
Chiggers often feed for three or four days at a time. If you become the unfortunate victim of chiggers, change and wash your clothes. Then, wipe your body down with a towel. Since chiggers don’t latch onto your skin with the same strength as ticks, this will be enough to remove most of them. Finally, take a hot, soapy bath to get rid of any stragglers. At that point, anti-itch creams will provide some relief.
Fortunately, there is another line of defense available. Vitamin B1 in The Bug Patch offers natural, full-body, all-day protection from chiggers.