Chiggers are pests in the mite family which are prevalent throughout the southern part of the United States. They are red, tiny like a spider or clover mite, and smear red when crushed. Chiggers are different from both spider and clover mites in that they like to feed on flesh. They will readily bite dogs, cats, livestock, birds, people or just about any animal they can find. Chiggers live on the ground, around shrubs and plants and basically anywhere vegetation is able to protect them from direct sun.
Chiggers definitely prefer the shade and moist areas but can forage great distances if need be. Unlike most small mites, chiggers are able to move quickly. They are able to sense movement from afar and will not hesitate to go after it. For this reason pets can get chiggers simply walking throughout the yard; people can get them playing golf, working in the garden or during a picnic.
CHIGGER BIOLOGY ^
Chiggers spend the winter lodged in the soil a few inches deep. When spring arrives, adults emerge to lay eggs in the same areas where they hibernate. Eggs will hatch in a short while every spring to release the larval stage. This is the stage which feeds on mammals. Chigger larvae requires flesh and will feed on just about any mammal available it can find. This larval stage is a bit smaller compared to adults and hard to notice.
HOW TO SOOTH CHIGGER BITES ^
Once a target is found, the young chigger will attack. First, it will crawl over shoes, socks and pants attempting to find meat.
Chiggers are small enough to fit through the mesh of most any fabric. This enables them to penetrate socks or pants quickly. Once on the skin, they will try to locate a place where they feel secure. This is usually just under the sock, around the waist band of underwear or anywhere clothing is tight. At this point, they will either puncture the skin or use hair follicles to get food.
Chiggers have a special fluid which liquefies flesh enabling the chigger to “suck” it’s meal. During this time, you would expect to feel an itch where they’re active. Their digestive fluids usually irritate our skin and creates a red blotch. In a day or two, this area may develop a blister.
The best product to use on a new bite is CHIGGER BITE SWABS. This ointment will take the “itch” away and promote healing.
For for old bites slow to heal, GENES SOOTHING CREAM can help. It uses all natural ingredients and can be applied daily for immediate relief.
CHIGGER REPELLENTS ^
Since chiggers will readily climb over clothing to get to your flesh, use PERMETHRIN AEROSOL on shoes and pants. Permethrin is odorless, easy to mix and works well at keeping many pests off you when afield.Spray clothing in the morning just prior to going afield. Treatments will last 6-8 hours so taking the can with you might be needed.
If you plan on treating your cloething a lot, get PERMETHRIN CONCENTRATE. Mix some up in a small spray bottle for spraying while afield or use it as a “pre soak”. Be sure to use it on shoes and pants to keep them off and apply as needed. Though the aerosol is easy to use, the concentrate will prove to be more cost effective.
As a pre-soak, add 2 oz per gallon of water and rinse pants, shirts, shorts and hats thoroughly for a minute. Allow the garments to hang dry for best results. And bringing some afield in a spray bottle will allow you to renew the treatments as needed though treatments will last 8-12 hours under normal conditions.
For the skin, DEET is still the best overall active. Our 100% formulation is as strong as it gets and just one application in the morning will last all day.
We also have deet in a less concentrated 20% LOTION. This form will “hold” to your skin longer so overall will perform almost as well as the 100% form.
CHIGGER LIFE CYCLE ^
Once chiggers feed, larva will drop off the host and go through a period of development where they become adults. This cycle will occur from early spring all summer long. During this time chigger nymphs will be busy feeding and adults feeding on plants waiting for the mating season. The mating season will start in the fall when they will get active looking for a mate, laying eggs and preparing for the soon to arrive winter.
During this time, mature adults will seek organic matter on which to nest. Beds of chiggers will form as fall turns to winter. For this reason hunters seem to experience a surge in bites when they go afield chasing game in the autumn. Just before the first freezes of winter, adults will dig into the ground and stay protected from freezing temperatures, rain and sow.
In the spring, the cycle will start anew. In some regions, warm temperatures and high humidity allow the chigger to complete several cycles a year. This creates multiple “feeding seasons” during the year. Depending on the weather and local temperatures, it may feel as though they’re active all the time. Other seasons may prove to have little chigger activity giving the impression they’ve disappeared. Rest assured they will be back!
BEST CHIGGER LAWN SPRAY ^
Chigger control starts with identifying where they are nesting or where they are coming from to enter your property. Nests are typically around the home in pine straw, wood chips, mulch areas, grass, over grown wild areas, briar patches, or anywhere ground cover is thick, shade abundant and moisture available. English ivy, poison ivy and junipers will all provide great protection for nesting chiggers but so too can the thatch from freshly cut grass. Since these locations may be all over the property, chigger control is best done by treating everything. The good news is positive results may be achieved when using the right product.
So for an active chigger infestation, BIFEN XTS is super effective. It contains a new active so chiggers have not had a chance to develop resistance. And a little bit goes a long way. You only need to use 2 oz per 10,000 sq/ft; 8 oz per acre. Treat every 2 weeks when chiggers are active and expect to do 3 treatments over the course of the first month to knock out an active problem.
Though you can use a standard PUMP SPRAYER to do the application, this will generally not use enough water unless your yard is very small (like 1,000 sq/ft or less). But a good HOSE END SPRAYER will use enough water to distribute the active, cover all plant surfaces and do so efficiently using the strength and power of your garden hose.
When using our sprayer, you’ll want to add 1 oz of chemical to the sprayer and then fill it with water to the 5 gallon line. Next, hook it to your hose and distribute the entire amount over 5,000 sq/ft.
For large lots of 1/2 acre or more, consider using a misting machine. These are devices which will convert the liquid to a “mist”. By applying a mist, you’ll use a lot less chemical and more importantly, you won’t miss any of the key areas chiggers might be hiding.
A good machine for this task is the FM6309. This machine holds 1 gallon of water and if you add 1 oz of Bifen XTS to the tank, you’ll have enough material to spray 10,000 sq/ft. Using a hose end, you’d need 2 oz of chemical and 10 gallons of water so as you can see, the mist blower will use 50% less chemical and a lot less water.
But what’s most impressive about the fogging machine is that it will give you greater coverage with less work. The fog will spray out 30+ feet and will effectively “blanket” all the vegetation you spray. This is super important when treating for chiggers. By fogging, you won’t miss any part of the plants they could use to roost or nest.
The FM6309 holds just one gallon of water and its powered by electricity so you won’t need to do much work when using it around the home. Just add water, some Bifen XTS, plug it in and start treating. Now you will still want to make treatments every 2 weeks for the first month to knock out active problems but once they’re gone, treating every 30-60 days should keep them from coming back.
Large property owners should consider using a BACKPACK MIST BLOWER. Using this fogger will save even more time and chemical. Typically you can treat a whole acre with just 2-3 oz of the Bifen and you’ll be able to do so in just 5-7 minutes. This unit is gas powered and will project the mist 50+ feet. It has a 3 gallon tank and you’ll be completely independent of all hoses and cords using it so you can most anywhere. This makes the Backpack Mist Blower a useful tool for any large property owner wanting to treat an acre or more.
BEST INSIDE SPRAY FOR CHIGGERS ^
If chiggers are active inside your home, use DEFENSE SC in a good PUMP SRAYER to treat baseboards, carpeting, crawlspaces and other areas they might target. Typically when they get inside, they’ll be focused in one room or one area. If the original population was immediately adjacent to the home, outside turf treatments should be made first. This will ensure more don’t come inside.
Once inside they can be problematic. Defense will kill them quickly but like Bifen, you’ll need to use it once every two weeks for the first month to ensure you kill all activity.
Add .75 oz of Defense to a gallon of water and use the mixture over no more than 1,000 sq/ft of surface area. Defense is odorless and safe enough to be sprayed on carpeting, couches and even mattresses where chiggers might be nesting.
Use a good PUMP SPRAYER to apply the Defense. Set the nozzle on a full “swath” setting when spraying carpets to ensure it covers a wide 3-4 foot band.
For “sensitive” areas or if you have the need to spot treat during the day, MICRO ENCAPSULATED MICROCARE is a low odor aerosol well suited for where you can’t liquid spray with Defense. It has a long injection tube straw too making it a good option for hard to treat molding joints and other cracks or crevices where chiggers like to hide.
One can of Microcare will be enough to spray 4-6 rooms so coverage is extensive. Use it to spot treat as needed in between liquid applications when an “outbreak” occurs. After spraying, let the treatment dry for 1 hour before letting people walk or sit on treated surfaces but once dry, there will be no hazard present to people or pets.
Chiggers are a flesh feeding pest which can ruin picnics, back yard get togethers or gardening activities. But with the right applications done around the property, you can eliminate all activity and keep them from coming back throughout the summer and fall.
CONTACT US ^
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