Chigger - The garden mite
After a good nap in the grass at the end of summer, itchy red blisters appear in certain places on your body… You are probably the victim of chigger larvae bites, small external parasites that use you as a pantry. ! Discover in this file a set of answers and products that will allow you to best fight against this insect, which is more and more present each year during the summer period.
Scientific name : Trombicula autumnalis
Order : mites
Family : trombiculidae
Size adult : 2 mm
Location : garden, rather humid and shaded
Period : summer period
What you need to know about the chigger
Chiggers are part of arachnids and therefore mites (and not insects). They are also called according to the regions: trombidium, red mullet, puron, vendangeron, red spiders... This mite is cosmopolitan. They are found throughout Europe, Asia, America.
The chigger should not be confused with another mite, the silky trombidion, which is harmless to it.
The adult chigger has 4 pairs of legs (therefore 8 legs) while the larva has only 3 pairs (6 legs).
They lurk in the herbs and plants of our gardens during the summer and early fall, hoping that a mammal or a bird will pass in front of them in order to settle there to have a good meal. Like most mites, it does not feed on blood, but on tissue fluids and cells of the squamous layer previously liquefied and predigested by the enzymes that it has injected with its saliva.
Adults measure between 0.6 and 1 mm (up to 2 mm) and are yellowish-white. In the spring, females can lay up to 400 eggs in the ground. Chiggers eggs are able to re-enter, when weather conditions become severe (too cold) in a phase called diapause (resting phase). It reactivates as soon as the temperature rises. After a month, the young larvae come out in search of a host. They measure between 0.2 and 0.5 mm and are orange in color.
They bite vertebrates to feed on the lymph and tissues under their skin. For this, when the larvae manage to climb on their prey, they look for the ideal place to bite: an area of thin, moist and covered skin, such as the folds of the groin, the knees, the armpits, under the breasts or the testicles. Once positioned, chigger larvae use their chelicerae (mouthparts) and penetrate the skin. Once the hole is created, the larva will secrete saliva containing enzymes which will actually dissolve the tissues in contact. They will then be ingested with the blood and the lymph. This results in the appearance of an itchy red blister. A larva after engorgement (after a “meal”) can measure up to 1 mm (therefore visible to the naked eye).
It is their saliva that causes the itching (allergic reaction), as well as the immune reaction due to the hole left by the larva. At this stage, the chiggers are red and are also called "mullets". The larvae feed in this way for 2 to 3 days, then, once sated, fall back to the ground and burrow into the ground where they will turn into a pre-pupa (immobile), a nymph (mobile) and then an adult. The complete cycle of a chigger varies between 2 and 12 months and depends a lot on weather conditions.
Their main hosts are rabbits, hedgehogs, moles, rodents, cats and dogs, birds, reptiles (and yes, even cold-blooded animals!), etc. Humans are also affected by chigger bites. Nymphs and adult chiggers are blind. Unlike the larva, they feed on plant debris, small insects, small mites, fungi.
The chigger and the temperature
The sensory perception of heat is poorly developed in the chigger, which seems, according to laboratory tests, incapable of locating a hot tube or the body of a young live mouse. In contact with a heated object, it produces a response for a temperature difference of approximately 15°C. In a linear or concentric temperature gradient, it has low and high temperature avoidance zones which seem to indicate a temperature preferendum between 15°C and 26°C.
Chigger's favorite haunts
Chiggers are particularly fond of fields, tall grass, the edge of woods, shady and damp lawns, near water. They are found from March to October but more particularly when the temperatures are warm, from July to September. Periods of drought are very suitable for chiggers. Adult chiggers overwinter.
Chiggers in dogs and cats
Presence of chigger larvae on a dog's paw If your cat or dog is scratching, licking abnormally or biting intensely at the end of summer and in autumn, look for the presence on its skin of small orange clusters (fluo) . It is very likely that they are chigger larvae (It's the larvae, not the adults, that infest the dog's skin!).
Chiggers like the thin skin of our animals, between the toes of the legs, on the anal and vulval folds, on the inside of the thighs, on the testicles, on the ears, around the eyes and on the belly.
The intense itching can cause your friend to severely damage his skin and secondary wounds (erosions, scabs) can then appear.
Not all dogs have an allergic reaction to the enzymes injected by the chigger larvae, in which case some dogs bitten by chigger may only have a surface lesion.
Although there is no life-threatening risk in the event of a bite, many dogs develop significant inflammatory lesions due to the intensity of the itching.
In the summer examine your animals and see if there are tiny bright orange dots, signs of the presence of chiggers.
If they are, just spray the affected areas with an anti-flea and anti-tick spray that you can get at a pharmacy or from your veterinarian.
To avoid further contamination, you can treat your animal preventively with this spray during the risk period. Spray the product between the fingers, behind the ears, between the thighs and under the armpits. Sprays should always be done before a walk or a good meal so that your pet does not lick off the medicine, which cannot be ingested.
There is no contagion between dogs and humans. However, infestation by the larvae of Augustats can also occur in humans from the same sources, such as grass.
To sum up, how do you protect your pets from chiggers ?
1 - Treat the baskets or kennels of your pets with our 4J all-insect insecticide diluted to 5% (500ml spray for 5 m²).
3 - Check their coat regularly and carefully, especially after an outdoor walk to check that no chiggers are attached to them. Avoid sleeping with your pets.
N.B.: If your dog is infested with chigger, you should visit a vet, as treatment of the inflammation caused by the bite of the larvae must be carried out in conjunction with pest control.
What does a chigger sting look like ?
The medical term for the pathology that is given by this parasite is trombidiasis. This is an allergic reaction caused by the saliva of the larva. Unfortunately, not all of us react the same way to a chigger sting. Some people will barely react, while others will be violently itchy.
Bites of chigger larvae are usually not isolated: they are frequently aligned in a series of small pimples (papules) of 2 to 3 mm, surrounded by a lighter aureole of 1 mm, on the same part of the body. . It is also very common for several parts of the body to be affected at the same time.
Like all insect bites, the bites of chigger larvae can in some cases be complicated by the appearance of a local allergic reaction: instead of small pimples, large blistered lesions appear on the skin and the redness diffuse. The itching leaves no respite, edema may even occur. An allergy is never trivial and requires at least a visit to the pharmacist. However, if the allergy is widespread or seems severe, it is strongly advised to consult a doctor, especially if the person bitten is a young child.
As we have already mentioned, chigger larvae often bite where the skin is thinnest (folds of the skin: behind the knees, on the wrists, inside the arms, in the groin). They also attack the most exposed and easily accessible places: the feet, ankles and legs. All areas of the skin that are slightly compressed by a rubber band or tight clothing are sources of moist heat that are perfect for chigger larvae. Children, who sometimes tend to sweat from the head, are often pricked in the scalp. Contrary to what one might think, the moment when the larva clings to the skin of its host is painless. On the other hand, during the few days that chigger larvae stay on the skin of their human or animal host, they secrete a very irritating salivary liquid.
The itching is very intense after 20 to 30 hours and can persist for 7 days.
As we saw above, in connection with the fact that itching generally appears after the chigger larvae have emerged, it seems logical that the first itches should sometimes be felt during the night. Rubbing your body against the sheets makes it easier for the larvae to crawl out. But this doesn't necessarily mean that the bites have been inflicted by nocturnal parasites! If the itching occurs in summer and you've been lying on the grass for several hours beforehand (after ruling out mosquitoes), chances are you've been bitten by the chigger larvae, not bedbugs, which are present in or near the old wood.
How to relieve chigger bites ?
Itchy chigger bites There are effective anti-inflammatory or antihistamine creams. Alcoholic (camphor alcohol) or acidic lotions as well as solutions based on vegetable or mineral oils have a soothing action. Do not hesitate to ask your pharmacist.
Otherwise, home remedies die hard. For example, as soon as the first symptoms appear, it is advisable to take a very hot bath and soap yourself with Marseille soap. You can also soothe itching by applying a green clay poultice or a cabbage leaf to the affected areas. Ditto, a cotton soaked in a little vinegar will significantly reduce the itching associated with chigger bites.
Spike lavender essential oil will be a strong ally in relieving chigger itch. Just like a homeopathic treatment composed of granules of Rumex crispus (5 CH) or Apis mellifica (5 CH). Ask your pharmacist or your usual homeopath for advice.
Finally, our Rolls-On bites with essential oils are formulated to relieve insect bites. So remember to always have one on you during your summer outings.
Our recommendations : Be careful to limit scratching sessions! Because the more you scratch, the stronger the itching will become. So, in order not to contaminate the rest of the body, do not forget to clean your nails. You can also apply a freezer bag filled with ice cubes to the affected areas. The cold will have the double effect of calming the itching, but also of being fatal to the larvae if they are still present. The cold can burn the skin, surround the bag with a cloth or a towel.
And for your pet ? If your cat or dog is scratching because of chiggers, our soothing STOP scratch lotion based on natural plant extracts will soothe the itching for dog and cat skin hygiene.
Beware of chiggers in the grass There are several methods to protect yourself from chiggers. The most effective solution is to wear long, waterproof clothing that is well closed, particularly around the legs, to reduce access to the skin. Very nice to dress like in winter when it's hot!! If you walk in high-risk areas (tall grass, fields, edge of woods), at least remember to wear tight-fitting, covering clothing. This will already greatly limit their intrusion.
Avoid rolling around in the grass or taking a prolonged nap there. The chiggers will take advantage of these opportunities to climb on you. And if the nap call is essential, be sure to lie on a blanket, rather than on the floor.
You can also effectively protect yourself from chiggers with 3 of our products.
1 - One is to apply to your skin : Either our Anti-Insect Skin Lotion Spray or our Anti-Insect Roller. Composed of eucalyptus citriodora, these body lotions will keep most insects at bay for several hours.
2 - The other is to be applied to your textiles : our textile biting insect repellent. Composed of geraniol, this spray will deter insects from clinging to your clothes for long hours.
Finally, a little talc spread on your skin will also make a good barrier to chiggers. Beware, however, of the drying out of the skin that this causes.
Everything you need to enjoy a sunny walk or a family picnic without the hassle of chiggers.
How to disinfect chigger bites ?
If despite the preventive measures mentioned, you have still been stung by chiggers, you will need to follow a small disinfection protocol :
1 - Put the worn clothes in the washing machine at 60°C, because larvae may still be there. For textiles that do not machine wash at 60°C, you also have the freezer solution for 48 hours. And if not, go for Aries Neem Oil Dust Mite Spray. Place your textiles in a large trash bag. Spray the aerosol inside the bag and close it tightly to make it as airtight as possible. Reopen after 48 hours.
2 - Take a hot shower or bath
3 - Rub yourself with Marseille soap to kill the parasites present on your body
4 - Disinfect the bites using an antiseptic based on hexamidine or chlorhexidine applied using a sterile compress. Repeat the operation twice a day to avoid the risk of secondary infection linked to scratching, especially in children.
How to limit the presence of chiggers ?
Mow the lawn to limit chiggers To avoid, or at least limit as much as possible, the development of chiggers in your garden, you can take a number of measures :
1 - Mow your lawn regularly
2 - Water the garden abundantly – chiggers do not like excess water
3 - Plant repellent plant species, such as lemon balm, lemongrass or mint.
How to eliminate chiggers ?
During the period when chiggers are present, spraying with acaricidal products can be applied to the outdoor areas concerned. However, some precautions should be taken :
1 - Start treatment at the first symptoms or a little earlier if the dates of appearance are known.
2 - Only use acaricides with low toxicity, low persistence and which respect other animals as much as possible.
3 - Only treat the portions of lawn located in shaded and humid areas and do not lie down on the treated parts for 10 days following the treatment.
4 - Treat only in non-rainy weather, after having mowed the infested parts of the lawn very close.
There is also a natural acaricide that has proven itself against the fight against chiggers : sulphur. It occurs in two forms:
- A fine powder : Sulfur flower
- Granules to be diluted in water : wettable sulfur
Our 4J insecticide to be diluted at 5% will permanently eliminate chiggers from your grassy surfaces. It is applied by spraying. As this product contains pyrethrum (which degrades rapidly under the effect of UV rays and heat), it is important to apply it during the cooler hours of the day (preferably at the end of the day). Our concentrated 4J insecticide, once diluted in water at 5% will allow you to treat up to 200 m².
Finally, diatomaceous earth, this powder composed of silicon dioxide will be formidable against chiggers. It is a natural insecticide that kills insects and slugs by dehydration by damaging their skeletons by absorbing protective waxes. You will need to spread some on the surfaces concerned and especially not to mow behind (which you will understand, will remove the powder by distributing it in the air!). This earth acts by mechanical action. Once the chigger comes into contact with this diatomaceous earth, it will eventually die from the injuries inflicted after a few days. Keep in mind that the diatom loses its drying and dehydrating properties when it is wet. Dew and rain will therefore "deactivate" its effects. Once it becomes dry again, it will resume its effects. Conclusion: keep an eye on the weather!
But beware, it is always good to remember : any chemical treatment remains detrimental to other small animals, garden helpers, and above all, to other mites which are effective predators in gardens. The best thing is to leave more room for natural predators (insects, mites, etc.) by letting the garden live a little so that they can find shelter there (heaps of dead wood, weeds, fallow land, insect nesting boxes, etc.) .). They will also make it possible to accommodate other vertebrate hosts for chiggers.
The products you need against chiggers
Step 1 - I protect my pet from chiggers just before going out
If you plan to go for a walk with your dog, don't forget to protect him from chiggers. The products below will protect it from chiggers, ticks, fleas or mosquitoes. The sprays are to be applied directly to the hair of the animal. As for the product ALT'O ZINSECT gel, it will be ideal to protect all the most sensitive parts such as the pads, the contours of the anus or sex, as well as all the places where the skin is thin and likely to interest these sucking biting insects.
Step 2 - I protect myself from chiggers
You want to garden, walk, hike or simply have a good time outdoors, so don't forget to protect yourself from chiggers in the summer. We offer several effective and natural repellents that will prevent them from biting you. The anti-insect body lotion is applied to your skin and the biting insect repellent to your textiles. As for the roll-on summer lemongrass, it will be very practical to use and easy to carry on all your trips. It will keep ticks, mosquitoes and chiggers away.
Step 3 - I eliminate chiggers from my environment
To permanently get rid of chiggers in your environment, here are the natural products we offer. First, the 4J contact insecticide. Dilute this concentrated product at 5% with water in a garden-type sprayer (950ml of water + 50ml of pure insecticide), then spread it on grassy surfaces during the cooler hours of the day ( preferably at the end of the day). Take care to mow the lawn very short beforehand to increase your chances of contact between the product and the chigger. The Aries anti-mite spray will allow you to treat your textiles or any objects (shoes, belts, etc.) after an outing exposed to chiggers. Diatomaceous earth remains a very effective product to spread on your grassy surfaces.
What about your home ? As a preventive measure, the floor of your home should be vacuumed at least twice a week to eliminate a large proportion of the chigger larvae that could potentially be disseminated.
It is also advisable to air out mattresses and pillows every morning before making your bed. A dehumidifier can be installed if the home is particularly damp.
Treating an infested area is also a priority, as it reduces the likelihood of the dog being re-infected.
Frequently asked questions about chiggers and spider mites
Q: Is it possible to treat a specific area with your product. In what concentration do you recommend me to do it ? Will it be necessary to do it by "watering" or by spraying the supposed area ?
R: Yes, but to be really effective, it would be preferable that this area be perfectly mowed before (at least for the grass)? I think 2-3% will be enough. Watering would be more efficient, but a garden sprayer should do the trick.
Q: I'm looking for a pheromone-based trap for small spider mites, also called augustas. Does it exist ?
R: Although the red spider mite and the chigger are part of the mites and both live in the grass, there is no relationship between the 2. The red spider mite (tretranychidae family) is a parasite plants, while chigger larvae (trombidion mites) are tissue and blood suckers. Apart from that, I do not know of a trap, neither for one nor for the other !
Q: Which organic insecticide to use to treat mites (red spider mites) on a lemon tree? (ex: 4J insecticide at 1%)
R: Our products, for regulatory reasons, can only be used on houseplants (indoors and not outdoors) but in this case, you can indeed use our 4J insecticide diluted at 1.5% (ready to use).
Q: Do you have anything effective to fight against the Augustas or at least avoid getting bitten.
R: Products based on PMD (mosquito repellent) would be effective on sucking insects. Our Penntybio body lotion contains this substance.
Q: We are doing a TPE on dust mites and we would like to know which essential oils are effective against chiggers ?
R: On mites, you have essential oils such as lavender, lemongrass, mint or geranium, which have an action but mainly as a repellent.
Q: What do you recommend to fight against the proliferation of chiggers ? For the garden of course, but possibly to protect domestic animals, here dogs ? Could diatomaceous earth be effective ?
R: Every year, in very hot weather, it's the same thing. The chiggers are out and it is very difficult to escape them. For the exterior, you can treat with our 4J "small insects" insecticide concentrated at 1.5%. They are mostly found in shady, moist areas near water but you will only kill the larvae that are not buried in the ground. In terms of protection, I'm not sure that products intended for fleas and ticks are effective, diatomaceous earth is effective on all insects but its use in a garden is complicated. As soon as it gets wet its properties are no longer active.
Q: What product would you recommend for me to treat a houseplant infected with spider mites. Knowing that the ideal being to spray on the plant, isn't this harmful for it ?
R: 4 J 1.5% insecticide (small insects and mites), it is not harmful. However, the product contains soap, so if you can, a few days after treatment, shower your plant.
Q: I have an infestation of spider mites, or at least tiny (less than 1mm) little bugs that look like spider mites. They look black to me with red antennae and leave a dark green trail when crushed. The walls of my house are invaded by it (under the window sills, in the window frames, in the window rabbets, and all the way up the wall in the interstices of the plaster. I would like to know if diatomaceous earth would be effective to overcome it ??? I spent my day spraying a mixture of white vinegar + black soap + bicarbonate which seemed to eradicate them on the spot... in vain : new invasion after 10 minutes. diatomaceous earth is ineffective on mites, and if it's spider mites, then it's mites.Do you think your product can overcome this infestation ? If so how can I do to put it on all my plaster ??? Where do I start ? There's it everywhere !!! I don't even dare to open my windows anymore because I find it in the house ! How often do I put it on ? Thank you in advance for your reply, which I await impatiently.
R: Spider mites, chiggers. Considering the size and period, they are probably small insects of the mite family. Our 4J insecticide diluted to 1.5% is enough to get rid of it. It is a contact insecticide. That is to say that it will only be effective from the moment you touch them with it. This product exists either in its diluted form, ready to use, or in its concentrated form, and it is you who makes the mixture with water up to 1.5%. Like all insects, the ideal is to identify and treat outbreaks. But in practice, it remains complicated. In your case, I advise you to spray the product on the facade of your wall, insisting on the interstices of the plaster. You can also apply it to the edges and frames of your windows. The more surfaces you touch, the greater your chances of destroying as many as possible. Do the treatment during the coolest hours of the day (morning or evening) because the pyrethrum contained in the formula remains sensitive to the action of UV rays and heat. As for diatomaceous earth, if it is not very effective in outdoor use (due to the fact that it becomes inactive as soon as it gets wet), it can be a good way to fight against this type of insect. in the indoor environment. Diatomaceous earth can also be sprayed on vertical walls. For it to set properly, you will need to mix it with water in a sprayer (between 300 and 500g per liter of lukewarm water). Once projected on the walls, the water will evaporate and the diatom particles will remain attached. But once again, be careful, a heavy downpour could wipe out all the work !!