When you know or suspect you’ve got chiggers, you instantly get that ghoulish, “icy water down the middle of your back” feeling and experience an intense itching even if none of them have actually gotten on you yet.
What’s worse, chiggers, in the family Trombiculidae, are related to ticks. Both of them are arachnids that feed on mammals, especially people. They attach themselves to your skin because they need protein from you in order to survive.
But you didn’t come here to get creeped out. You came here to learn how to get rid of chiggers, and we can help. We can show you how to get rid of chiggers in the yard and the house.
This Pest Strategies guide will cover the following:
- What attracts chiggers?
- How to prevent chiggers in the first place
- All-Natural remedies to get rid of chiggers
- And our top product pick for getting rid of chiggers.
If you're short on time, you can click here to jump right to our top product pick for getting rid of chiggers.
What Attracts Chiggers in the First Place?
Where are the normal chigger habitats? It’s pretty wide-spread.
Chiggers live in tall grass, dense bushes, thickets of small trees, and brambles. They like it warm and slightly humid, so in the United States they’re all over the South and lower Midwest. During the summer, they can surface in other parts of the country as well.
In their larval stage, chiggers, also known as harvest mites are they’re so tiny, 1/150th of an inch, they’re nearly without a magnifying glass. Chigger larvae are responsible for chigger bites, not the adults as is normally the case with ticks and other mites.
The chigger larvae emerge from the eggs bout a week after they’re laid. They have six legs at that point and are the only parasitic form. Once they’ve finished feeding on a host, they drop off. Once they mature into nymphs and adults, they have eight legs.
Chigger bites aren’t like mosquito bites and they’re not feeding on your blood like mosquitoes or bed bugs either. Instead, they insert one of their mouth parts into the skin cells and digest the cells with their saliva. This process creates a narrow feeding tube called a stylostome.
Chiggers are somewhat opportunistic feeders, attaching themselves to any available host animal walking through their habitat. Like the spiders they’re related to, they can’t fly or jump. They have to crawl onto their host.
Because of their bright red color, they’re also known as red bugs. For more information about getting rid of chiggers, check out the video below.
3 Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Chiggers From Inside Your House
Before we look at what works, let's examine what doesn’t work. Home remedies, such as putting nail polish on a chigger bite, are the product of misinformation and urban legend. When you begin getting red bumps on your exposed skin, and you suspect chigger bites, the damage has already been done.
Scratching at the bug bites and blisters will probably kill the chiggers but it won’t stop the itching. At that point, focus on relief measures such as hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, or any over-the-counter antihistamine.
A hot shower or bath with soapy water will get rid of the chiggers and clean any debris out of the wound. This is important because chigger bites can also pass on secondary infections if they’re not properly sanitized. Pay special attention to nearby hair follicles.
Now, let’s look at the pest control methods you can use against a chigger infestation.
This bug spray uses Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE) as the active ingredient. It’s one of the few all-natural ingredients approved by the EPA for use as a repellent against biting bugs of all kinds. It will repel bugs for up to six hours before it has to be reapplied.
It’s meant to be sprayed on human skin and is safe for children over three years old. It comes in a shatter-proof pump spray bottle. For your face, spray it in your hands then rub it into your cheeks, forehead, and neck.
Diatomaceous earth is composed of the fossilized shells of diatoms, microscopic sea creatures. Diatomaceous earth (DE) is edible and often used to treat digestive problems, as well as being used for pest control.
It’s a fine powder that acts as a desiccant to dehydrate bugs that crawl across it. Chiggers are so small that any loss of moisture in their bodies is fatal to them. To use it, spread a fine layer of the powder around the cracks and crevices where chiggers might get into our house.
Spread it lightly around the windows and doors too.
The active ingredient in this all-natural bug spray is lemongrass essential oil. It has been tested for effectiveness against mosquitoes and flies. By extension, it also works against chiggers to a certain extent. However, it will need to be reapplied fairly often.
It is made in the United States and blended with vanilla, water, glycerin, castor oil, and Vitamin E It has an amazing scent. People love the scent but bugs don’t. This DEET-free repellent kit includes an extra 1-ounce travel kit size.
3 Additional Remedies to Get Rid of Chiggers From Inside Your House
This repellent uses a 20% concentration of Picaridin, a pesticide created as an alternative to DEET. Many people claim it works better than DEET. It is effective against chiggers for up to eight hours at a time.
It is free of any fragrance and can safely be used on clothes, fishing and camping equipment, watch faces, sunglasses, and many synthetic materials. It is made from a group of plants that are normally used to make black pepper.
The active ingredient here is DEET, the original repellent developed in 1946 by the United States Army. It has been used by hundreds of millions of people since then, giving it the longest, most successful track record of any insect repellent in the world.
It can safely be used on your clothes, fishing lines, watches, sunglasses, tents, shoes, and skin. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends not using it on infants under two months old, but admits in the same sentence the EPA hasn’t issued any age limits for its use.
Tempo is a professional pesticide used day in and day out by pest control technicians all across the United States. It comes in a concentrated form that has to be diluted with water (instructions on the label) before using it. It does have a slight odor.
You’ll need a 1-gallon pump-up sprayer to mix and spray it. Be aware though, using a professional pesticide obligates you to follow professional guidelines to use it. In the pesticide industry, the label is the law and you need to follow it exactly.
Once it’s properly mixed, spray the baseboards around the entire house, as well as the cracks and crevices around the windows and doors. After it dries, this professional-strength pesticide will keep killing bugs for up to 90 days.
3 Bonus Remedies to Get Rid of Chiggers From Outside Your Home
This is an all-natural pesticide based on cedarwood essential oils. 16 ounces of concentrate will make two gallons of the finished product, which will cover 8,000 square feet of your yard.
You’ll need to spray it from a 1-gallon pump-up sprayer. Start at the foundation of the house then circle the house is a gradually widening spiral until you’ve covered the entire yard, front, back, and both sides. Don’t skip the driveway, sidewalks, porches, or flowerbeds.
Be sure to spray around and under the garbage cans. Spray the sides of the garbage cans too. Essential oil-based repellents can be an effective means of pest control if you use them properly.
The only limitation is that essential oils can easily be washed away by the first hard rain. You’ll have to respray each time it rains.
Delta Dust is another professional pesticide, this time a fine dry dust like talcum powder or baby powder. It requires the use of a bulb duster. The active ingredient is Deltamethrin, a synthetic chemical insecticide. It doesn’t dissolve in water and last for up to nine months.
Shake up the duster, place the tip of the wand/tube at a crack or crevice and give the bulb a sharp squeeze. It will jet a fine cloud of dust into the crack where it will cover everything. Any bug crawling through the crack will come in contact with it and die.
The powder tends to clump sometimes so it’s helpful to put a nickel or small marble inside the duster to break up the clumps each time you shake it. Delta Dust will kill all sorts of insects, spiders, and bugs.
These Bifenthrin-based granules are a professional pesticide that is water activated. You’ll need to use a hand-powered spreader to spread the granules around the yard. Spread the granules in gradually increasing spiral around the house until you’ve covered the entire yard.
If the weather forecast doesn’t predict rain for the week after you spread the granules, lightly water the lawn to active them. 5-10 minutes should be enough for each section until you’ve watered the entire yard. The granules will last for 90 days.
Best Product for Getting Rid of Chiggers
We know many people are scared of chemicals, but DEET has an unblemished track record of success for over 70 years. It has proven to be safe and effective. The stronger the concentration of DEET, the longer it lasts but the killing power is the same.
It’s easy to apply, it lasts for hours at a time, resists sweat, isn’t sticky or messy, and can safely be used for infants and children of all ages. It won’t stain your clothes or equipment either. This is far and away our number one recommendation.
How to Prevent Chiggers in the First Place?
When you’re going through a busy area with long, tall grass and brambles, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Spray your shoes, pants (including your waistband), sleeves, and socks.
Don’t sit on the ground for extended periods of time when you know there are large chigger populations in the area.
If an infestation occurs in your yard, mow the grass as short as you can. Chiggers prefer damp, moist ground but fresh air and sunshine will dry it out.
Wrapping It All Up
Chiggers are nasty little critters but you can handle them without the expense of calling a pest control company if you follow our recommendations. Get ahead of the curve by preemptively treating your yard early in the summer before they establish a foothold.
Wear a repellent whenever you enter areas where chiggers are likely to be a problem. An ounce of prevention goes a long way and you and your family will have a much better, bug-free time outdoors and at home.
Other Chigger & Tick Guides
Curious about other Chigger and Tick related articles? Check out our other detailed guides to help you deal with your pest problems.