The almost-microscopic chigger may cause more irritation than any other critter, ounce for ounce. Yet contrary to popular belief, chiggers don’t suck blood or burrow under the skin. They eat skin cells, which they dissolve with digestive enzymes. The human immune system defends bitten areas by forming a hard wall of cells, called a stylostome. Conveniently for the chigger, these stylostomes double as straw-like feeding tubes. And there’s the rub — and the scratch — it’s your own immune system’s response that causes the intense itching.
Chiggers are not true insects — they actually are immature mites — though they do get around on six legs in their troublesome larval stage. Like their parasitic tick cousins, chigger larvae attach themselves to hosts to feed by inserting minute mouthparts into skin, usually at hair follicles. Chiggers are found worldwide. In the United States, they are most common in the Southeast and Midwest because they thrive in humid weather amid thick vegetation but certainly exist in any tall grass or weeds. I have proof!
MOMMA LYNN’S HOME PREVENTATIVE: I heard it not only repels chiggers but ticks as well. Take a man sized sock, an old thin tube sock works best because it is longer to allow for a knot to be tied plus it allows the powder to exit the sock better. Fill it with ½ baby powder and ½ Sulfur powder. It’s best to mix it in a zip lock bag prior to putting in the sock. Tie a knot in the sock once it has been filled.. Keep it in a zip lock bag and apply outside only as it is messy around ankles, on shoes, and pants legs. If in real tall grass apply to waste, under arms, bra areas. Anywhere your clothing is tight. Do not wear tight fitting clothes as you would be in real big trouble!!! Also, put your perfume away for outdoor activities as it attracts them. I learned the hard way! I went to camp, walked 10 feet, sat down at a picnic table for about 45 minutes, walked 10 feet back to my vehicle and drove home. The next day I had over 150 chigger bites! Save the your perfume for indoor activities in the chigger season.
Chigger Remedy: If you do get bit by chiggers, DO NOT SCRATCH THEM! This is the absolute worse thing you could possibly do as it intensifies the itch to where it is almost unbearable! I put clear fingernail polish on the chigger bites as this suffocates them and they die. You can also buy CHIGGER RID at most grocery stores, and pharmacy’s. It is like clear fingernail polish with an analgesic. It does help it feel better.
Have a nice chigger-free Summer!