How to Prevent Chigger Bites

Three Methods:Preventing Chigger BitesTreating Chigger BitesDetecting and Eradicating Chiggers from Your Property

In the spring and summer, fields and dark, damp locations become infested with tiny red chigger larvae. In order to become adult mites, the chiggers must first feed on humans or animals. Chigger bites produce extremely itchy red welts. You can prevent chiggers from biting you by avoiding potential chigger hotspots, wearing long, loose clothing, and applying natural or chemical repellents. Maintaining a well manicured yard and treating your property with insecticides will reduce your risk of coming into contact with chiggers. If you get bit by a chigger, apply anti-itching creams and cold compresses to prevent yourself from scratching the welts.

Method 1
Preventing Chigger Bites

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    Avoid areas where chiggers reside. The easiest way to prevent chigger bites, is to avoid the areas where chiggers are likely to reside. Chigger larvae are common in areas with tall grasses and weeds, these include roadside ditches, pastures, woodlots, and meadows. Chiggers also inhabit moist low-lying areas.[1] If you cannot avoid these areas, take the proper precautions and do not sit down on the ground.[2]
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    Dress appropriately. Chiggers tend to bite humans in tender, soft, and moist areas, such as the groin, back of the knee, and and armpits. Wearing the correct clothing can prevent chigger larvae from arriving at these areas. When you venture into an area that is likely infested with chiggers, wear a long sleeved shirt and a pair of pants. Tuck your pants into your socks and boots.[3]
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    Apply sulfur powder or vinegar to your socks and shoes. Chiggers are driven away by potent smells. If you can handle the smell of sulfur or vinegar, consider apply these natural chigger repellents to your clothing and shoes.[4]
    • Sprinkle your clothing and shoes with sulfur powder.[5]
    • Pour 1 tablespoon of sulfur powder into a sealable plastic bag. Place your socks in the bag, seal, and shake. Once the sulfur powder has coated your socks, remove them from the bag and put them on your feet.[6]
    • Pour vinegar into a spray bottle and spray your feet, legs, and midsection.[7]
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    Apply insect repellent. Insect repellents effectively keep chiggers at bay. Spray the repellent around the openings of your clothing or shoes, such as near your shirt collar and around the tops of your shoes. Reapply as needed and recommended.
    • Before using DEET, permethrin, or less potent repellents, always read the product instructions and warnings.[8]
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    Check your body for chiggers and take a shower. When you have spent time in an area that may be infested with chiggers, you can prevent bites by thoroughly checking your body for the mites. After undressing, check the soft, tender areas of your body for chiggers that have attached to your skin and scan your body for fast-moving red dots. If you find chiggers on yourself, take a hot shower immediately. Scrub your skin thoroughly with soap to dislodge and wash away the chiggers.[9]
    • If you find chiggers or discover chigger bites on yourself, wash the clothing you were wearing and any blankets you used in hot water.[10]

Method 2
Treating Chigger Bites

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    Avoid scratching. Within 3 to 6 hours of a chigger biting you, the signs and symptoms will appear. The symptoms include red welts, itching, swelling, and fever. While the symptoms usually go away within 1 week, scratching the welts will prolong the length of time you will experience these symptoms. Avoid scratching the welts to ensure a quick recovery.
    • If you break the skin, your risk of contracting a secondary infection increases.
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    Treat the itch with an over the counter anti-itch cream or antihistamine pill. Chigger bites are extremely itchy. To combat your desire to scratch, apply an over the counter anti-itch cream, such as menthol or calamine lotion. Antihistamine pills can also provide temporary itch relief.
    • When you apply anti-itch cream or take an antihistamine pill, always follow the product instructions.[11]
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    Apply a cold compress to bites. When applied directly to bites, cold compresses can provide temporary relief from itching. Wrap ice in a thin towel. Hold the compress against the affected area for 10 minutes at a time. Space out the use of the compress to prevent skin damage.[12]
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    See a doctor if symptoms persist or worsen. Chigger bites typically do not require any medical attention.[13] However, if your symptoms linger or worsen, call a doctor immediately. Contact a medical professional if you experience:
    • Shortness of breath
    • Fever
    • Dizziness, weakness, or fainting
    • Headache, chills, joint aches, and or vomiting
    • A new rash
    • Drainage from the bites or signs of infection[14]

Method 3
Detecting and Eradicating Chiggers from Your Property

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    Identify chigger hotspots. When the temperature rises above 60℉, female chiggers lay their eggs in clusters. Newly hatched chiggers do not stray far from each other, but remain congregated in damp, dark areas, such as high grass, brush piles, and shady areas. As a result, large numbers of chigger larvae may be present in one area, but not another. Instead of treating your entire property for chiggers, you may wish to spot treat. There are two methods of identifying chigger hot spots on your property:
    • Place pieces of black cardboard vertically in your yard. If mites are present in the area, they will climb to the top of the cardboard. Examine the cardboard for chigger larvae with a magnifying glass.
    • Retrieve a white sheet and a piece of dry ice. Spread out the sheet and set the dry ice in the center. The carbon dioxide from the dry ice will attract any nearby mites. Examine the dry ice for chigger larvae with a magnifying glass.
    • When you closely examine the cardboard or dry ice, your risk of getting chigger bites will increase. Also, these methods will attract all nearby mites, not just chiggers.[15]
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    Maintain a well manicured yard. In order to eliminate chiggers from your outdoor environment, you must eliminate their prefered habitats: dark, damp locations that offer them protection from the elements.
    • Mow your yard frequently to keep your grass short and free of weeds—chigger larvae hide in tall grassy areas.[16]
    • Prune your trees and bushes to reduce shade cover in your yard—chigger larvae cannot survive in direct sunlight.[17]
    • Remove briars, wood piles, and brush piles from your property.[18]
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    Treat your yard with insecticides. To reduce or eliminate the chigger population on your property, treat your yard with insecticides. You may either use natural or chemical products:
    • Diatomaceous earth, the fossilized remains of diatoms, is a natural chigger repellant.[19] Spread bits and pieces of this sedimentary rock around your yard to ward off chiggers naturally.[20]
    • Treat your yard with carbaryl, an insecticide spray approved for use by non-licensed pest-controllers.
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    Call a pest controller. When natural or commercial-grade insecticides fail to eliminate your chigger infestation, call a certified pest controller. Licensed pest controllers can use stronger chemicals, such as propoxur or cyfluthrin, to treat your lawn, trees, and shrubbery. If your chigger problem persists, request a second treatment within two to three weeks of the first application of insecticide.


  • Bathe or shower as soon as you get home.
  • Check your pets for chiggers.


  • Never leave contaminated clothing laying around.

Article Info

Categories: Animal and Insect Safety | Stings Bites and Burns