With so many insects out there ready to bite you it can be difficult to tell what kind of bug is biting you. Two insects that commonly bite humans are chiggers and fleas.
Though these chigger bites and flea bites may look very similar they do have their differences and patterns that make it easy for you to tell them apart.
What are Chiggers?
Chiggers, also known as berry bugs, are tiny red larva members of the arachnid family. They average about 1/60th of an inch in size and are incredibly hard to see.
If you want to see them I recommend using a magnifying glass. They are found all over the world so be wary!
Chiggers are commonly found in grassy areas or berry patches. If you want to avoid chiggers try to stay away from areas similar to this.
Their bites don't hurt at first due to a numbing agent in the saliva of chiggers. After some time though that bite will begin to swell up and blister leaving an irritating itching sensation.
Chiggers can stay attached to your skin for several days feeding on your blood. They usually stay attached for roughly 4 days before detaching. You generally won't feel the itching until they detach themselves.
Identifying Chigger Bites?
As small as they are, they pack a powerful bite that itches like crazy. Their bites look very similar to small pimples, welts, blisters, or hives.
Because chiggers can stay latched to your skin for so long there are often multiple bites in the same area. This is because chiggers switch places during the time they are latched which leads to multiple bites.
Chiggers prefer to bite in the folds of your skin. These bites usually occur around your waist, armpits, crotch, ankles, and behind your knees.
Let's summarize what chigger bites look like to help paint a better picture:
- Bites are close together and often widespread.
- Bites look like pimples, welts, blisters, or hives.
- They bite randomly in one area. If the bites are in a random cluster you likely have been bitten by chiggers.
- Bites are in large clusters of multiple bites.
What are Fleas?
Fleas are small reddish-brown insects that feed on the blood of a host to survive and lay eggs. They have a numbing agent in their saliva that keeps you from feeling their bites until its too late. After they have their blood meal they a female can lay up to 50 eggs in a day.
Fleas have very similar feeding habits to chiggers. One of the primary differences is that only adult fleas will feed on a blood host. Chiggers on the other hand only feed on blood during the larva stage of their life cycle.
Fleas can be tracked into your house causing a large infestation full of non-stop biting and itching. Sounds similar to chiggers, doesn't it? Let's delve into what flea bites look like.
Identifying Flea Bites?
Fleas can jump up to 7 inches vertically which is remarkably high considering their size. Though this is impressive it still doesn't get them very high on a humans body.
Fleas will usually bite around your ankles and feet because they can't get too far up your body. They also enjoy the humidity of socks so they love to hide and bury into your socks and shoes.
- Small red halos around the bites
- Bites around feet and ankles
- Small and clustered in groups of 3 or 4 they may also appear in a straight line
Flea Bites VS Chigger Bites
As similar as chigger and flea bites are there are some slight differences that can help you distinguish whats biting you, your family and your pets.
The most noticeable difference between chigger and flea bites is the small halo-like ring around flea bites. If you look closely and see it then you likely have flea bites. If you don't see the halo this doesn't mean that the bites are chigger bites.
Chigger bites are generally a lot smaller than flea bites. Chigger bites look almost like a pimple whereas flea bites look like a small welt similar to a mosquito bite.
Flea bites are usually in small clusters up to 3 or 4 bites at a time. Chigger bites, on the other hand, are in large groups from where fleas get bored and switch from one spot to another.
How to Reduce Itching
Treating Chigger and Flea bites are very similar to any other bug bites. You can use any of the following:
- Calamine Lotion
- Anti-Itch Creams
- Antihistamine Pills
- Aloe Vera
- A hot bath or shower can also be effective
With any bites its going to take time for them to completely heal. You have to avoid scratching at the bites no matter how badly they itch. Scratching can lead to infection and bleeding. The more you scratch the longer it will take for the bites to heal.
If the bites don't get better on their own after a few days or if you don't see any improvement we recommend going to see a doctor.
The quicker you heal the Chigger bites the better. The longer they go untreated the worse they will get. There are various treatments designed for chiggers that you can use.
- Chigger Defense - An anti-itch ointment targeted at chigger bites.
- ChiggAway - Both a Chigger repellent and Chigger treatment lotion.
The best way to treat chigger bites is to keep them from biting you all together. There are plenty of steps you can take before venturing into a chigger infested world.
- Wear long pants chiggers can't bite you if they cant get to your skin.
- Use a reliable insect repellent such as ChiggAway or Deep Woods Off.
- If you're going hiking stay on the trail. Chiggers like to hide in brush and berry bushes.
- If you see Chiggers on your body shower as quickly as you can or wash them off before they can bite you anymore.
- Wash your clothes after you go outside to prevent the chiggers from staying in your home and continuing to bite you.
For more information on chiggers check out the rest of our website.