What are Chigger Bugs?

Chigger Bugs, or more commonly called just Chiggers, or Red Bugs, are the larval stage of the Trombiculidae mite.  

What are Chigger Bugs?

Chigger Bugs are a real nuisance, as their “bites” cause inflamed pimple-like marks on your skin, that itch intensely.   If you’ve ever been bitten by Chiggers, you never want to be bitten again!

Again, Chigger Bugs are more commonly called just Chiggers.   During the larval stage, Trombiculidae mites need to feed to grow to adults.   During this phase, they are called Chiggers, and they will hide in tall grass, shrubs, mulch, and other outdoor areas.


Photo by: Hansell F. Cross, Georgia State University, Bugwood.org

Chiggers are commonly found in grassy and woodland areas and do not prefer direct sunlight.   They are incredibly small, about 1/150th of an inch, and very difficult to see with the naked eye.   If you see them, it’s often because there are multiples moving around quickly on your skin or clothing.

Chiggers wait in tall grass, or on shrubs for a host to come by, then jump on the host to begin feeding.  The feeding process is what causes the “bites” and the intense itching associated with the bites.

Chiggers have four different stages as they progress to become adults.  The larval stage is the only stage where they seek out people and animals as food source.

>> Learn more about Chiggers in our What are Chiggers Guide.

Chigger Bug Bites

For humans, this means Chigger Bugs generally jump onto your clothing, then immediately begin searching for the first open area of skin they can find.  

Chigger Bites on a young female

Once there, they will rip open the skin, and insert a tube-like appendage, and fill the soft area of the skin with an enzyme that dissolves it, and the Chigger will begin drinking.  

To be more clear, Chiggers feed on your skin.

Chiggers will feed for approximately 2-3 days, if allowed, then drop off.  Within 24 hours, the inflammation and itching begin.  The specific time varies, depending on how severe the person’s reaction is.

Bites are often in groups, and can literally be counted in the hundreds in a severe attack.    Bites are often located at transition areas where clothing stops and skin begins (this is evident in the photo above, where the majority of the chigger bites are above the waistline).  

Chigger bites commonly occur on:

  • Ankles
  • Wrists
  • Arms
  • Legs
  • Abdomen
  • Neck
  • and Groin (causing some of the most intense and uncomfortable itchings)

>> You can read more about Chigger Bug Bites in our Chigger Bites Guide.

How to Get Rid of Chigger Bugs?

Commercially available insecticide sprays are a very effective way to kill and get rid of Chiggers in your yard.  Specifically, the following products are very effective:

The most effective way to kill Chiggers in your yard, and to keep them out, is to engage a Professional Exterminator.  

Professionals will survey your yard, and provide and implement an ongoing treatment plan.  When contacting a professional exterminator, be sure they have current and prior experience treating Chiggers.

>> You can read more about how to kill and prevent Chiggers in our How to Kill Chiggers – 5 Easy Ways Guide.

How to Prevent Chigger Bug Bites?

Most people that have been bitten by Chiggers actively seek out, how to keep from being bitten by Chiggers again, and for good reason.  Chiggers bites hurt!

Chigger Bites Treatment

The most obvious answer for how to prevent Chigger Bug Bites is to avoid areas that have Chiggers.  The reality of that though, is that it’s very hard to do.  

To do this, you would really need to just not go outside.  No fun right?

Avoiding Chiggers is difficult, for the following reasons:

  • Chiggers are difficult to see
  • They don’t always hang out in the same places, especially year to year.

If you think you’ll be venturing into an area that may have chiggers, we recommend doing the following:

  • Cover your bare skin in an effective Chigger Repellent such as ChiggAway.
  • Wear boots, long pants (tuck them in your boots), and a long shirt that is tucked in.  Wearing Gaiters really helps.
  • Spray clothing repellent onto your clothing.  Sawyer makes excellent clothing Chigger repellent.

When you return home, do the following immediately:

  • Quickly remove ALL of your clothing, including undergarments, in the washroom, and place your clothing in the wash with soap, and turn it on.  The soap and water will kill the Chiggers on your clothing.
  • Take a hot shower and scrub and wash vigorously with soap.  Be sure to wash your entire body, as Chiggers can hide.
  • After showering, apply a Chigger bite treatment product, like Chiggerx Plus or ChiggAway, to minimize the reaction to any bites you may have received.

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