What do Chiggers Look Like?

Chigger

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

You’ve seen plenty of insects in the world and all of them look different. It can be difficult keeping track of which insects are biting you and which are not. Chiggers are found all over the world and love to feed on humans.

If you’re here you’ve likely heard of chiggers before but aren’t sure what they are and what they look like. I’m here to help you figure that out.

What do Chiggers look like?

Chiggers are easy to identify. Because they are easily found you could go out and find plenty of the in the wilderness once you feel comfortable identifying them.

Chigger Picture

Photo By: Susan Ellis, Bugwood.org

Chiggers are nearly invisible to the human eye. They are roughly 1/150th of an inch in size. Though you can see them without a magnifying class you should probably use one if you want to really see what they look like. Chiggers are tiny and red in color making them vibrant against a whatever they’re walking on.

Chiggers are just the juvenile form of mites. Adult mites have 8 legs where as the juvenile form of mites (Chiggers) only have 6 legs.

The important thing to know is that chiggers usually hide in berry bushes, thick grass or brush. They are small and red and nearly impossible to see. If you’re out hiking try to stay on the trails if you don’t want to get bit. If you want to play it safe try using chigg-away.

What are Chiggers?

Adult Chigger Mite

Also known as berry bugs chiggers are the small larva form of the adult arachnid known as mites. Though

the adults don’t drink blood the larva do. They are hungry for blood and eager to bite anyone willing to wander to close to the brush they’re hiding in.

Chiggers are members of the class Arachnida. Their scientific name name is Trombiculidae but they are more commonly known as chiggers and berry bugs.

They’re usually found hiding in berry bushes, thick brush, and grass. They aren’t very strong so they prefer to bite you on weaker parts of your skin such as any folds or wrinkles.

Chiggers tend to get bored when feeding so they change spots quit frequently. This is why when you find bites they are generally clustered together in a concentrated area.

When they bite a host they inject their host tissue with an enzyme that destroys and hardens the host skin.

You won’t be able to feel the bite at first because chiggers have a numbing agent in their saliva very similar to what fleas, mosquitoes, and bed bugs have.

The hardening of the host skin provides a feeding tube called a Stylostome. The Stylostome acts like a straw and allows chiggers to suck their host blood without drawing too much attention until irritation begins.

Other parasites and what they look like:

There are a lot of parasites out there and its easy to confuse them. I want to list some of they more common pest to help you have a better understanding of what each parasite looks like.

Fleas

Fleas are small and about 2.5 mm in size. They are dark in color usually a red or brown. When looking at fleas from a distance they look like small black dots.

What makes fleas unique from other parasites on this list are their 6 incredibly strong legs giving them the ability to jump up to 7 inches vertically and 13 inches horizontally.

Fleas usually bite you around your ankles and feet because they can only propel themselves so high and so far. They also enjoy hiding in warm, moist areas like your socks.

Ticks

This is a potentially dangerous form of parasite. Ticks are flat and tend to be a grayish white color, reddish brown, or yellow in color. They have eight legs and they more they feed the bigger they get. When at their biggest they become a milky white color.

Ticks aren’t able to fly, jump, or drop. They climb up your body from the ground and bite into you so they can feed. Most tick bites are caused by female ticks because males usually die after mating. Ticks feed during all stages of their life but adult ticks require blood meals to live.

Ticks can transmit harmful diseases such as Lyme disease. This is why careful tick extraction is crucial. When ticks bite they bury their heads into their host body and continue to feed until they are extracted or become full.

Bed Bugs

A very infestation are bed bugs and they can cause a real mess if they get into your home. Bed bugs measure from 4mm to 5mm and are red brown in color. From a distance they look similar to ticks.

Unlike ticks though bedbugs infest your home and when they bite they don’t bury their heads into a host body and continue to feed. Instead they bite multiple times in a straight line.

Millions of years ago bed bugs infested nest of bird and other animals but have since evolved. They now live in the homes of humans. They can sometimes live in large groups and feed one one host while they sleep.