Prevent Chiggers from Infesting Your Home and Garden

Chiggers, the larvae of a harvest mite, are parasites that feed off the skin of small rodents and people. Their bites are not poisonous, but they will leave you extremely itchy for a couple of weeks. If you live in an area where chiggers are common pests, follow these guidelines to prevent them from infesting your home and garden.

Chigger Fighting Kit:

  • Clothing: Cover your body completely with clothing before going out to fight these tiny beasts.
  • Repellent: Protect your skin with Citronella lotion and spray your clothes liberally with an insect repellent spray that contains deet.
  • Insecticide: Spray outdoors with an insecticide such as Cyflutrin or use an eco-friendly version near gardens or in the home.
  • Spray nozzle for spraying insecticide
  • Insecticidal Soap for edibles and house plants

Step 1-Getting Started

The larvae are active from spring to fall, so it's best to get started in the spring. Wear tight clothing because chiggers love crawling around dark areas. Tuck pant legs into your socks or boots. Cover your head with a hat and spray your body thoroughly.

Step 2-Destroy Chigger Habitats

Chiggers love shady, thickly vegetated, damp areas like berry patches, mulched areas, tall grass, and dense foliage. Mow your yard regularly and use a weed eater in hard-to-reach areas. Keep shrubs well-pruned to encourage air circulation. Remove dead piles of leaves and dense foliage that doesn't belong in your yard or garden. If chiggers have infested your house plants, douse them with an insecticidal soap that has been approved for edibles and house plants. Repeat weekly and keep plants far away from the house for at least a month. 

Step 3-Test for Infested Areas

Chiggers are very difficult to see, but you need to try to find out where they are gathering so you don't waste money on spraying your whole yard with insecticide. Besides using your flesh as bait--which isn't recommended, take out a piece of cardboard and hold it up vertically in the area you want to test because chiggers like to move toward higher ground. Wait a few minutes and you should be able to see tiny red mites crawling up the cardboard. Do this test throughout the yard to see where you need to spray.

Step 4-Spray Insecticide

There are many types of insecticide that you can order online or buy at a hardware store. Make sure that if you are using it indoors or near a garden that you are using an organic insecticide or one approved for indoor use. If it doesn't come with a spray nozzle, make sure you have a spray bottle you can use. For heavy duty use, you can buy large 100 gallon sprayers. Spray every couple months the first year, and once a year after that.

Step 5-Cleaning Up

Don't forget to take a hot shower immediately after using insecticides. Scrub especially fervently in the underarm, groin, and waistband areas.  Wash the clothes you wore applying the insecticide in hot water.