Chiggers Attack! – Peru, IN

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Adult Chigger

I’d never heard of chiggers until we arrived in Indiana.  It’s not that they’re only found in Indiana, but that’s where they found me and had their feeding frenzy.  I didn’t realize what hit me until the discomfort began.  These nasty tiny mites with big bites left me scratching, seemingly without end, for several days.

Adult Chigger

Adult Chigger roaming around my laptop cover.  I terminated this one right after the picture was taken

Being out in the great outdoors most of the time, we are constantly exposed to unsavory critters.  We try to heed warnings and pay attention to information about local plant and animal hazards while hiking in unfamiliar places.  But nothing prepared me for the discomfort I would feel a few hours after this hike, when I noticed a cluster of bites on my mid-section, and the itching and scratching began.

Catching up a Chiggers

Maybe a bunch of chiggers “hopped aboard” as I sat down here to have my picture taken?

Flower patch

Another area where I might have picked up those chiggers

 So, what are chiggers?

  • Chiggers are not insects – they belong to the arachnids and are part of the same family as spiders, scorpions, and ticks.

    Adult Chigger

    This adult chigger had eight legs, and I let it live just long enough for me to take the picture

  • They don’t burrow into the skin like ticks; instead they inject digestive enzymes that break down the skin, allowing them to slurp up the dissolved skin cells.  For a detailed explanation, check out http://animals.howstuffworks.com/arachnids/chigger.htm
Chigger at work

A chigger feeding. Image credit to Wilson, Tracy V. HowStuffWorks.com. 25 July 2014.

  • It’s the baby chiggers (larvae) that feed on the tissue of mammals (me) for nourishment.  These images are of adult chiggers, but of course I killed them anyway.

    Adult Chigger

    Adult Chigger – very tiny!  But the larvae are almost microscopic in size

  • Chiggers go for the thinnest skin on our bodies, and the bites tend to cluster in places that are delicate and sensitive.  In my case, they had their party around my waist area and other unmentionable parts.
  • Once they’re done feeding, they drop to the ground and molt into nymphs – while the unfortunate human is left miserable for several days.  In short, they “eat and run”.

How to  keep them off

If you’re in a place where chiggers could be your neighbors, here are some precautions I learned for avoiding my misery in the future:

  • Long pants and long sleeves are a must, with the pants tucked into the socks for extra protection.
  • Stay on the trail and out of tall weeds and patches of brambles – hard for me because sometimes that’s where the best pictures can be taken!
  • Shower promptly and scrub thoroughly immediately when we get home.
  • Wash hiking clothes with hot water to kill any chiggers that might be living there.
  • Have calamine lotion, antihistamines or hydrocortisone ready in case of future attacks.

My “chigger attack” occurred on July 18th.  Eight days later, I no longer get up at midnight to apply Cortizone 10, but I’m still itching and scratching.  Time is the only remedy for my discomfort.  Although Steve cringes every time I show him the affected area, he is blissfully oblivious of my suffering, as most men have tougher skin and are rarely affected by these little devils.  As they say, “women and children first”!

And that, my dear readers, is your “chigger education” for today.  We must continue to enjoy the great outdoors, and avoid the chiggers whenever we can!



 

68 thoughts on “Chiggers Attack! – Peru, IN

  1. I am very sorry to hear of your chigger encounter…. They found me when I was hiking through long grass a good five years back. The itch was unbearable and lasted well over a week.

    I love your photos and your disposition of the little buggers. I do wear long pants and sleeves and tuck in as much as I can in unmowed fields!

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  2. I had to smile at your “women and children first.” 🙂 I loathe all biting and stinging critters, and any hint of them being in my vicinity is enough to make me run away. So sorry for your extreme discomfort, Mona. Hope it soon goes away.

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  3. Ouch! Not fun to be food. I hope the itching has stopped. I always get bit by mosquitoes and my husband does not get bit. Thanks for the info about chiggers.

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    • Oh yes Marcy, I still itch a little bit now and then currently. Maybe they are not in CA

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  4. Thank you for the chigger lesson, Mona. Those er rashes look nasty. 🙂 The chiggers look cool being red, though. And I like their name. 😀 Stay safe and happy travels!

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  5. Been there done that. Boondocked in Daniel Boone Conservation area in MO. Weeds and underbrush 5′ high, things got bloody. They were not too discriminating on the gender thing… Worst two weeks following that walk in the woods ever…

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    • Oh, so the Chiggers there were undiscriminating there, for here Steve and I were on the same path and nothing bit him.

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  6. Paul said he got bit by those creatures on Saturday. His bites look exactly like yours. How a little thing can cause so much misery is a mystery. Glad you are sleeping better.

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  7. I haven’t thought about chiggers since my childhood in Illinois. As kids we always seemed to have them in summer, since we were always rolling around in the grass. Between these and poison ivy, I quite often was covered in calamine lotion. So sorry to hear about your experience MonaLiza.

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    • I was really oblivious of their prescence before and now I am quite careful of where I trudge in.

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      • This is one of the many reasons I escaped the midwest as soon as I graduated…too many nasty bugs coupled with humidity and cold winters. 😉

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  8. Oh my goodness Mona Lisa. I’m scratching now! It’s good that you published this. Let all chiggers be warned. You are the terminator!

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  9. Well there you go…sitting in that sweet field! Didn’t realize chiggers so big! I’ll be on the lookout! Hope you got to check out Niles and Lake Michigan!

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    • I know that is my lesson now,not to sit on those grass! Your corn/bean dip was delicious thank you for sharing it. I thought I saw you this afternoon but was I was engaged in dinner prep.

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  10. MonaLiza, I think I got into some chiggers too. Talk about itchy!! I’m using a product called SSssting Stop with Citronella gel. It helps some.

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    • Thank you Susan, I will give SSssting Stop with Citronella gel a try, or anything to stop the itch 😦

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  11. I’m not clicking the “like” button here, ML. SO sorry to hear of your malaise! Those damn arachnids! I’m starting to feel itchy just thinking about this! Hope you are better muy pronto!

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    • Thanks Mauren but be careful there too, they are everywhere! The itch is now intermittent but boy do I hate those chiggers.

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  12. Had chiggers get me in Salt Lake. My sister in law from Florida advised showering with Head and Shoulders. Did the trick to stop the itching!

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    • I will give this a try, its been nine days now and the itch has toned down a bit but still there 😦

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  13. OH Lord how I hate chiggers. More than any other thing. More than mosquitoes or ticks. Those chiggers get anywhere my clothing is tight, waist bands, bra straps, panty legs. And they get me any time I sit or lie in the grass which I love to do and can’t do any more. I think they are spreading. When we first lived in Virginia 40 years ago I had no trouble with them on the farm but the last 10 years I couldn’t go anywhere, not even in my own yard. And they itch worse than posion ivy and last longer. I couldn’t find anything that would work including all the remedies mentioned in other’s comments other than chiggerid which I’ve never tried.. Fingernail polish, nope. The only thing that helped was to take the hottest shower I could stand and rub those suckers with my fingers, no nails until the itching stopped. That would keep the itching away for a few hours. Repeat as needed. I did a lot of repeating. I REALLY REALLY REALLY sympathize with you.

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    • Thank you Sherry, I think Chiggers gave us a lot of reason to really hate them. This is my first time and I did learn how nasty they are. And you know that picture I took, there were two of them hiding in my laptop case since the 18th! Imagine that. But they were the adults not the biters but I smashed them nevertheless. I am more careful now when hiking and won’t sit on any grass for any reason, not even for taking pictures.

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  14. Uh-oh. You got a bad case of chigger bites! Growing up in Florida, I’ve had way more than my share of chiggers — so I empathize with your misery. The itching seems to go on FOREVER, and as you said, the bites are often in places that you don’t want to scratch in public! You did a great service in educating everyone about the nasty little critters.

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    • Oh Laurel, those no see um bites I had in FL were nothing compared to what I have now. ITs the 9th day and I m still at it!

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      • ML, if you’re still itching, you might try pure peppermint essential oil mixed with rubbing alcohol. It will temporarily calm the itching. Add 20 drops of essential oil to one ounce of alcohol, shake it up, and dab it on as often as you need. I hope those bites are calming down….

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  15. Wow, I have heard of these little guys, but never knew much about them. Thanks for the enlightenment. Sorry you have to go through the experience. It gave me the hebegebies just reading this and I close itching.

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    • Yup, tiny mites with big bites! stay away from tall grass for that is where I got them.

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  16. ugh sorry to hear about the Chiggers. I am familiar here in Delaware with the little buggers. When my husband is in the woods hunting or walking he says to keep clothes tucked in and he uses Chiggerrid & hair spray when he gets them. also bathing with vinegar. sounds weird to me but works for him. says it last over a week.

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    • That’s the thing, I did not know I got them until a few hours later and by that time they have drop off. ITs the itch thats killing me. I will try Chiggerrid, which I have not heard before only to remedy the urge to scratch.

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  17. Eeeeeek…yuk…hate those kind of insects. We haven’t come across these particular nasties although we’ve had lots of experience with ticks. Hope you get to a chigger free area soon!

    Nina

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    • Mites with big bites! And I learned my lesson now, not to be complacent when hiking in grassy areas nor sit on the grass.

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  18. I can only think how uncomfortable this must have been… we have many different critters, as you call them, that are unpleasant when encountered…. we have a sand flea that gets onto you and seems impossible to see but the itches tell you of their presence… fine ticks much they same…. however one cure all I’ve discovered is methylated spirits… this seems to take the itches away and shortens the discomfort quickly….. it also dislodges any unseen critters hidden from sight….

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    • Oh, what are examples of methylated spirits? What do you have out there that is comparable here? I would surely give it a try just to shorten my discomfort.

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      • Meths is a spirit which they add a purple colorant to, so people won’t drink it… basically it is a high alcohol spirit….
        I think you could try medical spirits as well… anything that has a quick evaporation level works well on most of these things…. I once used petrol (gas as you call it) on wasps stings, the hydrocarbons took all the sting out of the bites and in fact there was no swelling even… We have also used diesel oil on burns with much success…
        I believe you can get a product called “denatured alcohol” which is the same as our Methylated spirits…

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  19. Yikes! You poor girl! So sorry they got you. I’ve never seen a chigger before, but have always been careful about not picking up ticks. Your educational post was informative and creepy! I’m itching to know if they got in your RV and multiplied.

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    • What I learned is that once the larvae finished feeding they drop off and became adults. I have a feeling that two of them were hiding in my laptop case as they showed up two days ago. And that was the picture I posted of two adult chigger that rode with us for seven days, from Peru IN to Elkhart. I have vacuumed and washed all my clothes…hope they are gone, too tiny to see on naked eyes.

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  20. Oh my, sounds awful! Makes it awfully hard to enjoy a hike knowing something like that is lurking in the grass. You must cringe every time you see one of those little beasts!

    I should probably knock on wood when I write this, but we have had no insect issues since arriving in the Olympic Peninsula. No ticks, virtually no mosquitos…

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    • I think most of these critters abound in warm areas. And you are right Lisa, it makes me cringed now when I see a trail with tall brushy areas. Even when we hiked up that dune, I was already wearing long pants and long sleeves, and it was hot and humid!

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  21. Being from Texas, I did not realize we do all your suggestions to prevent them and others critters just sub consciously. I really feel your pain. It has been said, clear fingernail polish as it seals the air out and they have to come out to breath.

    I also was very surprised that Indiana seemed to have so many creepy crawlers like these.

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    • Indiana is farmland and we were in a state park full of vegetation and it is hot and humid. And I was not careful walking on those trails.

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  22. Oh my gosh…. so very sorry to hear about your chigger adventure. Fortunately, I’ve never encountered the little buggers and hope I never do. Thanks for the education and showing us your ‘killer’ instinct 🙂

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    • I hope you never will Ingrid, and I hope they are not out there out West. Id rather have mosquitoe bites, for they are gone in a day or two, these….still scratching and itching. hates those nasty little beasts.

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  23. Oh, MonaLiza! I am itching for you! I’ve only heard of chiggers in the Spanish moss in the south. Our tour guide warned us about touching or picking it up. I didn’t know you could get them other places. Thanks for this info. I am always worried about the longer grasses but mainly because of ticks. Now I have chiggers to worry about…yuck! You had several pictures of them in the motorhome. Did they get in or did you bring that many in on your clothes? Hope the itching stops soon:)

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    • Ticks were always in our minds when hiking here but Chiggers were a surprise. Yup, lessons learned for me is to avoid tall long grasses and stay on the trail. I was really surprised to see two Chiggers coming out of my laptop case the other day, which was the 8th day since the invasion and we are now in Elkhart! Apparently I might have brought a lot of them with me into the house since I did not feel them nor see them when they were feeding. I was really oblivious of their existence, now we know.The itching and scratching has toned down a bit, thanks, Pam.
      We hikers have two enemies to be aware of, ticks and chiggers!

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  24. Being from Georgia, I am very familiar with chiggers. We always applied clear fingernail polish to the bite and it seemed to work. That’s a long time to be itching…glad all is better now.

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  25. ticks and chiggers, chicks and tiggers….our constant refrain. I always cringe when I see pictures of you sitting in the grass or walking through the tall weeds…..you area actually pretty lucky that this is the first time you’ve been “visited”…..shudder.

    Sue

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    • Thank you Sue, I learned my lesson now, never to sit in the grass 😦 I hope to not be invaded again. …just the thought makes me itch

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  26. Chiggers are nasty, no doubt about it. Thanks for the tips on how to avoid and deal with them. I hope you’re headed far away from their territory!

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    • I sure hope Im away from their territory but I will be more careful next time we hiked. At least I learned a lot from my Chigger episode.

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  27. uggh! I so feel for you! I once had a chigger episode when I was about 9 on the farm in AR. My Aunt and Mom rubbed me down post haste with alcohol to remove the critters. I remember being very itchy! I also learned that it’s not just on the farm but it could be in my own neighborhood. I’m pretty vigilant in the summer now. Thanks for posting the info!

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    • You are welcome. I guess your episode when you are nine made you vigilant and have since avoid them or they have not find you.

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  28. I started itching as soon as I saw the title to this post! Thank you for posting this to help those who aren’t familiar with these little critters that cause such misery.

    I feel your pain! I know exactly what chiggers are and they love me! Your advice is great and I can add a couple more things that have helped me.

    If the cortozone cream doesn’t work (it didn’t for me) another cream to help the itching is Chiggerrid. Taking Benedryl helps some although it puts me to sleep. If you have a bathtub available taking an Aveno bath relieves the itching for while.

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    • I have not heard of Chiggerrid but I will give it a try, anything that alleviates the itching.
      I know I never heard of those nasty mites until they invaded me 😦

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      • I was attacked by chiggers here in the south many times as a child. I hope your misery is over soon!

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  29. Good morning! Had had to chuckle at the title of the new post, but hated to hear you were still battling those invaders. 🙂 I learned a lot from your post,so thank you. Now, I know why we girls get attacked more! So sorry this happened to you and keep that cortisone on board.

    Did you get to enjoy any new destinations while in Elkhart?

    Jon talked to Atwood and we are taking coach to Raper Rv in Richmond, In on Thursday for a new installation of a jack system. If we didn’t go there and it is only an hour away we would have to go to Red Bay,AL. Will keep you posted.

    Looking forward to reading more. Take care.

    Jane Unger

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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    • Jane, there were more than the one I showed you 😦
      Yes we did check out the garden quilts on the heritage trail, and more, thank you for your ideas.
      Steve says thank you for keeping him updated of your jack system saga.

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