A day spent outdoors is supposed to leave you feeling refreshed and grounded. Instead, you end up rushing home while scratching your skin in search of calamine lotion and an over the counter antihistamine to treat chigger bites. We’ll show you how to repel chiggers using a few simple methods, so you enjoy the outdoors again without hassle.
Chiggers, or red bugs, are notorious for turning a pleasant afternoon hike into an itchy and irritating experience. If the temperature is just right for outdoor activities, and if you’re in the right area, you’re bound to come across chiggers at one time or another.
An encounter with chiggers is one you won’t soon forget. A stroll through grassy areas that are infested with these insects leaves your legs covered in welts and bug bites, and the intense itching in your skin never seems to end. It is vital to prepare ahead of time with protection and repellent.
- Ways to Repel Chiggers and Keep them out of Your Yard
- What are Chiggers, and Where do They Come from?
- Natural Ways to Repel Chiggers with Diatomaceous Earth
- How to Keep Chiggers Away by Preparing Ahead of Time
- How to Repel Chiggers in the Yard with Insecticide
- Keeping Chiggers at Bay with Sulfur Powder
- Treating Your Clothing with Insect Repellent to Keep Chiggers Away
- Deterring Chiggers with Essential Oils
- Ways to Prevent Chiggers and Bites
- How to Find Chigger Hot Spots in Your Yard
Ways to Repel Chiggers and Keep them out of Your Yard
Your backyard is a place to enjoy time off, and nature has so much to offer. Unfortunately, it is also full of unwanted guests such as mosquitoes and harvest mites, that are eagerly awaiting your arrival.
Here is how to get rid of chiggers around your home and keep them off your skin.
What are Chiggers, and Where do They Come from?
While there are many natural ways to repel chiggers, understanding precisely what they are and where they hang out are important first steps to eliminating them from your area and keeping them off your body. However, be prepared to be a little disgusted.
Chiggers are closely related to fleas and ticks, but they are tiny and barely visible to the naked eye. They are trombiculid mites and are members of the arachnid family.
They generally live in grassy areas, most often around lakes and rivers, and are most active when the temperatures are between 77 and 86°F. As you walk through the grass, these insects bite your skin and attach to you.
They then inject enzymes into the skin to soften the skin cells, making a meal out of the digested tissue and causing an irritating rash. These nasty bugs can stay on your body for up to four days while feeding.
Natural Ways to Repel Chiggers with Diatomaceous Earth
There are many natural ways to deter chiggers, and diatomaceous earth or DE is top on the list. What kills chiggers and other annoying bugs in the yard? This naturally occurring powder is absorbed into the exoskeleton of insects, scratching their shells and causing death.
To use diatomaceous earth to kill chiggers, use a diatomite duster to spread an even layer of diatomaceous earth throughout your entire lawn. Pay special attention to areas where you and your family congregate, and make sure to apply it on a day when you expect no high winds or rain.
How to Keep Chiggers Away by Preparing Ahead of Time
Knowing how to keep chiggers away and what repels gnats and other annoying insects is the difference between a fun-filled day outdoors and a bad day. Preparing for outdoor excursions makes the experience a lot more enjoyable.
Chigger Bite Prevention
Before heading out into the yard, tall grass, or woods, cover your exposed skin with long sleeves, long pants, tall socks, and proper footwear. Cover your clothing and skin with a chigger bug repellent and brush bare skin every 15 minutes while outside.
These insects do not latch on right away, so regular wiping of your skin effectively removes them. Shower with soap and hot water after spending time in infested areas and apply hydrocortisone to affected spots if necessary.
How to Repel Chiggers in the Yard with Insecticide
There are various commercial insect repellents on the market if you prefer not to use home remedies to repel chiggers. Some work better than others, and it’s essential to use them properly when treating your yard.
Chigger Insecticide Yard Treatment
There are a few different types of yard insecticides, including dust, granules, and concentrated liquid, so it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s directions for your particular brand.
Apply the chemical to your yard’s infected areas according to the instructions using a handheld garden sprayer or spreader. Treat your yard in mid to late spring to kill chigger larvae, and repeat the process in three weeks if necessary.
Keeping Chiggers at Bay with Sulfur Powder
Sulfur powder is one of the natural ways to repel chiggers. It is an inexpensive and popular choice for keeping mites, ticks, and chiggers away from your legs and is readily available at many stores.
Sulfur Powder Chigger Repellent
When preparing to go outside, sprinkle a dusting of sulfur powder into your socks and shoes before putting them on. The strong odor repels the chiggers hiding in grass and weeds as you walk through them.
For extra protection, or if you’re heading into a highly infested area, sprinkle some of the powder on the inside of your pants and shirt as well.
Treating Your Clothing with Insect Repellent to Keep Chiggers Away
Even if you treat your yard to kill chiggers, you still encounter them while hiking away from home. Here is how to keep chiggers away and stop gnats from flying around you by treating your clothing before outdoor adventures.
Spray the outside of your clothing with either a natural or commercial repellent. DEET or diethyltoluamide and permethrin are the most effective insecticides on the market for keeping chiggers away, and they last up to three hours.
Spray this solution on clothes and exposed skin, but avoid getting it near your eyes or mouth.
Deterring Chiggers with Essential Oils
There are ways to deter insects that people swear by, and nail polish is a myth. However, essential oils are quite useful for repelling chiggers and to get rid of gnats in your yard naturally. Not only is this spray organic, but it has a pleasant scent, unlike most commercial repellents.
To make this homemade chigger repellent, pour the water and vodka into a small bowl and add a few drops of either citronella, lemongrass, clove, thyme, tea tree, or eucalyptus essential oil.
Stir the liquid well to mix and pour it through a funnel into a small spray bottle. Apply the repellent as you would any other bug spray to keep chiggers away and as one of the natural ways to repel mosquitoes and other annoying insects. It’s also helpful for getting rid of tiny red bugs in your house.
Ways to Prevent Chiggers and Bites
While it’s relatively easy to apply an insect repellent every time you go outdoors, this isn’t always a convenient practice. Fortunately, there are steps to prevent an infestation and deter little red bugs from your outdoor space.
The best way to prevent insects and the ideal way to get rid of chiggers in your yard is to maintain your yard. For the ultimate chigger prevention, cut back vegetation such as weeds and tall grass regularly and mow your lawn to keep it well trimmed throughout the season.
These insects love moisture and shade, so prune bushes, shrubs, and trees to cut back on the shade and lower humidity around plants. Continue these practices year-round to prevent dormant chiggers from thriving.
Small mammals, amphibians, and reptiles are host animals for chiggers, so take the necessary steps to keep them out of your yard.
Set up a fence around your garden and yard, keep trash can lids in place, and treat chigger hot spots with insecticide or diatomaceous earth as soon as you notice them.
Chiggers detest certain plants, and marigolds are at the top of the list. Consider planting these flowers around your yard, garden, patio, and other areas where you spend your time outdoors.
Not only do the blooms keep bugs at bay, but they liven up the space with color, texture, and scent.
How to Find Chigger Hot Spots in Your Yard
Understanding exactly where chiggers are hanging out in your yard is the key to prevention. Rather than using yourself as a guinea pig and risk bug bites around your ankles and in your armpits, try this technique to find infested areas.
Prop small pieces of black cardboard in varying spots of your yard. Let them sit for about half an hour and check them to see if they have teeny pink or yellow specks on them. Those tiny spots are chigger larvae.
It’s also useful to place shallow containers of water to attract the bugs with humidity and moisture. Mark each hot spot as you move around the yard and treat them accordingly.
Chiggers are nasty and tiny critters that you don’t want in your yard, let alone on your skin. Luckily, several easy forms of pest control keep them out of your space and prevent an infestation around your home.
We hope that knowing how to repel chiggers makes your backyard barbecues and afternoon walks more pleasant, and we’d love it if you share our chigger repellents and prevention methods with your friends and family on Pinterest and Facebook.