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Chigger killing environments

 
Posts: 44
Location: MO_AR stateline Zone 6b/7a
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Has anyone here found a successful way to reduce/eliminate a chigger population through changing the environment? In other words, have you been able to introduce chigger predators to your environment, and what have you found that works best here in the ozarks? (A list of predators at the bottom of this page... http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/chigger.htm) While there is snow on the ground I'm starting my battleplan for the spring. Any other ideas on how to kill these mother f*ckers?
 
Posts: 319
Location: (Zone 7-8/Elv. 350) Powhatan, VA (Sloped Forests & Meadow)
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Josh,

We have an abundance of predators due to planting plenty of what draws in the predators. Bad news...the chiggers are still winning! We have actual scars as a result of being eaten alive by those little devils! We have also had no real luck with the numerous items used to repel or block them. We are in central Virginia and chiggers are very bad here; in fact, I do not think it is possible to be any worse! I do hope some else has found a successful solution before it gets warm again. A warm day last week had me dreading their arrival, too.
 
Posts: 528
Location: Eastern Kansas
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We have plenty of ants but we also have chiggers!

When I mow my lawn I will often run the lawnmower in a path from the house to the garden and other points of interest. The lawn mower delivers to the side, and so the little pests are vacuumed up and tossed aside. Of course they come back, but it reduces the bites.
 
Posts: 7696
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Hello, Josh and welcome to permies! It's good to have more Ozarks folks here

i think we only have chiggers in the mowed lawn....ours lawn area gets smaller each year as we let more grow up and plant other things. Even so over a wet summer they are bad and especially in newly mown grass. We have put a lot of faith in two guineas to eat ticks and maybe some chiggers this year.

edit to add...I think diet might play a part in how much we are bit...or even one's age. I know that when I was younger, but also eating much more meat and SUGAR, I would pick up chiggers where ever we were...totally raw ankles all summer. This is kind of an 'I don't know' answer I guess.
 
Cortland Satsuma
Posts: 319
Location: (Zone 7-8/Elv. 350) Powhatan, VA (Sloped Forests & Meadow)
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@Judith...

You may have something there! However, I do know firsthand that your one suggested cause / effect is incorrect. Our personal, lifelong diet precludes what you thought may be the catalyst. That being said, it is a known fact that mosquitoes eat some people more than others...So, it is reasonable to think chiggers are drawn to certain people for a reason! Which could include actual biological factors that may change over a persons lifetime...as you observed in your own life. Any science to back this up, from anyone, would be great! We also, get bit up all the time in non-lawn areas; so for us at least, I think it is a matter of an overpopulation of the devils. When we first moved here, we also had a massive amount of ticks...being bit on the elevated front porch within a minute of going out the door. We picked up about a dozen roosters and things have gotten better, but, they are still abundant as well.
 
Josh J.J. Jones
Posts: 44
Location: MO_AR stateline Zone 6b/7a
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Judith Browning wrote:Hello, Josh and welcome to permies! It's good to have more Ozarks folks here

i think we only have chiggers in the mowed lawn....ours lawn area gets smaller each year as we let more grow up and plant other things. Even so over a wet summer they are bad and especially in newly mown grass. We have put a lot of faith in two guineas to eat ticks and maybe some chiggers this year.

edit to add...I think diet might play a part in how much we are bit...or even one's age. I know that when I was younger, but also eating much more meat and SUGAR, I would pick up chiggers where ever we were...totally raw ankles all summer. This is kind of an 'I don't know' answer??? I guess.



I know guineas will eat ticks, but do they eat chiggers? Has anyone had any luck with diatomaceous earth killing the little scar creators? It seems to me that DE would be a hard way to go, because chiggers cover such a wide area.
 
Josh J.J. Jones
Posts: 44
Location: MO_AR stateline Zone 6b/7a
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Through a little research I found that Jewelweed(Impatiens capensis) is commonly used to treat bites and stings and such. Although it doesn't kill chiggers, it seems that it does help reduce their effects. This is a plant I haven't tried. Anyone having success with it?
 
Josh J.J. Jones
Posts: 44
Location: MO_AR stateline Zone 6b/7a
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So has anyone had any experience with Pyrethrum as an organic pesticide? See Mother Earth article about it HERE. Tansy is another one I've found that is used to repel mosquitoes, beetles, and ticks, but they don't mention chiggers. Wiki HERE
 
Cortland Satsuma
Posts: 319
Location: (Zone 7-8/Elv. 350) Powhatan, VA (Sloped Forests & Meadow)
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@Josh...

We test patched DE last year...no luck. Spreading it everywhere may work; however, we will not do that since it will kill our good bugs too. We used an rx cream from the doctor that helped with the swelling and itching as none of the natural formulas helped us. Also, no natural topicals kept them off of us. This winter we have been drinking our coffee with 1/4 chicory; as I remember, that it is ofen drank in the south to ward off all biters. We bought it in bulk on Amazon, so it was fairly freshly packed and not costly. My spouse likes it; I taste a chemical taste from it...but, I will drink it all April preparing for the May-Sept. onslaught. I will report back on our results; but, you may just want to give it a shot too!
 
Posts: 76
Location: central illinois
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We're in central Illinois, also chigger country. Last Spring (2014) I bought a 10 lb. bag of "feed grade" sulfur powder and used it this season. I'm cautiously optimistic, I did get bit but I think the times I got bit most were when I either didn't use the sulfur or was lax about applying it. I found the best technique was to put some in a sock and swing/hit myself all over with it, carrying the sock around my belt also in order to re-apply. I'm going to stay with sulfur next year and be more disciplined about using/carrying it along with the other known practices including showers when I come in, pants tucked in, long sleeves, etc.
 
Cortland Satsuma
Posts: 319
Location: (Zone 7-8/Elv. 350) Powhatan, VA (Sloped Forests & Meadow)
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@ Micheal...

We will check into the sulfur; have not tried that yet. On the use of chicory...


I did not get bit at all for months...then I stopped drinking chicory...and my feet are killing me as I type! The buggers got me on single trip in the yard in flip flops. (I now have my chicory coffee in hand even as I write, lol) I thought chicory had not been the cause / effect because my spouse was bit up all summer (about half as much as prior year) while drinking the chicory also. Our experience indicates it does work very well for certain body chemistry and not so well for others.
 
pollinator
Posts: 286
Location: Ozarks
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I call them little bastards myself. I've always read they live in tall grass, over 6 inches and have noticed that's when I get them most but can also get them in the woods. Chickens won't eat them as they're too small for them to see but keets are supposed to eat them. My son and I are chigger magnets but wife and daughter don't get them. We pretty much all eat the same things so I don't know if diet makes a difference but I just started eating quite a bit of garlic for health reasons and am hoping it will help. Will help with the skeeters at least.
 
pollinator
Posts: 114
Location: Central Indiana, zone 6a, clay loam
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I too would love to know how to deal with these bastards in a permie way. Right now, I'm tempted to try my friend's advice and go the controlled burn route. But that might just be the infernal itching and subsequent lack of sleep and garden time talking..Anywho, since I've been stuck inside for fear of getting yet more bites in the most indecent of places, I have been researching trying to find a solution. I don't know that I'm any closer to one, but thought I'd share some of what I discovered in my quest. From what little research I could find, it seems that chiggers have "tremendous “ecological potency”, occupying regions within a wide variety of temperature, vegetation, and pH of the soil. In an experimental study, the type and layers of vegetation or organic matter, morphological surface of the soil, and the amount of moisture and solar radiation had no significant affect on the distribution of N. autumnalis."

I feel like we have definitely noticed a serious increase in their presence this year, even though we went a month without real rain. We have even been getting bit in the garden, much of which is mulched with woodchips. I have to wonder if the 17 or more truckloads of leaves we saved from going to the dump and then distributed throughout our garden and surrounding areas may have been helpful to them. Or possibly even brought in adults/eggs from other sites. It sounds like they do like to overwinter and/or lay eggs in leaf litter. One of the worst rounds of bites happened when we were in a shaded area where we had put copious amounts of leaves. No understory vegetation present.
If the leaves did lead to the increased numbers, it makes me wonder if turning them into leaf mold first would reduce said issue? We had so many, that lots of the leaf bags were just emptied out onto the ground as is.

"While no predators of Neotrombiculus autumnalis have been recognized in the literature thus far, strategies to reduce the number of pests in the field have involved the use of gamasid species Amblyseius cumcumeris and A. agrestis. (Scholer, 2006)"
https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Neotrombicula_autumnalis/#habitat
So possibly these other mites could battle with the bad ones? I always wonder when introducing beings like that whether there could be unintended consequences or innocent bystanders though.

Another discovery I made was that applying an oil or salve all over does seem to hinder their ability to ascend up the body. I tried it and got no bites above the ankles. But if you wear socks, as most suggest when venturing into chigger territory, the oil rubs off on them and you end up with all the bites concentrated on the feet. 100ish chigger bites in one place really dials up the crazy making factor.

Multiple Environmental Factor Analysis in Habitats of the Harvest Mite Neotrombicula autumnalis (Acari: Trombiculidae) Suggests Extraordinarily High Euryoecious Biologyweb

While not specifically about chiggers, perhaps some leads on predators here?
Natural Enemies of Mites

I read another article by an MD saying that household vinegar was a great treatment to apply after possible exposure. He claimed it would reduce itching and shorten the duration or even possibly prevent the papules forming if applied early enough. Tried this with some benefit, but I didn't catch them until after they were already itchy welts, so hard to know. Seemed worth a shot, given the minimal effort. I saw a few people suggesting vinegar as a repellant as well.

Through a little research I found that Jewelweed(Impatiens capensis) is commonly used to treat bites and stings and such. Although it doesn't kill chiggers, it seems that it does help reduce their effects. This is a plant I haven't tried. Anyone having success with it?



I tried Jewelweed with the worst round of bites and found it offered some relief, but it did not last very long. But then nothing really did. I haven't tried it on single, isolated bites. That might be a better gauge of effectiveness than the 100 concentrated ones on my feet, but I digress. I took several plants, ran them through the blender with a bit of water (might have used a little witch hazel?) and strained the juice off. I froze this into ice cubes for later use. These are what I used. I do wonder if the cold was what created part of the relief.  Some folks make salves and soaps out of jewelweed, which might work differently. You could also use the fresh plant (though I'd wash it first to make sure there aren't chiggers on it!). This works better with younger plants, as they get kind of fibrous and less juicy with age. But if you crush up the stem, especially near the root, you can use that as a poultice.
Mostly, I use a plantain (Plantago major or lanceolata) salve as my go to and found it helps quite a bit with more isolated bites. It is good for drawing stuff out and helps prevent secondary infections as well as speed healing. I am going to try making a salve of plantain and pine resin to see if that can help draw things out better from these awful bites. I wonder if its the stylosome that makes them so itchy and if so, if it can be dissolved or drawn out more quickly.
I also read that Wild Cherry (Prunus serotina) can help reduce histamine reactions, but have not been able to find much about how best to use it or if that would be appropriate in this situation.
 
Posts: 16
Location: Ozarks
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My understanding is that it takes about 15 minutes for a chigger to settle in and start its insidious attack.

For a permi approach I have found if I stop what I am doing about every 15 minutes and just use my hands to rub off my clothing and my skin. It helps a lot. I have to follow this routine religiously and it seems to reduce the bites considerably, not completely but it does help. It does require me to basically strip naked and vigorously rub my whole body especially my jibbly bits that they seem to really enjoy.
  This method may not be for city folk or those that garden with there children. Then as soon as I have finished my out door work for the day I take off all my clothes leaving them outside, take a shower and put on clean clothes.

 
pollinator
Posts: 300
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Probably not the most popular solution is I know military types who when in the weeds maneuvering they wear pantyhose. This protects their bottom half at least from being eaten.
 
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Wash with Listerine. I found that after washing in the shower and pour on me listerine and leaving it for a couple of seconds it burns at first but immediately after you feel a lot cooler ; it offers tremendous relief from the nasty bites. I also use a shower gel called village naturals therapy for aches and pains muscle relief foaming bath oil and body wash . It has eucalyptus spear meant and menthol available at Walmart . I only scrub my body with it not my head because it is super strong . I live in Central  Florida here chiggers are almost permanent. Rinse the two products very well . Finish with cool water . Good luck. Stay healthy
 
master gardener
Posts: 2120
Location: southern Illinois.
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Hi Cynthia,

In a similar manner, I use alcohol.
 
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I walk barefoot in early spring and after my first round of chigger bites I start wearing taller socks (ankle-calf height) and fully enclosed shoes. It's a matter of exposure for me and I'm someone that bugs especially love to bite. Also, if you squat down alot, such as in the garden, if your inner leg/groin touches your ankles you'll get bites in those areas. I try to avoid having any grass touch my bare skin and that seems to help. If I get a lot of grass touching my skin then I try washing with soap and water as soon as I come inside. The BEST treatment for any bites is Bee Venom Cream. I buy this from a local woman who sells each year at the Baker Creek Seed Spring Festival. This stuff works immediately on any itchy bug bite I've ever had, it's incredible!
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