HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Recreation » Gardening (Group) » The scourge of chiggers a...

Fri Jun 27, 2014, 08:54 AM

The scourge of chiggers and what you can do...

.... I purchased an acreage 10 years ago. For the first seven years, we came up here on the weekends and worked on this or that. Finally, 2 years ago we moved up here.

We've been into gardening from the beginning and clearing brush or doing anything out in the grass was torture that evening and the next few days. If you live in an area that doesn't have chiggers you don't know how lucky you are. Getting bites all over your ankles, knee bends, and other sensitive areas is really not much fun and once you have the bites the medications you can use to alleviate the itching work only a little.

So, the best defense is to not get bitten to begin with. My wife and I spent hours on the intertubes looking for ideas. We have used some of them and we have also tried things we were told would not work and found that they in fact did work.

So, while I would be a liar if I said there was anything short of staying indoors that would prevent ALL chigger bites, you can cut them down by 90-95% if you are willing to take certain steps.

First, I'm sure all of you know that chiggers hate sulfur and if you have a relatively small area of the outdoors that you frequent in the summer, you can spread granulated sulfur in that area and few chiggers will hang around.

Failing that, there are two things you can do, prepare before you go out, and/or treat after you come back indoors.

Our most effective preventative against chigger bites sounds yucky and maybe is but it works and that is what counts. Before you put on your socks coat the tops of your feet, your ankles and your leg up to about halfway between your foot and knee with "creamy' vaseline. You can buy this stuff at any drug and most grocery stores. It is pretty cheap. You need to put on a thick coating of this stuff because it is going to mechanically stymie the chigger that wants to bite you. Try not to use your tightest socks after applying this to keep from rubbing too much of it off. You could try regular vaseline, we have not tried that but I'm betting it would work also, if being a bit more yucky also.

Just doing this will reduce your chigger bites a lot. You can also take an old sock filled with powdered sulfur and dust your shoes and pants over your ankles. This will help some also, but not as much as the vaseline. Do both if you can.

If your infestation is acute (ours is really bad from late May to usually around mid-July here in Texas), or if you went outside and visited a chigger infested area without making prior preparations, there is something you can do when you get home.

First, get out of your shoes, socks and pants as soon as possible. It is highly likely that they are covered in chiggers that haven't made their way to your skin yet. Put them away because the little jerks can make their way to your body after you remove them - throw them in a hamper far away from where you will be

Now, we have read on the internet that this next step doesn't work but it dang sure works for us. Now you need to REALLY WET your feet, ankles and halfway to all the way up to your knee (depending on how long you were outdoors) with rubbing alcohol. Wet a cloth, really wet, not just damp, and go at it. Or EVEN BETTER, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer instead. Being more viscous, it is easier to apply a nice thick layer on your skin - I don't know if it kills the little bastards or just weakens them, all I know is I don't get many bites when I do that.

Or course, at this point you need to take a good shower and scrub your feet, ankles and lower legs with hot soapy water. Happy gardening.

4 replies, 9268 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 4 replies Author Time Post
Reply The scourge of chiggers and what you can do... (Original post)
sendero Jun 2014 OP
Curmudgeoness Jun 2014 #1
sendero Jun 2014 #2
Curmudgeoness Jun 2014 #3
sendero Jun 2014 #4

Response to sendero (Original post)

Fri Jun 27, 2014, 08:12 PM

1. Funny that you would bring this up now.

I am still healing from the first ever bout of chiggers. I love how gently you mentioned the "other sensitive areas". OMG OMG OMG.

I just got back from a visit to my sister's new property in Tennessee, and it seems the meadow down at the river had them there, waiting for me to come hiking through with shorts on. I still have my suitcase in the freezer hoping that I can kill any that may have come home with me....I took it right from the car to the chest freezer. I do not want to ever experience these again. It took a week for the itching to stop (Caladryl was my best friend) and I still have red welts everywhere. Everywhere. OK, maybe not everywhere, but ankles, behind the knees, panty line (and beyond), and armpits. I am lovely right now. But who cares, the itching finally stopped.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #1)

Sat Jun 28, 2014, 07:02 AM

2. Sorry my post..

.... was not more timely We are in the midst of chigger season here and spending a lot of time working outdoors in the garden or the woodpile we got eaten alive a few times before we figured out how to combat the little beasts.

Anyway, the next time you are going to be outdoors this time of year I hope you will try our tricks, they really work pretty well! And if anything in my post is not clear I'd be happy to offer more details.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to sendero (Reply #2)

Sat Jun 28, 2014, 02:03 PM

3. Once bitten, twice shy....

I will do anything to keep from going through this again. I still look like I am diseased, although it is getting better looking each day. I am in the process right now of washing everything that was in that suitcase that was in the freezer as I type. I am willing to use whatever means I can, and your suggestions sound like they would be worth using. And I will travel there with sulfur for dusting my clothes next time...but where do I get that?

I only had one thing that I was not sure about in your post, and that is the "put the clothes you were wearing in a hamper far away"...I would suggest burning them. Actually, I would not do that---I would not leave anything with possible chiggers laying around at all. I would put them in the washer as soon as I got home and wash with hot water, before I even went to treat myself and shower. I would also put my shoes in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer, just in case. Better safe than sorry....you sorry is what you will be if they get you.

I am sure that I will be in chigger territory again, but maybe I will visit my sister at a different time of year next time. Or maybe she will move.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #3)

Sat Jun 28, 2014, 04:49 PM

4. You can get..

... "wettable dusting sulfur" at a garden store, or probably any big-box home improvement store like Home Depot or Lowe's.

As for the clothes, I mean "don't be within 20-30 feet of where you put them". Tossing them in the washer right away is a great idea. But if you throw them in a hamper in another room, they are not going to be able to get to you, their mobility is quite limited because they are tiny.

We usually just toss the clothes in the laundry room and wash them when we get to it and we seem to get away with that

It seems like some folks are maybe not as sensitive to chigger bites or whatever, but for me getting really eaten up is total misery and the fact that I'm willing to coat my ankles with creamy vaseline, douse them with alcohol afterward, take a hot soapy scrubby shower immediately upon getting home are all testament to how much I don't want that miserable itch for 2 weeks ever again!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread