Although they are small, they are still mighty! At least, the bites of chiggers are. Many nature lovers will pull up long socks over their pants and don long sleeves to avoid these little red insects. Chigger bites are small, itchy and irritating.
Chiggers, although called insects, are actually mites. They are worldwide pests and thrive in humidity and thick vegetation.
Let’s take a look at how we can naturally rid our yards of chiggers, or at least deter them from munching on us.
Keep That Lawn Short and Mowed
A short lawn and clear yard is a good thing, especially if you have shady areas and long grass. Mow your lawn often. This gets rid of places where chiggers can hide during the hottest and sunniest parts of the day. Chiggers don’t like the sun and aren’t very hardy.
Pull weeds and tall grass, as well as briars, as these are favorite chigger hiding places. Trim your trees, shrubs and bushes often as well. By doing this, there is less moisture and shade for the chiggers. This type of yard care should be done all year long.
Stinky Stuff Works
The Gulf Coast Tribe “Karankawa” discovered a natural repellent. They used alligator grease to keep these little guys at bay. If you don’t have that grease handy, you can always pick up some sulphur powder from a pharmacy or feed store. Keep in mind, the powder does have an odor, but it works.
Place your socks and a tablespoon of the powder in a bag, seal it and shake the bag to coat the socks well. You also can do this with your shoes. If you want to go all the way, you can dust your pants and shirt with the sulphur powder. The smell is strong at first, but does fade. Many folks even sprinkle the powder throughout the yard. It does repel more than chiggers, so be aware you may be chasing away critters you actually want to stay.
Chiggers prefer small mammals, reptiles and amphibians to humans. We aren’t really their style. By discouraging these hosts, you discourage chiggers from staying in your yard. Start by removing foliage, shrubs and water sources. As mentioned above, sulphur powder deters a wide variety of critters, including snakes and many of these hosts. The mites will follow their food sources.
Another natural way to get rid of the little mites is to encourage chigger predators, such as spiders, carpenter ants, salamanders and centipedes to come around. You also can plant pennyroyal, a natural mite deterrent, but keep in mind it is toxic to cats. If you, or your neighbors own cats, pennyroyal is not recommended.
Brush it Off
Brush off your body often while working outside, approximately every 30 minutes. If possible, avoid tall grasses and unmown fields. Wear protective clothing if working in such areas and shower well with very warm water when finished. Give your skin a good scrub.
Remember, sitting in grass will make you an easy target for chiggers, so sit in short grass if you can. Wash your clothes well after your outdoor adventures, making sure the water is hot. When the wash is done, hang out in the sun to dry. Chiggers hate hot and dry, so this is a great way to deter them from hanging around.
Chigger Repellent Anyone?
If you are simply looking for some sort of natural repellant for these little pests, you can always look to essential oils to do the job. Essential oils are natural and you can actually use them all the time, not only as repellant. Top oils for repelling insects, including chiggers, are lavender, lemongrass, sage, thyme and tea tree oil. You can rub it on your skin, especially around your ankles, waist and wrists, or you can use the following, simple recipe for a spray repellant.
What you will need:
- Witch Hazel
- Essential oil of your choice
- Spray bottle
- 2 teaspoons of witch hazel
- 5 drops of essential oil
- 4 tablespoons of water
Shake well and spray where needed. Simple, easy and it works.
Apple cider vinegar also is known to work. Simply spray your skin and clothes with this vinegar. It is a bit stinky at first, but usually the smell fades. You just spray when needed and shower/wash your clothes when you come back inside.
Sound too easy? These are just some natural ways to deter chiggers and the bites they give. With very little work, you can enjoy the outdoors without the worry of irritating bites.
What ways do you keep away from chiggers? Share your tips in the section below: