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  • Writer's pictureAndy Hemmer

Diatomaceous Earth for Chiggers


chigger

Chiggers, also known as harvest mites or red bugs, are tiny arachnids that can cause itchy bites and discomfort for humans and pets. These pests are commonly found in grassy areas and wooded regions, making outdoor activities a potential encounter with chigger bites. While there are various methods to control chiggers, using diatomaceous earth (DE) is a natural and effective solution. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore what diatomaceous earth is, the habits and life cycle of chiggers, how to identify them, and most importantly, how to use diatomaceous earth to control chigger infestations.



Understanding Diatomaceous Earth


pile of diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock composed of fossilized remains of diatoms, microscopic algae with hard shells. This fine powder is rich in silica and possesses remarkable absorbent and abrasive properties. When insects or arachnids come into contact with diatomaceous earth, it penetrates their exoskeletons, absorbs fats and oils, and ultimately dehydrates and kills them.



Habits and Life Cycle of Chiggers


Before delving into control methods, it's crucial to understand the habits and life cycle of chiggers:


  1. Habitat: Chiggers thrive in moist, grassy areas such as fields, forests, gardens, and lawns. They are most active during the warmer months, typically from spring to fall.

  2. Feeding Behavior: Chiggers are parasitic during their larval stage. They attach themselves to hosts, including humans and animals, and feed on skin cells, causing intense itching and irritation.

  3. Life Cycle: Chiggers undergo a four-stage life cycle: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. The larval stage is when they are most problematic for humans, as they seek hosts for feeding.



Identifying Chiggers


chigger bites on foot

Identifying chiggers is essential for effective control. While these pests are tiny and challenging to spot, there are some signs to look out for:


  1. Bites: Chigger bites typically appear as red, itchy welts on the skin, often with a central blister or pustule. They are commonly found in areas where clothing fits tightly or where skin is thinner, such as ankles, waistbands, and armpits.

  2. Habitat: Since chiggers prefer grassy and damp environments, being aware of these areas during outdoor activities can help identify potential exposure.

  3. Lifecycle Awareness: Knowing the times of year when chiggers are most active can also aid in identifying potential infestation risks.



Controlling Chiggers with Diatomaceous Earth


Now, let's explore how diatomaceous earth can be used effectively to control chiggers:


  1. Application: Apply diatomaceous earth in a thin, even layer in areas where chiggers are likely to be present, such as grassy areas, around trees, and along garden borders. Focus on spots where you suspect chigger activity or where you spend time outdoors. Best way to apply diatomaceous earth, in a lawn setting, is to mix the DE 50/50 with lawn sand or topsoil. Apply evenly and lightly to the point that it is visible. Be sure to reapply if it gets washed away by rain. Reapply every 7 days during the peak season of chigger activity.

  2. Direct Contact: When chiggers come into contact with diatomaceous earth, the powder adheres to their bodies, dehydrates them, and ultimately leads to their demise. Reapply as needed, especially after rain or irrigation that may wash away the powder.

  3. Personal Protection: When spending time in chigger-prone areas, wear protective clothing such as long sleeves, pants tucked into socks, and insect repellent to reduce chigger bites.

  4. Pet Protection: Apply diatomaceous earth to areas where pets frequent, such as pet bedding, outdoor resting spots, and around the perimeter of the yard to help protect them from chiggers.

  5. Environmental Considerations: Incorporate practices to reduce chigger habitats, such as mowing lawns regularly, clearing vegetation around the home, and minimizing moisture in outdoor areas.



Conclusion


Diatomaceous earth presents a natural and effective solution for controlling chiggers and mitigating their impact on outdoor activities. By understanding chigger habits and life cycles, identifying potential infestation risks, and strategically using diatomaceous earth, homeowners and outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy outdoor spaces without the nuisance of chigger bites. Remember to apply DE safely and consistently for optimal results, ensuring a more comfortable and enjoyable outdoor experience for all. Be sure to check out our Large Crawling Insect Control Diatomaceous Earth Bundle! This bundle saves you money and gives you the tools to apply diatomaceous earth to control chiggers and other crawling insects.





For smaller areas, please use our Small Crawling Insect Control Diatomaceous Earth Bundle










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