There’s A Monster In the Yard

Clematis in appalachia

In the garden flowers are blooming-red,white, and blue.

Peas are popping, and squash & cucumber are thriving.

But amid all the beauty and sustenance is a…..


Better known as a Chigger. For something so small, you can’t even see the little suckers with the naked eye, they sure can cause some intense aggravation.

I’ve always been told Chiggers burrow into you skin-they don’t-nor do they suck blood. Chiggers pierce the skin and inject saliva which liquefies skin cells-then they suck them up for a tasty meal.

Chiggers do burrow into the soil to make it through the winter months. In the spring, after the soil warms, females lay up to 15 eggs a day. The eggs hatch into larvae-the only stage at which Chiggers can bite humans and animals. Just after hatching Chiggers climb up vegetation where they can more easily jump onto a meal passing by. In my yard-that means me!

I’ve also been told Chiggers like elastic and that’s why their bites are often around the waist area or around the tops of your socks. Not true either-they actually just like to go for the most tender places on your body.

The treatment for Chigger bites runs the gamut from hydro-cortisone creams to baby oil. For me the only thing that seems to help-time.

So have you been bit by a Chigger yet this summer? If so what treatment did you use?


This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig in June of 2008.

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  • Reply
    June 15, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Take a bath in epsom salt and apply nail polish to the affected area. It will work every time.

  • Reply
    June 15, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Don’t seem to have much of a chigger problem here; it’s the darn fire ants that eat you up. I always manage to step on a hill of them and they hurt like the dickens when they bite.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    June 14, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    No chiggers yet — it’s usually when picking blackberries that we get them.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 14, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Salt water soak in the tub following any trip to the Blackberry patch was always my mother’s solution.
    It must have worked because it stopped the itching.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    June 14, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Oh yes, I have already encountered a couple of those little critters..we called them “red bugs” when I was growing up in Miss. I use nail polish…sometimes…sometimes just scratch’em…either way it just takes time in the end. I do use the deet products when I know I’m going to be in the woods around the house or weed-wacking…

  • Reply
    June 14, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    It’s been a while since I’ve had a chigger bite, but they are worse than ticks for making an itchy spot! When I was little I got them around my panty legs and Mama would put bacon grease on the bumps to help stop the itch. Good post!

  • Reply
    June 14, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Oh I hate those things. Used to get covered in them and found putting bleach in the bath water helped a bunch.

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    June 14, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    ouch.. im sorry for all you gardeners that have been bitten by this creature… hope you all find the remedies helpful and can stop them from biting..
    have a wonderful day
    and big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    June 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Hey Tipper,
    No chiggers here yet! least not on me…When we get’em it’s about blackberry pickin’ time…
    When I was a kid we never had “keep-off” spray or bug repellant.We just wore long sleeves and long pants, no shorts to pick berries…sometimes tape the bottom of your pants to keep them from crawling up your legs..
    I remember gettin’ covered in those little red devils after picking blackberries….I was itching like crazy..Mom, washed us down with Lye soap she brought from her home back in NC just especially for that purpose. I don’t know which was worse the Lye soap or chigger itch? We would also put clear fingernail polish on the spot to kill them..
    I don’t go in the tall weeds anymore..but when I roll down to the garden..If I forget to spray I pick up a tick now and again..I can’t stand those nasty little varmits either…If they weren’t so much trouble to get them to bond to keep them from leaving, I think I’d get a whole passle of Guineas…but then they would probably eat the few honeybees we have in the yard…!!
    Thanks Tipper PS..I’m not sure how many a passle is..but I would need a bunch for this place!Ha

  • Reply
    June 14, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Your flowers look gorgeous! It must be such a pleasure to sit and relax in your garden at this time of year. Not sure what a chigger is but I was once stung by a wasp. My arm had swollen up and hurt terribly. I treated it with olive oil and cortisone cream.

  • Reply
    June 14, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Bacon Grease is a sovereign remedy of my mom’s. I think the theory is the oil covering the bite starves them of oxygen and the salt dries ’em up. Chiggers live in Spanish Moss down here.

  • Reply
    June 14, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Growing up in the country I have had many experiences with all sorts of bad monsters! Chiggers are so irritating and will keep you awake at night. I got covered up several years ago while picking beans for three days. Always a good bath when you have come out of weeds as this gets rid of a lot of problems, and I found clear nail polish over the areas helped (supposed to stop their breathing). Itching was controlled with an anti-itch lotion. I have many old ideas that were passed on to me such as sticking a lighted cigarette close to a works as you can watch them back out and not leave the head. When I go to the garden I smear on Skin So Soft by Avon to deter mosquitoes, and have found those little yellow wrist bands helpful. Now if I could just keep those pesky yellow jackets at bay. Ouch!

  • Reply
    ron creager
    June 14, 2011 at 11:20 am

    When I was a kid, we would pick blackberries and get devoured by chiggers. With Grandma’s advise we went to the drugstore and purchased a little brown paper bag of sulfer. At the time it was about a nickel’s worth. We sprinkled a little into our socks and had no more problems with chiggers. By the way I was always told they came up from the ground.

  • Reply
    June 14, 2011 at 10:40 am


  • Reply
    June 14, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Since its been so hot and I’m only
    able to work the garden about an
    hour before dark, I usually wear
    shorts with high top sox. A few days ago something just ate me up
    under my sox, no bites above. And
    so the next time I really wet my
    legs and ankles down with vinegar.
    That stuff works wonderful, even
    if I did smell like a pickle. I
    could not see the critters that
    bit me, either chiggers or sand
    fleas but vinegar solved my problem…Ken

  • Reply
    June 14, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I have no scientific proof, but I once heard that the chigger is very poisonous but, since it is so small it can’t deliver enough poison to do anything other than just itch. I also heard that if it was the size of the common house fly it would be one of the deadliest creatures on earth. Like I said, I offer no scientific proof but it can offer food for thought.
    P.S. It took a while but I finally found one of Mary Lou Mc Killip’s books. It was “Harmony and True Grit”. She’s good! I finished it several nights ago. Lord, it makes a person want to be in the high country!

  • Reply
    Melissa P (misplaced Southerner)
    June 14, 2011 at 10:24 am

    STOP IT, Tipper! You’re makin’ me itch!
    I’ve learned so much from this blog! I really thought those suckers (literally) climbed under your skin. I always used clear nail polish in the past. Heard they were supposed to suffocate. Now, I know how misguided that was. Waste of perfectly good nail polish.
    I’m still itchin’!

  • Reply
    June 14, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Ugh…chiggers! Dealt with them more times than I can count. As “unmanly” as it sounds, using clear finger nail polish on the affected areas does the trick after a few days.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 14, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Benadryl cream does the trick for stopping the itch. Sometimes if they are really bad I’ll take a couple too.

  • Reply
    Sherie Rowe
    June 14, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Not yet this summer…we always use fingernail polish! Works like a charm!

  • Reply
    Wanda in NoAla
    June 14, 2011 at 9:34 am

    I haven’t had any this year, but I haven’t gone for walks in the woods. I usually put a dab of fingernail polish on them..this is supposed to kill the chigger. But it still itches for days!

  • Reply
    Ed Myers
    June 14, 2011 at 9:12 am

    My wife, lately come to the country from the big city (New York) has been, almost literally, devoured by chiggers, no-see-ums and unknowns (she has thus far avoided ticks and mosquitoes, the latter of which don’t breed where I live).
    As with heartache, no treatment but time.
    To be fair to the chiggers, however, she for long resisted the tried and true: long sleeves, long pants, socks, high boots and Deet along the cuffs and waistband. Now, she does and the results have almost overcome her abhorrence of the lack of fashion in same (I will never understand women; but, wait, is that an echo of the universal man I hear?).
    As for me, I’m rarely bothered, perhaps because I do wear pants, et al, or perhaps because my skin is thicker and not so delicious.

  • Reply
    canned quilter
    June 14, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Chiggers love my tender lily white old skin : ) I garden therefore I scratch and my go to treatment is Vicks Vapor Rub…..and time.

  • Reply
    June 14, 2011 at 8:47 am

    I had my first ‘run-in’ with the little monsters on Sunday while out checking on my blackberry vines.
    My MIL used to put Vick’s salve on her ankles and wrists when we picked berries, she believed it kept these pests away. Who can fault that idea? The pungent odor ought to work to keep most things at a distance!

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