Q:

How do you kill chiggers?

A:

Chiggers can be killed by using hot, soapy water. Taking a bath generally washes off the pests, killing most of the chiggers that have attached to the skin as well as the chiggers that are still crawling. Though this destroys the chiggers, it does not prevent the itching. Temporary relief is obtained by using ointments that contain benzocaine or hydrocortisone.

Chiggers are the larval stage of a type of mite and are bright orange, yellow or straw-colored. The bite of a chigger causes intense itching. Enzymes secreted by the burrowing mite are the cause of this itch. Using specialized mouthparts, chiggers create a hole in the host's skin and inject saliva into the wound. The saliva breaks down cell walls, providing the chigger with a diet of partially digested cells and their contents.

The itch from chigger bites is usually felt three to six hours after the time of the bite. Itching is accompanied by an inflammation of the skin. Intense itching can last for several days or weeks. Chiggers live in dead leaves or overgrown grass and are attracted to the carbon dioxide emitted by vertebrates. To prevent chigger bites, spray exposed skin with an insect repellent, and wear long pants and long sleeved shirts, tucking the pants into boots.


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