Some say or spell it Chiggars, Jiggers, Jiggars and, of course, Red Bugs.  But for this piece we will spell it the way all Entomologists do:  Chiggers!

If you don’t know what a Chigger/Red Bug is, you’ve probably never been bitten before.  Because those of us who do know them quite well from camping and hiking, can’t stand them.  By the way, and just for the record, Chiggers are not insects; rather they are mites in the spider family.  When they are in the larval or baby stage of their lives, they are parasitic.  And humans are actually accidental hosts. Chiggers prefer rodents, birds, toads or livestock. But if a human happens along, in lawns or maybe hiking in tall weeds, they’ll hop on a human leg for the ride.

If you frequently enjoy the outdoors, you probably already know that typical DEET-based insect repellents work to keep Chiggers off your person.   However, this tip sheet is focused on control measures around the house and landscape. 

Why?  Chiggers appear after a particular pattern of events takes place – a cycle of hot and humid for weeks, followed by torrential rains, coupled with summer fertilization.  Grasses grow at a rapid pace during these conditions – they LOVE it.  Turf grass tends to get taller than normal because mowing gets delayed, ornamental grasses grow profusely, and the wild grasses prosper, too.

Here are some control tips.   The side benefit to these control measures is that they will work on Flea & Tick and Chinch Bug outbreaks as well.  

As always, I will give you options on how to control these nasty boogers from the chemical control side to possible natural controls.  Obviously, for those with a bad enough problem and lots of land, this can seem costly, but these are the methods I know that work to control the dreaded Chigger/Red Bug.

First, let’s start with what ultimately is the overall “DIY” answer to chigger/flea/tick control, and it’s all quite similar to our chinch bug control methodology – because of the importance of breaking the egg cycle. Chinch Bugs – Randy Lemmon

I can attest and assure you that the liquid controls like bifenthrin, and permethrin, if applied three times over two weeks, does the job.  There are other supposed organic or all natural controls such as Eco Smart liquid applications with natural oils as the active ingredients.  Be aware that it can get costly to apply one Ready-to-Spray bottle at a time over acreage.  But for people looking for an “organic” or “all natural” alternative to synthetic pyrethroids, this could be a helpful step in the right direction.

There’s a recent push, especially online, to use controls specified for Bed Bug control.  They’ve got some fancy chemical names like Piperonyl Butoxide,  and they are normally designed for indoor controls because that’s where Bed Bugs reside, and are quite pricey compared to Bifenthrin and Permethrin-based products, more designed for outdoor use.

I’ve heard of other home-made controls with active ingredients like Molasses and Orange Oil, but be careful with the percentage of orange oil, because it can burn grasses. GardenVille has a blend called Anti Fuego, that has been known to work on ants, chinch bugs and chiggers as well.  But it can seem costly when having to pump up spray it over acreage.   I also recall our friends at Medina working on a similar product, but I still haven’t heard whether it’s available to the public just yet.

In the past few years, there are lots of natural oil combinations in organic insect controls that do an admirable job of keeping many insects at bay, such as Cedar Oil.  But they’ve combined many oils together in one bottle these days, where you’ll find 3-6 different products in one blend.  Sesame, Garlic, Peppermint, Clove etc.  Again, these are repellant formulas, not insecticidal in terms of killing. 

If I’m missing any standard, or even new-found chigger controls out there, please give us a call on the radio show, and we will vet it out for the audience.