When Is Chigger Season?

Chiggers are unwelcome pests that can leave you in a significant amount of discomfort as a result of their itchy bites. These tiny mites are more active during certain times of the year, which means that there are specific chigger seasons during which you’re most vulnerable to these critters.

If you love spending time outdoors, then taking steps to deal with chiggers is crucial. Understanding them and their behaviors will help you avoid their bites and the irritation and intense itching that comes with them. 

Chigger Bugs

What Are Chiggers?

Many people refer to chiggers as simply “bugs,” but there’s a bit more to it than that. For one, they’re the juvenile form of mites that belong to the Trombiculidae family. And though they might seem like insects at first, they’re actually a type of arachnid, similar to spiders and ticks. 

Nevertheless, like many other unwanted outdoor pests, chiggers go through a lifecycle with multiple stages. They start as eggs, hatch into larvae, grow into nymphs, and then mature into adults. 

The larva stage is the one that causes the most trouble for humans, as the chiggers are parasitic during that time, seeking hosts from which they can eat skin cells. The larvae inject digestive enzymes into the skin to break down cells so that they can eat them in a convenient liquid form. 

For us, those enzymes are what cause us to develop those characteristic red welts that leave us so itchy. The silver lining, though, is that chiggers don’t carry disease, so while their bites are uncomfortable, they are not inherently dangerous. 

One of the reasons that chiggers are so hard to deal with is their near-microscopic size. They’re barely visible, but you can spot them under close inspection. They have a distinct red color that’s easy to spot if you know what you’re looking for. With that in mind, understanding the timing of chigger season can help you avoid them year-round.

Timing of Chigger Season

Knowing when chigger season starts and the specific temperatures they’re most often at can help you plan outings to avoid these pests.

On that note, when do chiggers come out? In most regions, chigger season runs from late spring to early fall. Depending on where you live, chigger season might end between September and October. 

However, it’s not so much the time as it is the temperature that matters. Different geographical locations have varying temperatures, so they may give way to shorter or longer chigger seasons.

How long does chigger season last, then? Given that their ideal ground temperature range is between 77° and 86°F, that typically means May through September. Unfortunately, this is also the peak time for outdoor adventures, leaving you at serious risk of running into chiggers. But to reiterate, the exact timing will vary by region. 

When do chiggers go away for the season? The answer, like those above, also depends on temperature. Chiggers become inactive when temperatures dip below 60°F and will die when temperatures drop below 42°F. As such, chigger season is over for a good while once winter rolls in for most regions.

Regional Differences

The United States is home to many different climates, which means that the timing of chigger season can vary widely throughout the country. Knowing your local climate is useful when determining exactly when chigger season starts and ends.

States throughout the Midwest and Southeast provide environments that are well-suited for chiggers. Their high humidity and relative warmth during summer are just right for them. Areas with consistently high temperatures, such as Texas or the Santa Cruz Mountains, also have high chigger activity that can span much of the year. 

Where Chiggers Are Found

Knowing where chiggers are found on a local level is helpful in planning specific excursions that avoid them. With that in mind, you’ll encounter chiggers in environments that provide plenty of vegetation and moisture. Overgrown grassy areas, such as unkempt fields, are particularly alluring environments for chiggers to make their home.

Areas surrounding bodies of water are also prime chigger colony candidates. They often provide dense vegetation, which provides shade that helps the chiggers thrive, along with persistently high humidity. As such, working your way through areas of wet, dense plant life maximizes your chance of coming into contact with chiggers.

Chiggers hold onto grass and vegetation in the hopes of moving onto a host as it passes by. They don’t jump or fly, so you’ll need to come into direct contact with the plant they’re sitting on for them to take hold. Therefore, keeping your lawn, garden, and other outdoor areas well-trimmed can help you avoid chiggers, at least at home.

Impact of Weather on Chigger Activity

Just as the overall climate affects chigger activity, an area’s daily weather is also a prime factor in dealing with chiggers. They’re most active on warm days with high humidity. Periods of sustained heat and humidity, such as the hottest days of summer in many regions, will allow chigger populations to flourish. However, many areas have significant dry periods during summer. The low humidity can actually limit chigger activity, even when it’s hot out. 

The weather early in the season can impact chiggers for the rest of the year. A very cold spring, for instance, will limit their growth during a critical time, limiting the population for that year. Similarly, a chilly fall can also bring an early close to chigger season.

Preventing Chigger Bites

Permethrin Spray is a convenient solution you can apply to clothes and gear for lasting protection against chiggers and other biting bugs, like ticks and mosquitoes. It lasts up to 60 days or 6 washes, providing a more convenient alternative to help prevent insects every time you go outside.

Covering more of your exposed skin will also deter chiggers. Long pants, long sleeves, and tucking in pant legs can make a huge difference. However, this is hardly an ideal solution during the hottest days of summer. For a more effective chigger solution, consider chigger-repellent clothing

Lastly, you can work to avoid chiggers around your property by keeping up with outdoor maintenance. Mowing, weeding, and trimming remove prime nesting grounds for chiggers, as mentioned earlier, allowing you to enjoy time in your yard worry-free.

Treating Chigger Bites

Even with precautions, you could find yourself dealing with chigger bites. The first step you should take is to clean the affected area with soap and warm water to remove any chiggers still on your skin. Clean your clothes in hot water as well, as they may be hiding there.

There are plenty of over-the-counter options to treat itching and discomfort, from calamine lotion to antihistamines. Keep in mind that some of the remedies you might have heard of aren’t always true. Examples such as using nail polish or bleach simply don’t work and can, in fact, be even more harmful to your skin.

Don’t Let Chigger Season Spoil Your Fun

Chiggers are a menace, but they’re one you can deal with, given a little planning. Schedule your outings to avoid high heat and high humidity, and consider making use of proper clothing and insect repellents to help keep yourself protected.

Explore Chigger Repellent Clothing & Spray

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