Photo By Agricultural Research Service / Public Domain

The Bug with a Thousand Names and a Common Misconception

Chigger using its stylostome to eat degraded skin cells. Photo By  BugBoy52.40  / Public Domain

Chigger using its stylostome to eat degraded skin cells. Photo By BugBoy52.40 / Public Domain

Ok... well maybe it doesn't have a thousand names, but it certainly does have quite a few! Known as Trombiculidae, Berry Bugs, Harvest Mites, Red Bugs, Scrub-Itch Mites, Chiggers, and Aoutas, these bugs are all over the the United States, and even most of the World! Although they have so many different names, they are most commonly known as chiggers across the world. Chiggers like to live in forests and grasslands and are also found in areas with very low vegetation. They love being near water, especially lakes or streams! Although they like moist environments, they are also commonly found in drier places such as peoples lawns, golf courses, and parks. Essentially, chiggers are found everywhere! Which is what makes them such a pesky bug to deal with. They are most active in the summers, as this is the time of year when there are so many of them. Surprisingly not all chiggers bite, even though it seems like every one does. Only chiggers when they are in their larvae stage bite. They will attach to animals and, as we all know, humans to feed on their skin. This larvae stage is the only stage of the chiggers life where they will actually bite people and cause that terrible itching. Chiggers attach to the host animal or human and feed off of the skin. This is where the common misconception comes in. Many people believe that chiggers dig into your skin and live under your skin! Some people believe they dig under your skin, live under it, and eat your blood and that is what causes that terrible itching pain! This could not be farther from the truth. They do not live under your skin, and they do not suck your blood like a vampire. When chiggers find a human or animal they want to feast on, they do a number of things, one of which is NOT burying under the skin. They will jump onto the host and pierce the skin. Once they penetrate the skin with their sharp jaw, they inject an enzyme into it that will begin to break down the skin tissue. This enzyme breaks the solid skin down into a liquid that the chigger can eat. The chigger then lowers a tube that is made of hardened skin cells, called a stylostome. This tube acts like a straw, and sucks up the liquified skin that the enzymes from the chigger has just broken down. Again, they do NOT burry into the skin, or suck blood like a tick. Just like we discussed in our blog about mosquitos, the enzyme they place in their host is what ends up causing the itching. The red bump that occurs after being bitten also has a common misconception that is very far from the truth. Some people believe that the red bump is where the chigger has laid its eggs inside of them. Again, this is not true. If not found and knocked off, chiggers will sometimes stay on their host for up to 5 days! 

If you have any problems with Chiggers, Certified Pest Control can be the answer! If you have any questions about chiggers, how we can service your home for chiggers, or any of our other services you can click the button below to get in touch!

Source: "Extatosoma Tiaratum.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 June 2018,