Hot and humid — perfect weather for chiggers.
The tiny creatures are lurking in grass and plants, eager to feed on the skin of humans and pets.
“Any time during the day, the chiggers are waiting and ready to feed,” said Ludek Zurek, Kansas State University associate professor of medical entomology. “When people do get chiggers, it’s not one. It’s usually a relatively large number of them.”
The number could be something like 50.
Chiggers don’t fly or drop out of trees; they climb.
“They get attached to somebody’s legs and then they can climb up,” Zurek said, adding they like sweaty areas. And what one likes, the others are sure to also like.
The chiggers feed for only one day and then drop off. They are not dangerous and do not transmit diseases.
The best prevention is to use a DEET-based repellent and stay out of areas prone to chiggers when outdoors. Once inside, take a hot, soapy shower.
If bitten, use creams with antihistamines and calamine lotion. If people develop a severe allergic reaction, they should seek medical help.
Lawrence resident Kim Crotchett’s 2-year-old son Keaton woke up Friday night crying and itching. He had red spots all over his diaper area and under his armpits. He had two swollen lymph nodes on the base of his skull.
Crotchett thought that perhaps it was an allergic reaction to his diapers. The next morning, the doctor said he had gotten into a batch of chiggers and mosquitoes.
“I was completely shocked,” she said, adding that her son had been outside for only about 20 minutes. After taking medicine, he is doing fine.
Dr. Tom Liebl, of Clinton Parkway Animal Hospital, said chigger bites are also common among dogs and some cats this time of year. Chiggers often leave a red rash on a dog’s abdomen, inner thighs and between toes, spots where there’s not much hair. A dog’s reaction can vary.
“A lot of those patients — there is just no itch at all,” Liebl said. “I mean they have these very unsightly rashes, but the dog seems to be fairly comfortable with it.”
The best treatment is to use flea shampoo and spray. He also recommended applying insect control on the lawn.