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Archive for Monday, August 13, 2012

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Fix-It Chick: Control chiggers naturally

August 13, 2012

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Trombiculidae, commonly known as chiggers, are tiny, microscopic red mites whose larvae feed on skin cells before dropping to the ground and molting into nonparasitic adult nymphs.

Chiggers are best known for the relentlessly itchy welts they leave behind on arms, legs and torsos where clothing binds or soft, tender skin can be found.

These annoying pests can be somewhat controlled with traditional insecticides, but there are several nonchemical treatments that work very well.

Step 1: Mow lawns and weed garden beds regularly to help reduce chigger populations.

Chiggers prefer humid, shady areas and tend to be found in or beneath shrubs, trees, tall grasses and weedy areas.

Step 2: Avoid exposing any skin to chiggers and other pest by wearing tight-fitting, long-sleeve shirts and pants tucked into socks when working outdoors.

Step 3: Treat yards and landscaped areas with powdered sulfur for a safe alternative to traditional insecticides. Poke several holes into the bottom and sides of a sulfur-filled bag, and shake the sulfur out onto grasses and beneath vegetation where chiggers might be present.

Step 4: When spreading sulfur is not a good option, spray shrubs, trees and other garden areas with insecticidal soap. For effective homemade insecticidal soap, dissolve 1/4 of a bar of Fels-Naptha laundry soap into one quart of hot water and store in a properly labeled container. It is best to grate or shave the soap before dissolving. Mix 1 teaspoon of this concentrated soap mixture with 1 quart of water, and spray vegetation with a garden sprayer to eliminate mites, aphids and other garden pests.

Step 5: Hit ankles and calves several times with a sulfur-filled sock before heading out into chigger territory.

Step 6: After spending time outdoors, shower or bathe immediately with warm soapy water to rinse chiggers away before they have a chance to attach. If bathing is not an option, rubbing skin briskly with a dry towel will often prevent chigger bites.

Step 7: Sooth the itching of annoying chigger bites with calamine lotion; essential oils such as lavender, thyme, sage or tea tree oil; or better yet, cover bites with a dollop of Homestead Ranch Rosemary Goat Milk Hand & Body Cream.

— Linda Cottin can be reached at go@ljworld.com.

Comments

lounger 1 year, 8 months ago

Im sure this list is helpful but number two will get you in trouble! I wear loose fitting clothes and shorts with no socks when traveling in thick brush The key is to wash off with just water every twenty minutes. Ankles and waistlines especially! If you are methodical by washing off with water it will keep 99 percent of chiggers off of your body. Natives knew this and still practice it today. If you wear tight fitting clothes the chiggers will get under your clothes and start there nasty business by hitching a ride on your inner pants. I know its hard to accept wearing shorts in brush but it has been done this way for thousands of years. If you don't have a water source available use a wet wash cloth. The hard part is remembering that its got to be around twenty minutes to a half hour without fail! Crocks are ugly shoes but helpful because they can be washed off every time as well and be dry within minutes.

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