The best ways to avoid problems with chiggers are to take protective measures while hiking, camping, picking berries, or other outdoor activities. There are a few things that you can do to minimize problems with chiggers in your landscape. Here are a few ways to manage chiggers as found in the University of Kentucky publication "Chiggers" (ENTFACTS-630). The full publication can be found at http://www2.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef630.asp.
PREVENTING CHIGGERS IN THE HOME-LANDSCAPE
While most common in wild overgrowth, chiggers may become established in yards, parks, camps, picnic sites, and recreation areas. Effective vegetation management can make these locations less suitable for chiggers and may greatly reduce infestations. Pruning of trees and bushes and closer mowing allows more sunlight into an area and lowers humidity. Removal of scrub brush piles and accumulated debris reduces protection for small mammals and other animals that are important hosts for chiggers. These environmental modifications produce conditions that are less suitable for chiggers and can provide a more long term solution.
Insecticide sprays may temporarily reduce chiggers but, used alone, are not a long term solution. They are most effective when directed into "hot spots" where chiggers and their animal hosts are known to be abundant. Pay particular attention to borders and fences between wooded or brush areas and the lawn, around ornamental plantings, beside foot paths, and the dog house. Products containing bifenthrin (Ortho Home Defense MAX), carbaryl (Sevin), cyhalothrin (Spectracide Bug Stop Indoor + Outdoor Insecticide), and permethrin (various brands) can be effective. A single application during late-April or May is often all that is required, although in severe infestations, treatment may need to be repeated in June. The ground and vegetation up to a height of about three feet should be thoroughly wetted with the insecticide and applied according to label instructions. Children and pets should be kept off treated areas until the vegetation is completely dry.
When using insecticides, ALWAYS APPLY ACCORDING TO THE LABEL DIRECTIONS!
PERSONAL PROTECTION DURING OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
1. Avoid walking through unmowed fields, brush, and other overgrown areas. Instead, walk in the center of mowed trails to avoid brushing up against vegetation where chiggers congregate.
2. When hiking or camping in potentially chigger-infested areas, wear long pants that are tucked into boots or socks and long sleeve shirts. Clothing made of tightly woven fabrics will tend to keep chiggers from reaching the skin as easily.
3. Apply an insect or tick repellent. Products containing diethyl toluamide (DEET) or permethrin (clothing treatment only) are most effective. Be sure to read and follow directions for use on the container.
4. Showering or bathing immediately after coming indoors effectively removes chiggers which have not yet attached. If that is not possible, thoroughly and briskly rubbing your skin with a dry towel may remove many chiggers before they are able to attach and feed.
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