This summer I received a frantic call from a customer who thought his steps and sidewalk were being invaded by chiggers (sometimes called red bugs). After listening to some more details I was able to diagnose over the phone that it was not chiggers but clover mites. Let’s go over the distinctive characteristics of the two.
The adult chigger is .4mm long. This is too small to be seen by the naked eye for most people. A clover mite is closer to 1mm and can be seen, especially when they are moving around.
Chiggers are most commonly found in brush thickets, blackberry patches, and the margins at the edge of a wooded area. Clover mites are most commonly seen on sidewalks, stone or concrete walls, and the exteriors of houses on warm sunny days.
Contrary to popular belief, chiggers do not burrow into your skin, nor do they suck blood. What does happen is that the chigger larvae will attach themselves to the base of a hair on a human or other animal and inject the surrounding skin with a digestive fluid that breaks down the skin cells in order that the chigger can then eat it. This causes a painful skin reaction that forms a red, hard, raised area, which when scratched makes it even more painful. This itching may last up to two weeks. Clover mites are generally harmless to humans, though when mashed can leave a red spot that may stain fabric.
Mosquito repellent containing DEET will keep away chiggers. Another alternative would be to immediately take a shower that includes a lot of scrubbing after spending time in a likely chigger infested area.Bee Good!