How to Get Rid of Chiggers

How to Sample and Control Chiggers in Your Yard

Chigger under magnification.
Chigger mite. Getty Images/Lester V. Bergman

Chiggers measure a mere 1/150th of an inch, and so are nearly impossible to see with the human eye. But there is an easy way to sample your yard for chiggers, if you're concerned about a possible chigger mite infestation. Be sure, of course, to wear appropriate clothing and repellent whenever you walk through an area that may have chiggers.

How to Know If You've Got Chiggers in Your Yard

Your first step, of course, should be confirming that you have a chigger infestation in your yard.

If you've experienced the incessant itching of chigger bites after spending time outdoors, you'll know it. But if you aren't sure whether you've got chiggers or not, you can do a quick sampling test to confirm the offending pests are, indeed, chiggers.

Chiggers prefer moist, shady areas with thick vegetation, so focus your sampling efforts on these places in your yard. Don't bother sampling for chiggers in areas that get full sun, or where you keep the lawn mowed short.

To sample your yard for chiggers, you'll need one or more squares of black cardboard, each about 6 inches by 6 inches. Stand the cardboard squares on edge in areas where you suspect chiggers may be. Leave the squares in place for several minutes.

Look closely at the cardboard once you've left it for a few minutes. If chiggers are present, they will climb up the cardboard and gather near the top. The chiggers will be tiny, and either red or yellow in color.

To Get Rid of Chiggers, Get Rid of Chigger Habitat

If you find a heavy infestation of chiggers in an area of your yard, you should take steps to eliminate them. You'll definitely want to avoid walking through those areas of your yard. The best method to control chiggers is to eliminate their habitat on your property.

Widespread use of pesticides to get rid of chiggers is rarely required or recommended.

Again, most chiggers prefer moist, shady areas with thick vegetation. Some species do like dry areas, so keep that in mind. Prime chigger habitat includes overgrown lawns, ground covers, leaf litter, weedy areas, and densely planted shrubs or trees. Chiggers tend to cluster in certain areas, since the small females lay their eggs in one location. You many find an abundance of chiggers in one area, and a complete lack of chiggers in an equally suitable area nearby.

So how do you get rid of chiggers in your yard? Maintain a neat and tidy landscape, specifically:

  • Mow your lawn regularly and keep it short, especially around the edges where the grass meets landscape beds or woody areas.
  • Keep landscape beds weeded and remove accumulated leaf litter.
  • Trim and prune landscape plants regularly to keep them from becoming overgrown.
  • Remove brush piles from your property.
  • Because chiggers avoid sunny areas, eliminating shade in your yard can reduce chigger populations.

If you feel you must treat your property for chiggers with pesticides, please be sure to do so responsibly and safely:

  • Only treat areas of your yard where chiggers are confirmed to live.
  • Don't overuse pesticides by treating your entire lawn or yard.
  • Keep in mind that chigger control usually requires multiple applications of pesticides during the spring.
  • Keep children and pets off treated areas until it has dried completely. Don't allow animals to eat treated plants.
  • Contact your local cooperative extension office to get information about which pesticides work best for chiggers in your area, and how to safely apply them.
  • Always follow all directions on pesticide labels. Remember, the label is the law!