These guys sure ruin a picnic or hike in Texas. I have had numerous interactions with them since moving to The Lone Star State and, being very allergic, their bites become weeks of required daily care and cleaning.

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First, let's clear the air on some common misconceptions regarding chiggers.

Photo by Erik Karits on Unsplash
Photo by Erik Karits on Unsplash

Chigger myths

These fellas are not actually insects, instead they're in the same class as spiders, scorpions and ticks: Arachnida.

"Chigger" actually refers to the larval stage of their six-stage life cycle. This is the only timeframe that they actually causes the irritating bites. As they grow out of their parasitic era, they move on to feed for up to three days before dropping off to digest their meal and transition to the next stage of life: protonymph.

It is often assumed that the bumps left behind from chiggers are them burrowing under your skin... (gross and not true), or the aftermath of sucking your blood like a tick. They actually aren't interested in blood at all, it's the skin cells they're after.

Preventative measures

Just like their cousin, the tick, chiggers are most likely to be found on areas of your body where fabric is tightly pressed. Ankles, waist and groin are hotspots for these hated hitchhikers.

Chiggers are most active around late spring to fall, but here's the fun part: Texas sees year-round chigger activity... The best way to avoid bites is the same protocol for ticks where full-body coverage is preferred when hiking in tall grass or other vegetation.

It may also behoove you to tuck your pantlegs into your boots when walking in such environments. Try not to sit down on the grass and change your clothes along with a quick, soapy shower once you get home.

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