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Agent shares tips on preventing chigger bites
North Carolina Cooperative Extension News

Agent shares tips on preventing chigger bites

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Picking blackberries, going on picnics, hikes, camping trips and fishing on a river bank are all great activities for the summer, and harmless, so you think. But, there’s an almost invisible danger out there just waiting for the oblivious nature lover.

Meet the chigger — a tiny, eight-legged mite that will quietly attach itself to your skin and cause misery for up to three weeks.

Chiggers live in tall weeds and grasses, blackberry thickets and wooded areas. It’s the larva of the chigger that bites humans. Each larva has claws that it uses to attach itself to the skin when someone brushes up against vegetation. Itching can start within a few hours and last for up to three weeks.

Contrary to popular beliefs, chiggers don’t burrow under the skin. Using products such as clear nail polish to smother the mites doesn’t work. Antiseptics should be used, and anti-itch products are helpful. If exposure is suspected, an immediate hot shower is suggested.

The use of insect repellents can help prevent chigger bites. Apply to shoe tops, cuffs, neck openings and waistbands. Also, when picking blackberries, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks are recommended, with pants legs tucked into the socks.

When hiking, stay in the middle of the trail and refrain from sitting on fallen logs.

Donna Teasley is an Extension agent specializing in consumer horticulture for Burke County. Contact her at 828-764-9480 or The N.C. Cooperative Extension — Burke County Center is at 130 Ammons Drive, Suite 2, in Morganton. For information, visit

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