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JANUARY 07 2020 / LAWN
How Many times have you been sitting outside enjoying the crisp spring weather and out of the corner of your eye…you spot a tiny, red dot scurry across your hand? CHIGGER!! Did you quickly squish it and a reddish-orange streak appear? BLOOD!!
Well, that happened to me while writing the carpenter bee blog! I quickly ran inside and informed our Pest Leader that we had CHIGGERS living in our patio area! He asked me a series of questions about color, size, and movement. He identified them as clover mites. I was skeptical, you mean to tell me that I have grown up thinking these little red bugs were blood-sucking chiggers? He showed me a comparison of the two and they were indeed not chiggers. Needless to say, my world was rocked because not only did I learn about a new bug, but I was informed of some myths surrounding chiggers.
Often mistaken for one other as they are both small red mites, there are distinct differences. Clover mites are visible to the naked eye about a millimeter in size, and commonly found scurrying around on concrete, patio furniture, or the exterior of your home. Chiggers are VERY small, less than a millimeter in size, therefore difficult to impossible to see. To make chiggers even less noticed by humans or other animals, chiggers tend to reside in wooded areas.
As the name suggests clover mites love to eat the sap from clovers and we may not have a problem with these creatures if they just consumed clovers; however, they feed on almost anything green and even some flowers. With the start of spring, your newly fertilized and greening lawn is a prime meal. A sudden change in weather or habitat can send them indoors. When squished they can leave a reddish stain (it isn't blood)!
As a homeowner, you can prevent clover mites by properly sealing any entry points and keeping certain clover mites attracting plants away from your home. You can also have a professional service to treat your lawn. If you find your home has been invaded by these little guys, contact a professional. Crushing them should be avoided as they can leave a stain, instead consider gently vacuuming them up with the use of the hose attachment.
Now, this next part is going to shock you, chiggers DO NOT suck your blood or burrow under your skin. Chiggers hang around the woods waiting to fall on their next meal. Once attached the chigger will inject a fluid, breaking down the skin cells to consume. These bites can be very itchy and last up to 2 weeks. A great preventative is using a repellent containing DEET, and take a shower after being exposed to them.