It’s spring in Texas. The winter slumber is now over for all of Mother Nature’s critters including everyone’s favorite parasite, the CHIGGER! Also known as a red bug, berry bugs, harvest mites, scrub-itch mites, and those low life, belly crawling, pond scum sucking………. Chiggers are such an irritant that the US Army has a fact sheet on them. For us homeowners, the best defense is a good offense. Chiggers come into our environment from wildlife including birds, mammals, and reptiles. They also like an undisturbed environment. Start by disturbing their environment. Keep your lawn mowed, watered, and fertilized on a regular basis. In other words, maintain your lawn. The next step is trying to control the wildlife in the yard. This means taking down the bird feeder for a month or two.
Applying sulfur to the yard is the most common all-natural method for chigger control. Sulfur is a repellant, not a killer and because chiggers live in clusters, sulfur must be applied heavily. Light applications just spread out the problem. Powder sulfur is more effective than the granulated but does not last as long and is a mess to apply. Putting powder sulfur in a sock and dusting yourself is another method. You need to apply the sulfur everywhere you don’t want to get bit! This same methodology applies to the lawn. The rule of thumb is a 50-pound bag of granulated sulfur should cover 2,500 square feet and lasts about three weeks depending on the weather. A 50-pound bag of powder will cover about one acre and last until it gets wet.
There is another all-natural product called Yardsafe from the Cedarcide folks. This high concentration cedar oil product is in a ready-to-use quart that will cover about 2,000 square feet for the initial application. Repeat application in 7 to 10 days. This will kill the existing chiggers and will keep them out for several weeks depending on the weather.
There are also quite a few choices on the chemical side in both liquid and granulated. A good rule of thumb is to pick products with an active ingredient that ends with the suffix, “thrin”. Some of the most common are bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, and permethrin. My favorite product, lambda-cyhalothrin, is the active ingredient in Cyonara. This quart will cover about 8,000 square feet.
Prepare yourself if you venture into woods and pastures during chigger season. The aforementioned sulfur sock, Chigg Away, Tick Shield, and Cedarcide’s Original work very well. As always please read and follow all label directions.