Chiggers in Washington State
Chiggers in Washington State!
Washington State has a wide array of wildlife, including plenty of areas for hiking, camping, and backpacking. Unfortunately, one of the hazards of these outdoor activities is that of chiggers. Although chiggers are not dangerous, they can be an annoying pest when out enjoying nature.
What are Chiggers?
Chiggers are the juvenile form of a certain group of mites. These pests usually come out in the warmer months and can be found in areas with dense vegetation such as grasses, weeds, and bushes. They feed on the skin cells of humans and animals, leaving behind a mild irritation.
How to Avoid Chiggers
There are a few precautions you can take when out in nature in order to avoid painful encounters with chiggers:
- Wear adequate clothing: Long-sleeved shirts and pants provide extra protection against chiggers, which can’t go through thick fabric.
- Use insect repellents: DEET and permethrin-based repellents can be used both on your skin and clothing to keep chiggers away.
- Stay in open areas: It’s easier to avoid chiggers by walking through open areas with less bush and grass around.
- Shower and clean clothes: Chiggers can remain on the skin for hours, so showering and washing clothes shortly after coming in from the outdoors can help remove any chiggers that might have settled in.
Treating Chigger Bites
If you do end up getting bit by chiggers, you should treat the bite as soon as possible. Over-the-counter anti-itch ointments and calamine lotion can help reduce inflammation and itching. If the itching persists, you can also take oral antihistamines such as Benadryl to reduce the itching. In rare cases, the itching may become more severe and you should visit a doctor.
In Washington State, chiggers are an unavoidable part of outdoor activities. However, with some knowledge and preventive measures, you can reduce your chances of getting bitten by these tiny critters.
Chiggers are a widespread insect found in the Pacific Coast region of the United States, including Washington State. Commonly known as red bugs due to the bright red hue of their bodies, chigger bites can cause a great deal of irritation and discomfort. Chiggers are especially prevalent during the summer months due to the warm, humid climate that Washington State enjoys.
Chiggers are a member of the mite family, belonging to a group of insects known as Trombiculid mites. In the larval stage of their life cycle, adult chiggers measure only a few millimeters in size, while adult specimens grow to measure up to 1/10 of an inch in height. Despite their small size, they can be incredibly irritating when encountered due to their bite.
Chiggers feed on organic matter including human skin cells and can leave behind an itchy rash that can last for several days or weeks. In extreme cases, those affected may experience severe itching and inflammation, or even infections caused by scratching open the skin to the point of breaking it. In order to protect yourself from chigger bites, it’s important to avoid contact with areas known to be populated by them.
When present in large numbers, chiggers can cause considerable damage to grass and other vegetation. Chiggers also act as vectors for bacteria, protozoa, and viruses, capable of transmitting these pathogens to humans.
Chiggers are an unavoidable part of life in Washington State during the summer months, but knowing how to spot them and how to protect oneself can make the experience infinitely more pleasant. By wearing protective clothing and avoiding areas known to be populated by chiggers, Washington State residents can enjoy the warm weather without fear of the pesky red bugs.
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