Some of you perhaps mistook chiggers as insects. They are not. These small animals belong to the mite family and have a close relation to ticks and spiders instead. So, what do chiggers look like? That is the question.
Before describing them, you must know the basic information first. Simply said, chigger is a kind of mite that causes irritations on the skin due to bites. They are a parasite, indeed.
Targets and Habitats
Their target varies, from grasshoppers, mammals, turtles, birds, snakes, to even humans. You can find them easily in grassy or brushy areas. They also live in where small rodents are many.
If you have a house that resides in humid and shady areas, you have the risk to be infected by them, for sure. Many chiggers also hang around stream banks.
Chiggers’ Physical Appearance
To know better about the animal, you can simply read and imagine their appearance. The simplest way to describe chiggers is to compare them with a pincushion. The only difference is that they have legs and smaller.
The size is quite tiny. No wonder, people can barely see this animal. According to experts, the size of chiggers is about a quarter of millimeter!
For the information, there are several types of mites. Each of them usually chooses a different target. Despite the difference, they have the same six legs. As for the color, it varies. It can be dark yellow, orange, red, light yellow, or others.
There is the most common type, though. Their name is harvest chiggers and they have eight legs instead of six, which is similar to a spider. However, during the juveniles, they only have six legs.
Developmental Stages (Life Cycle)
Chiggers experience four developmental stages. From eggs, chiggers would turn into a larva. Next, they become nymph before turning into an adult. When growing, they shed their skin; we call it molting.
During their nymph stage, they enter a special stage called pre-adult or imagochrysalis. This quiescent stage is harmless to prey. However, once they approach the adult stage, they become troublesome!
Besides, in the nymph stage, they feed on eggs of soil organism.
One thing that makes chiggers harmful is their bite. What does it look like? For the information, the shape of the bite appears differently from one person to others. Why is that?
The prime reason is the reaction. People would react differently when chiggers bite them. Therefore, this leads to different shape of bites. Some will not swell much, while others would get big ones!
How Do They Attack?
After learning about chiggers’ appearance and their troublesome biting behavior, you need to know regarding their attack. How do they burrow under the skin? That is the real question.
Chiggers move from their habitats to humans’ skin through several areas. The most common spots are collars, shirtsleeves, pant cuffs, and others. The purpose of this migration is indeed to look for better feeding places.
The rumor has it. Chiggers burrow under the skin and remain inside! Fortunately, it is not true. They only inject the skin with certain enzymes. Later, it causes hardening to the skin.
Here is the problem. They can feed for a few days when they are not disturbed! Their favorite spots are groin areas, ankles, folds, wrinkles, armpits, behind knees, and other similar places.
Chiggers Are a Common Issue
Chiggers not only become a problem for humans but also other living beings. For instance, they often attack pets, including cats and dogs. These animals are prone to chiggers’ infestation!
When you walk outside along with your cats or dogs, pay attention to some humid and shady areas where chiggers often live. It is also recommended to bathe them after arriving at home.
Are They Beneficial?
Even though chiggers are notorious, they play an important role in the ecosystem. When growing up to reach an adult stage, they eat lots of soil organism or invertebrates.
Without their presence during the nymph stage, humans would have a forest ecosystem and food problems. What you can do is only to minimize the risk of being infected.
The simplest effort is to put protections like wearing long sleeve shirts, socks, long pants, and other covers when going out. Somehow, applying insect repellent is also effective.
Even though chiggers are a troublesome living thing, they help to balance the ecosystem. In the wild, you can find them in grasses and bushy vegetations. Also, you need to keep an eye in shady and humid spots.
Chiggers move from vegetation to human skins by physical contact. After that, they feed freely until they die! What a wearisome animal! Not to mention they undergo several developmental stages.
It is difficult to see chiggers plainly due to their tiny size. What you may notice is only the spots of biting. These swell differently based on how you react to the itchy sensation.
So, what do chiggers look like? They appear like a tiny spider, even though their legs are lesser.