- Chiggers are the larval, i.e., juvenile, a type of mite called Trombiculidae. It has multiple stages, but they feed on human skin only in the larval stage.
- Chiggers can live in your bed or furniture if they attach to a person or animal that walks by outside the house—this is how they can get transported indoors. They’ll jump on them and find an accessible area of open skin to bite.
- There are several ways to get rid of chiggers and prevent chigger bites. We’ll have a look at how to protect our skin in the paragraphs below.
Explore chiggers’ habits
If you’re scrolling the internet searching for “can chiggers live in your bed?” you may get confused.
Some experts claim it’s impossible to find chiggers in your bed because these pests need a warm body to have their meal constantly available for a couple of days at the beginning of their lifecycle.
Yet, some people find multiple itchy bites on their bodies after the night’s sleep, and there’s no trace of bed bugs, mosquitoes, fleas, or other bugs around.
So how is it really? Can we experience a chigger infestation in bed?
Let’s explore the chiggers’ lifestyle and feeding process.
Where do chiggers live?
Chiggers belong to the family Trombiculidae, order Acari, class Arachnida. Chiggers are the larval form of the Trombiculidae mite.
In the larval stage, they have six legs, adult mites have eight legs.
These tiny arachnids are less than 1/150th of an inch in size, so they are barely visible to the naked eye—you may need to use a magnifying glass to see them!
Important: The larval stage that lasts around three days is the only parasitic stage of the mite’s life cycle. Chigger mites complete one life cycle in about 2-3 months. Adult mites spend their lives in moist, grassy areas like fields, forests, lawns, lakes, and streams.
Chiggers live in the tall grass, and heavily planted areas—all the chiggers prefer damp and moist areas. Chiggers tend to stay out of the heat and direct sunlight.
Chigger larvae will feed and engorge themselves using a host’s skin, then drop it off and move to the next stage in their lifecycle.
These microscopic size bugs prefer being outdoors as there is food for adult chigger mite—decaying organic matter and insects in the soil.
In the house, besides that chigger attaches to their source of food, these bugs will search for moisture and shade. You’ll find them hiding in the gaps and cracks on the furniture, in the bed frame, seams of the beds, and couches.
Chiggers inject digestive enzymes into the skin and feed upon the decomposed tissue. Their saliva contains an enzyme that breaks down the soft portions of your skin and they drink it.
Weird as it sounds, a chigger is in need of this “liquid skin” diet to progress to the next stage of their development and become an adult mite.
These red bugs are often clustered in groups on the skin. They will bite multiple times and with many bites in the same area, so the intense itching may be unbearable.
Important: They are usually nonpathogenic but may cause pruritis.
Are chiggers harmful to humans and what happens if you leave them untreated?
Chiggers don’t feed on blood, like mosquitoes, ticks, or bed bugs, but on liquefied skin tissue. They aren’t harmful but can be very annoying.
The bite with the use of the enzyme causes welt- or circle-like reddish bumps and intense itching around the affected area that starts 1-3 hours after feeding begins.
The itching will last for two days up to a week, causing unaesthetic skin lesions. For those who develop an allergic reaction, even up to two weeks!
When chiggers bite, they rip your skin open with the use of clawlike legs and insert an appendage to put their saliva into the hole.
This feeding process combined with the damage from the bite causes severe skin inflammation a few days later, which usually doesn’t get infected unless you break the skin by itching. An average chigger bite looks like an irritated pimple.
Left untreated, chiggers will feed on liquefied skin cells for many days.
To DIY treat chigger bites immediately wash your skin and scrub with soap and water to get rid of these microscopic pests.
Can chiggers live in your bed?
It’s unlikely that chiggers live in your bed for the sake of it. This is bed bugs’ specialty!
You (or your pets) probably accidentally brought them from the outside.
Tip: Always remember to shower before you lay on your bed or go to sleep if you spend time outside in nature.
Also, you may have a chigger infestation around your home. In this case, chiggers may come through a gap or open window near your bedroom.
How to get rid of chiggers in your bed?
There are a couple of ways to prevent chiggers from getting to bite a host’s skin.
For starters, use insect repellent. You can also wear long sleeves and pants treated with a bug spray permethrin, and tuck pant legs into permethrin-treated socks.
Tip: If you use permethrin, treat your clothing one or two days in advance to allow them to dry before being worn in the wild.
After returning home from the outdoors, remove your clothing and wash it in the washer. Then, head immediately to a hot bath, and wash your skin and hair (chiggers can attach to a hair follicle) vigorously in a hot shower with hot soapy water to remove any chiggers.
To steer away from chiggers attach to your skin, avoid walking in heavy brush or tall grass and weeds.
When hiking, walk in the center of trails. This will help you avoid brushing against vegetation.
Chiggers hate essential oils.
- tea tree oil works best against ticks, chiggers, and deer flies,
- citronella, lemon, and eucalyptus are the best against mosquitoes and black flies.
Other tips to get rid of chiggers in bed:
1. Sprinkle sulfur—people often use sulfur powder repellent on insects and arachnids;
2. Use Lysol: liquid mixed with water or disinfecting wipes. It’s confirmed that Lysol kill chiggers hiding inside your home.
3. Hot washing and drying—wash and dry all your pillows and sheets in the hottest temperatures possible. You can even use bleach. The high temperatures and the water, soap, and bleach should kill and wash the chiggers away.
Tip: Cheer up! Chiggers won’t stick around in your bed for longer than a day or two, and can’t survive for long in an indoor environment.