Neither are they bed bugs.
Instead, chiggers are a particular type of mite with very painful bites that can cause dermatitis and severe redness of the skin.
Normally, chiggers are found on woodlands, golf courses, and other areas with a damp atmosphere and a low plant density.
However, many people have claimed to find several kinds of chiggers infesting their beds and bedsheets. Is this true? Can chiggers really live in your bed? Well… in this article, we’ll find out.
What Are Chiggers?
Unlike general belief, chiggers are not insects.
So, they are not related to bed bugs and other bugs in any way. Instead, chiggers are more related to spiders and ticks.
From what we know, mites from this family are quite tiny.
And they tend to live in areas with damp atmospheres, little sunlight, and low vegetation.
So, oftentimes, places like golf courses, lawns, berry bushes, and lakesides are their major colony spots. However, before these mites can survive to maturity, they need to feed on the epidermal cells of big animals.
In their lifecycle, the particular stage that’s responsible for this stage-based feeding is called Chiggers. However, it should be noted that chiggers are often confused with clover mites, which are also red in color. But then, chiggers are much smaller than clover mites.
READ MORE: 5 White Bugs That Look Like Lint.
Can Chiggers Infest Your House?
Before chiggers can think about infesting your beddings, they must first invade your home, right? Well… this, for chiggers, is quite easy.
And it all begins with the fact that chiggers need to feed on animals to stay alive till adulthood.
So, to carry out their duties, chiggers would hop onto any animal (dogs, man, birds, rabbits, and the like) that brushed through an infected region.
For humans, the most commonly infected areas where we come in contact with chigger colonies are the lawns, playgrounds, and golf courses.
In these regions, the colonies are quite localized. Because most times, chiggers tend to oviposit at defined spots.
For this reason, you may find that you have been bitten by dozens of chiggers. Whereas, your friends may walk through the same grassy path unscathed.
Now, the thing is; chiggers have something called “questing responses.”
These responses are like quick reflex actions that allow the chiggers to sense light intensity, vibration, and touch.
So, as you and possibly your friends wade through a particular infected region, the chiggers there can sense your movement.
When they do, they would quickly extend their forelegs to grab your shoes, clothes, or even your skin. Since chiggers are microscopic, you won’t notice them until you get the first bite.
Sometimes, the first bite from a cluster of chiggers can be delayed.
When this happens, it would be like the chigger is boarding a cab on your skin into your house without your knowledge. So, yes; chiggers can make their way indoors.
They do this by attaching themselves to your skin, clothing, and to the body of your pets. But remember that chiggers are the active feeding juveniles of certain species of mites. That means; they need to eat.
Unfortunately for the chiggers, blood is not on their menu.
Only skin cells are. Then again, chiggers have a very short life span.
If they don’t eat within the first 2- to 3 days, they’d die off.
As such, you can stop the chiggers from infesting your house, even if they find their way in. What you need to do is to find a way to get the chiggers off your body, clothes, pets, carpets, and pets asap.
READ MORE: 8 Bugs That Look Like Bed Bugs.
Do Chiggers Drink Our Blood?
Oftentimes, many people believe in one big misnomer that chiggers are insect vampires.
But you see, we can cite two different reasons why this belief is untrue.
For one, chiggers, as said earlier, don’t belong to the insect family at all. Instead, they are Trombiculids.
Evolutionarily, Trombiculids are more related to spiders and ticks. Ticks, as we know them, are blood-sucking ectoparasites.
But despite their relation with ticks, chiggers don’t suck blood. Instead, they prefer to dip their mouth apparatus into the skin of their hosts.
With this tool, the chiggers would secrete certain enzymes that degrade the epidermal cells of their host animal. Once the cells become liquified, the chiggers would bite off microscopic parts of the host’s skin.
Then, with the use of a funnel-like mouth structure, the chiggers would drink the epidermal cells.
Oftentimes, this biting-and-drinking process results in severe itching, redness, lesions, and even hives. So, no; chiggers don’t suck nor drink blood. Instead, chiggers drink liquified epidermal cells of their hosts.
What Attracts Chiggers to Humans?
Chiggers are attracted to areas where there is sparse vegetation, damp atmosphere, and partial sunlight.
In most cases, our lawns, gardens, playgrounds, golf courses, and even bushy backyards tend to attract chiggers.
Since humans, especially children, and gardeners frequent these places, chiggers attack our bodies and clothing. But that’s not all.
Chiggers also need animal blood to survive. So, the mere fact that humans are animals is enough attraction. However, chiggers tend to sense carbon dioxide. Every time an animal (humans as well) respire, this carbon dioxide is produced.
So, chiggers trace this and lie in ambush around shaded spots. Once an unlucky human host passes by, the chiggers would trigger their questing response. As such, they attach their forelegs to shoes, ankles, clothes, and other viable spots.
Can Chiggers Live in Your Bed?
While chiggers need your skin to survive, they would die off on your bed. So, no; chiggers cannot infest your bed. This is because chiggers are still immature. According to their evolutionary design, these chiggers need to go on a feeding rampage to make it alive.
Oftentimes, they need to drink the liquified epidermal cells of their host animal for about 3 – 4 days non-stop.
If they don’t, the chiggers would never make it to adulthood.
In humans, there’s a high chance that before they complete their feeding spree, the chiggers would get displaced from their primordial skin colony.
In most cases, this displacement can take the chiggers to other less habitable places like the human beds, couches, or even on car seats.
So, that’s how these chiggers get to come in contact with your bed. But in beds and other places mentioned earlier, the warm, damp, and cell-rich condition of the skin will become almost impossible for the chiggers to find. Again, if chiggers can’t feed, they’d die. If your bed is like a desert and a cemetery to the chiggers, then; it won’t be long before they die off.
How Long Can Chiggers Live on Couches and in Beds?
It’s established that chiggers can indeed find their way into your beds.
However, on beds and couches, the food they need is unavailable. So, the best your bed can serve to them is shelter.
But without food, the longest time chiggers can stay in your bed and couch is a day or two.
Now, let’s say somehow, the chiggers managed to hide within your bedsheets and every time you slept on it, they had the chance to feed.
After 4 days, such chiggers would have to morph into adults. Unlike the chiggers, adult mites don’t require epidermal cells to survive.
Instead, they prefer to feed on soil. Likewise, they adapt to a more different atmospheric condition from the chiggers. So, even if the chiggers survive, there’s a high chance that the adults won’t survive for long.
However, the way you keep your bed and bed clothing will determine how long chiggers can stay therein. For instance, chiggers love damp conditions.
If there’s a lot of bedwetting activity on your bed, then the chiggers only need skin cells to live. Oftentimes, if your baby or even you, sleep in the same bed, then, the chiggers would feed as planned.
The more they feed, the longer they stay in such a damp bed.
If the conditions are right, the female adults would start laying eggs in your beds.
At times, they can oviposit about 15 eggs in one day.
If the eggs hatch, then another bout of chiggers can start operation again. But that’s if you don’t pay attention to bed hygiene. If you are a neat person, then chiggers cannot survive more than 3 days.
READ MORE: 7 Natural Bed bugs predators.
Can Chiggers Lay Eggs in Your Skin?
We know that chiggers are juvenile mites.
Because they are still young, they can’t lay eggs just yet. However, some of them get to live until the adult stage if they complete their feeding period.
When they do, adult females can lay eggs. But oftentimes, they prefer to lay their eggs in moist litters, damp soils, and berry bushes.
These eggs are buried within these brooding centers. Our skin is rarely a place that can provide the sets of conditions that these brooding centers can.
How Do You Get Chiggers out of Your Skin?
Chiggers are so tiny that you will find it difficult to see them with ordinary eyes. So, the quickest way to know if you have them on your skin is through their first bites. To remove the chiggers off your skin, you can run through the following quick drill:
- Take a full body check and note the areas you see red and tiny dots.
- Wash up with bathing soaps and water. Pay close attention to the affected areas.
- If you’re not allergic to chigger bites, get an anti-itch drug from a nearby store.
- Don’t scratch the bite area.
Can Chiggers Live in Your Bed Sheets?
Yes, chiggers can survive in your bedsheets. But that’s only if your bedsheets simulate an indoor micro-habitat for the chiggers. For instance, if your bed has a high bed wetting activity or is often visited by infected pets, chiggers can reside in sheets used to protect the beds. Since you can’t see chiggers without a microscope or magnifying lens, their bites are the only signs you get of their arrival.
However, if you keep a tidy bed and wash the clothing on a regular basis, there’s a low chance that chiggers imported from outside can survive in your bedsheets. So, stay safe with cleanliness.
How Do I Know If Chiggers Are in My Bed?
Most times, many people mistake other animals like clover mites, jiggers, and bed bugs with chiggers. This is because almost all these animals can bite and suck blood. However, each one has a unique bite, habitat, and behavior. For chiggers, here’s a guide that can help you to identify whether your bed pests are chiggers or not:
- If you can see the pest causing the bite, check if it’s red in color.
- If it’s red, wear a pair of protective gloves and gather a few of them on a white placard or cardboard.
- Squish the captured pests. If you see a kind of red liquid oozing out from their carcasses, then what you have aren’t chiggers. Those are clover mites.
- If you observe nothing of such, then grab pieces of black placards and a magnifying lens.
- Position the placards and wait for about an hour.
- If you have pests on your bed, you should start noticing a few tiny, red, and fast bodies in the placards.
- Move closer and use your magnifying glass to check the body outline of the animals.
- If they are chiggers, you will notice the following:
- Reddish or orange creatures with body prickles.
- Six legs.
- About 1/60 inch in length.
So far, we’ve been able to establish that chiggers can infest your skin and can drink epidermal cells. Sometimes, when chiggers attach themselves to human skins, they get knocked off when we sleep. That way, chiggers find their way into beds, couches, and even car seats. Although without skin cells to feed on, these chiggers would die off. As such, chiggers can’t establish a surviving colony on beds and beddings.