What do Florida chiggers look like?

Answered by Phillip Nicastro

Florida chiggers, also known as harvest mites, are small arachnids that belong to the Trombiculidae family. These tiny creatures are typically about 1/20-inch (1.3-mm) long and have a bright red color. They are often difficult to see with the naked eye due to their small size, but their presence can be felt through the intense itching and irritation they cause.

The body of a Florida chigger is covered in fine hairs, giving it a hairy appearance. This hair helps them to attach themselves to their hosts, which can include humans, pets, and other animals. Despite their name, chiggers are not actually insects but are rather mites in their larval stage.

Chiggers go through four stages of development: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. It is the larval stage that is responsible for causing the most discomfort to humans. The larvae have six legs and are the ones that attach themselves to the skin and feed on the host’s tissues.

Adult chiggers, on the other hand, have eight legs and are less likely to cause irritation to humans. They primarily feed on insect eggs, small insects, or other organisms. Adult chiggers typically overwinter in protected places and become active in the spring. However, in South Florida, where the climate is warmer, they may be active throughout the year.

Encountering chiggers can be a frustrating experience due to the intense itching and discomfort they cause. It is important to note that chiggers are most commonly found in areas with tall grass, weeds, and dense vegetation. When venturing into such environments, it is advisable to take precautions to minimize the risk of chigger bites.

Wearing long pants, long sleeves, and closed-toe shoes can help reduce the exposure of skin to potential chigger-infested areas. Applying insect repellents that contain DEET or permethrin can also act as a deterrent. Additionally, taking a shower and washing clothes immediately after spending time in chigger-prone areas can help remove any attached chiggers before they have a chance to cause irritation.

Florida chiggers are small, bright red arachnids that are about 1/20-inch (1.3-mm) long. They have a hairy body and go through different stages of development, with the larval stage being the most problematic for humans. Chiggers are known to cause intense itching and irritation. By taking precautions and being aware of their habitats, you can minimize the risk of encountering these pesky creatures.