It may be the year of the dog on the Chinese calendar, but here where I live in North Texas it is the year of the Chigger!
Yes I have been doing garden clean outs, installs of flower beds and water features and have come across more than my fare share of chiggers (my feet are speckled with the red marks left from the chiggers).
What can be done? Prevention / deterrence and treatment of the bites.
The chiggers tend to make their appearance when the weather is dry and hot and in areas where the landscape or fauna is undisturbed.
Prevention — Soil that has high biological activity will have less pest issues. Fertilizing with organic options will help feed the life in the soil and increase biodiversity. Dried molasses, corn meal and compost at 10 to 20 lbs per 1,000 square feet will help plant and microbe vitality. Yes this is expensive but it only needs to be done 3 or 4 times per year, spring summer fall and winter.
Orange oil can be used mixed at the rate of 1 cup to 2 gallons of water and sprayed on areas that are infested. BUT this will kill all insects that it comes into contact with so use it with caution. Coincidentally this is the same mix to use when killing fire ant mounds.
Diatomaceous earth can also be used. It can be use as a wide area broadcast or as spot treatment. Be cautious as you do not want to breath the dust as it can be an irritant. Also it will kill most insects that it comes into contact with, both beneficial and harmful.
Sulfur powder can also be used but is smelly and not recommended for use in residential areas because of that reason.
Treating the bites — There are many old wives tales of ways to treat the bites once you have them. What I find works best for me is after showering I splash the affected area with hydrogen peroxide and let it air dry. Once it is dry I liberally apply Christopher’s Complete Tissue & Bone Ointment. I get this from Amazon and use it for most cuts scrapes and bites. One caution I will give is that you do not want to use this product on a deep wound. It works so well that there is the possibility that it will cause the wound to close up and seal in an infection.
In summery organic prevention is the key to avoiding these little monsters, and natural remedies work best for healing the bites.
Have a great day!