How Does a Chigger Live?

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Eggs are laid.

  • Adult female chiggers will find a sheltered place to lay their eggs in the early spring, typically where vegetation is heavy and the area is damp. The ground temperature needs to be at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit on a regular basis in order for them to lay their eggs. They can lay up to 15 eggs per day. The eggs will produce six legged, parasitic larvae. It is the larvae that feed on flesh, not the adults.

A host body is found.

  • Chiggers are very active insects. Constantly on the move, they will move toward any new object that is placed in their environment. So any animals in their environment have an excellent chance of becoming their new host. Upon finding a new host, the chiggers will crawl around for some time before sitting down to dinner. They typically prefer to feed on small birds, reptiles or amphibians, rather than humans. It is purely accidental when a chigger uses a human as its host; in those cases, they prefer to feed on human flesh that is thin, tender or wrinkled. Ankles, wasitlines, knees and armpits can be excellent feeding grounds.

Dinner is served.

  • A young chigger will attach itself to an animal's skin, hair follicles or pores by inserting its piercing mouthparts into it. The mouthparts tend to be thin and delicate, so it doesn't take much to break the attachment. During feeding, the chigger will inject a digestive enzyme into the skin to dissolve the tissue. It is this liquified tissue that the chigger will feed on. Contrary to popular belief, chiggers do not burrow into skin or suck blood. They simply eat your flesh, which is the cause for the red welts on your skin after being bitten. Feeding can take place for as long as three to four days.

Growing up is hard to do.

  • Once the larva has engorged itself, it will drop from its host and be transformed into the nymphal stage, in which it will add two more legs to its body. Nymph and adult chiggers tend to feed on insect eggs and other insects. The life stage of a chigger can last from one month to one year.

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