It’s spring and soon the blackflies and mosquitoes will be out and biting Tincture of iodine applied while a mosquito bite is still fresh can neutralize the itching–I wonder if it would help with other bites, and whether it’s the iodine or just the alcohol that’s helping. I don’t think I’ve ever had a chigger bite. Black flies slash rather than sucking. Some of their bites hurt and some can’t be felt. They’re worse than mosquitoes, and relentless. And small. They look like tiny, burly houseflies. Or largish, burly black fruit flies. They are the reason the bug jacket was invented.
That made me wonder if we had the itchiest biter of all, the chigger. I found the Missouri chiggers page. Chiggers, it says, are bright orange-red, fast-moving, larval tick-like objects. I’ve seen something like that, but I thought they were bird lice.
Regular mosquitoes repellents will repel chiggers. All brands are equally effective. Applying these products to exposed skin and around the edge of openings in your clothes, such as cuffs, waistbands, shirt fronts and boot tops, will force chiggers to cross the treated line get inside your clothes.
Unfortunately these repellents are only potent for two to three hours and must be reapplied frequently.
By far, the most effective and time proven repellent for chiggers is sulphur. Chiggers hate sulphur and definitely avoid it. Powdered sulphur, called sublimed sulphur or flowers of sulfur, is available through most pharmacies. Dust the powdered sulphur around the opening of your pants, socks and boots. If you plan to venture into a heavily infested area, powdered sulphur can be rubbed over the skin on your legs, arms and waist. Some people rub on a mixture of half talcum powder and half sulphur.
But a word of warning: sulphur has a strong odor. The combination of sulfur and sweat will make you unpleasant company for anyone who has not had the same treatment. Sulphur is also irritating to the skin of some people. If you have not used sulphur before, try it on a small area of your skin first.
Chiggers bite us only incidentally in N. America; their hosts are other species. It may take them an hour or more to settle on a place to bite, so a bath with warm, soapy water can remove them before they get around to it. They suggest a few things for the itching.