How To Keep Chiggers Off While Hunting

In Bowhunting by Devin N.

4 chigger mites

One of the most annoying nuisances we could ever be faced with while hunting, are chiggers.  The discomfort they cause and the long-lasting itch they leave can be enough to ruin a good hunt, but because, I, myself know exactly the annoyance this can cause, I’m ready to share some helpful solutions on how you can keep chiggers off and what you can do to treat an itch if you are unfortunate enough to get attacked by a few of these little insects. Let’s get right into it. So,

How to keep chiggers off while hunting?  Apply Permanone spray to your skin and to the clothing that you will be using to hunt; making sure that the feet and leg area are being covered adequately.  Also, wear clothes that provide good coverage and not clothing that will leave the skin open and exposed to getting “bit”.

Unfortunately, most hunters do not seek advice on how to keep chiggers away until AFTER they’ve encountered these almost-microscopic pests, so let’s get more into detail about why they do what they do and what steps we can take to heal from the tiny destruction they do.

 CHIGGERS HUNT, TOO

Just like us, chiggers hunt too, but in a much different way.  Instead of hunting for meat or wildlife, they hunt for the cells that we carry instead.  They do this by using their mouths to drill very tiny holes into our skin through which they secrete special salivary enzymes designed to break down our cells from not the outside, but the inside.  They then take what’s broken down and feast on it.  Basically, we’re being hunted while hunting.  Nice.

So, contrary to popular belief, no, they aren’t biting us and they aren’t sucking our blood like tiny leeches, but nevertheless, they are still extremely annoying, so it’s only right for me to share what I know so that others also don’t have to look forward to a world full of itching and irritation.

WHERE DO THEY LIKE TO LIVE

You can typically find chiggers living in grassy fields, gardens, recreational parks, and forests.  Another area they can be found hanging out around are in moist areas such as rivers banks, lakes, river stream within the forestand streams.  One good thing, though, is that due to needing very high levels of humidity to for survival, they only like to live close to the ground.  This means that you won’t have to worry about one of these things attacking you from above while you’re hunting.

Keep in mind that chiggers do not like to bite in temperatures lower than 60° F or 15.5° C, and will not be found in areas hotter than 99° F or 37.2° C.  So, hunting in really hot or cooler conditions will be in your favor.  Most hunters only hunt during the winter, so chiggers are not an issue that people usually have to deal with.

KEEP ‘EM OFF

Permanone has shown to be very effective with keeping chiggers off of me, but just in case you don’t have any on hand, here are a few alternatives you can use as repellent as well…

1) DEET

Although this is primarily used to repel mosquitos, it has been said to work really well for repelling chiggers away as well.  The reason why this works is because just like mosquitos, DEET interferes with the neurons and antenna of a bug that detect chemicals such as lactic acid and carbon dioxide.  These two things are what help bugs know where their prey is.

2) SULFUR

Sulfur is irritating to the skin and smells really bad, so make sure you are using protection on your hands to not only prevent getting stuck smelling like rotten eggs, but so you don’t end up harming yourself in the process. 

An old remedy that I’ve found to be effective when it comes to sulfur is by getting an old sock, filling it up with the power, tying it off and then carrying it around while on your hunt.  Not only has this been useful for fellow hunters, but for treating bug infested gardens as well.

I have not found any hard evidence as to why it repels chiggers (probably the smell), but it is said to be really effective.

3) PERMETHRIN

The difference between Permethrin and other repellents I’ve listed is that it is an insecticide and instead of repelling, it is used to kill.  When mixed with chemical sprays such as DEET and Picaridin, the results can be amazing and can work REALLY effectively when used to keep chiggers, amongst other bugs, off of you.   

4) PANTY HOSE

No, this is not a joke… this is a real remedy.  Wearing panty hose underneath your pants is said to be effective because of the fact that chiggers are unable to get past the specific type of material that they are made out of.  If you’re a guy, I recommend putting a normal pair of underwear on first and then putting these over.  Also, to avoid getting laughed at…. not telling anyone.

5) VINEGAR

I have not tried this method, but spraying your clothes with white distilled vinegar before hunting is also said to work well with keeping chiggers off.

Another thing you can do to keep them off will be to wear long, tight-fitting clothing such as a long-sleeved shirt, jeans tucked into long socks, high hunting boots, and hunting gloves, or, depending on how long your hunt is, by taking a shower immediately after you been hunting and feel like there’s a chance that you may have been exposed to them.

Also, there are many more home remedies that have worked for others, but these top 5 are what I’ve found to work the best in my personal experience.

SATISFY THE ITCH

Bag of baking sodaThe itch is probably the absolute worst itch you can experience from any other bug.  Between the rash and the non-stop itch that makes you want to dig your nails into your skin until you bleed,  this is probably what takes the cake.

Just in case you’re reading this after you were exposed to these things and were unable to try any of the remedies listed above, here are some more home remedies you can follow to make sure you can get some relief and never have to deal with this again…

1) BAKING SODA

From the beginning of time, baking soda has always been a natural remedy to treat many things, and one of these things are rashes and itchiness.  Not only does it act as an acid neutralizer that provides alleviation from itching, but to help minimize the risk of infection as well.

Adding 1 cup of baking soda into cool bath water and then soaking in it for 15-20 minutes can help give you the relief that I know you need.

2) ORAJEL

I don’t know why, but this particular remedy is a shocker to me.  I would have never thought gel used for tooth relief would be effective for itching relief.  Applying a small amount on areas affected, though, can give some temporary relief.

3) ASPIRIN

Taking a few Aspirin, mashing them up, mixing with water, and then applying to your itch as a kind of a paste has said to relieve the itching immediately.  I have not tried this for past bug bites, but will now be adding this to my arsenal next time that I do.

4) SCOTCH TAPE

Two advantages to using this particular method are that not only does it seal the itch off from the air, but also prevents you from scratching it and making it worse.  Not being able to itch sounds very unpleasant, but there are people who have used scotch tape and swear that it works.

5) LEMON JUICE

Astringent properties used to treat acne and overall tone your skin can also be used to relieve itching.  Most people have lemon juice in their fridge, so that alone gives this an advantage. 

6) ITCH CREAM

If all else fails and you feel that the itch is too strong to be managed by an at-home remedy, then the next thing recommended is to use anti-itch creams such as hydrocortisone or calamine lotion.  My bites have not been bad enough to the point to where I had to use creams, but everyone is different.

HOW LONG DOES A CHIGGER BITE LASTMan with chigger bites on back

How long does a chigger bite last? The itching can persist for several days, while resolutions of skin lesions can last up to two additional weeks after the itching has gone away.

The reason chigger bites itch is because of the presence of Stylostome, a variously shaped tube formed of solidified mite saliva that extends from the mouthparts of the parasite through the epidermis into the dermis of the host.  There is more in-depth detail regarding the process they use when finding a host, but this is pretty much the gist of what they do to our skin when we are exposed to them.  Of course, it is natural to think that this is caused by an actual bite because of the itching and bumps that occur afterwards, but weirdly enough, it is not.

If you have any other methods that you use for treating or preventing chigger bites that I didn’t mention, leave them in the comment section below!