Chiggers are tiny, immature mites with an intensely irritating bite. They thrive in moist, grassy, humid areas and often latch on to the skin of hikers, where they may feed for up to three days before falling away. Fortunately, chiggers can’t survive indoors, so there’s no chance of them living in your bed.
Chiggers can’t complete their life cycle or breed indoors so, even if you do accidentally bring a few home with you, they won’t stick around in your house for long.
What are chiggers?
Chiggers are the immature life stage of certain mites in the Trombiculidae family. These tiny arachnids are found in overgrown, grassy environments around the world and are especially common in shady, humid environments.
Chiggers may be small, but their bites are extremely noticeable. They have claws that help them cling to warm, moist patches of skin and they inject saliva with each bite. This saliva contains digestive enzymes that liquefy skin cells, causing intense itching.
Chigger bites usually cause a rash of reddish bumps that may look like welts, hives, pimples or blisters, and are most common around the ankles, waist, crotch, or backs of the knees.
Once a chigger has latched on to feed, it may stay attached to your skin for days before dropping away. This means there’s a good chance you could carry the bugs home with you, but can they survive in your bedroom?
Can chiggers live in your bed?
Short answer: Yes, but not for long.
Once a chigger latches on to a host, it usually stays attached for around 3 days before dropping off and getting on with the next stage of its life cycle. However, they usually only last 1-2 days on humans thanks to the itching and scratching caused by their bites.
Unfortunately, 1-2 days is still plenty of time for you to transport the chiggers home and carry them into your bed. This means that, technically, they can get into your bedroom – but they can’t survive there for long.
How long can chiggers live in your bed?
Chiggers can’t live in your bed for more than a few days. This is because your bedroom is nothing like their usual shady, grassy, moist habitat. Chiggers much prefer to live outside and, once they have done feeding on your body, they need certain conditions to complete their life cycle.
These conditions are very different to those found in your bed, so they won’t survive for more than a few days in your bedroom.
If something is biting you in your sleep, the most likely culprits are bed bugs which, unlike chiggers, feel very much at home in the bedroom.
How to prevent chiggers in your bed
The bed way to avoid bringing chiggers back to your bed is to avoid bites. Chiggers hitchhike home attached to your skin so, if you can prevent bites, you can also prevent a home invasion.
Cover up when hiking
The bed way to avoid chigger bites in to wear long pants and sleeves outdoors. This is especially important if you plan to venture into grassy or wooded areas, where chiggers (and other biting insects) are most abundant.
Avoid walking through long grass
Chiggers love a shady, damp environment, and are most abundant in long grass. You can reduce your risk of bites by avoiding grassy areas, and instead sticking to paths and mowed trails.
Wear insect repellent
Double down on your insect protection by covering any exposed skin with an insect repellent spray. The most effective of these contain DEET or picaridin, though there are plenty of natural alternatives to choose from. Insect repellent spray can keep you safe from chiggers, ticks, mosquitoes, gnats and more.
Shower as soon as you get home
If you’ve been walking about in areas that are likely to have chiggers, you should take a hot bath or shower as soon as you get home. This will remove any chiggers that have not yet attached themselves to your skin.
Wash you clothes in hot water
Wash your clothes as soon as you return home from any wooded or grassy area. This will kill any chiggers (or other bugs) that are lurking in your garments before they get a chance to latch n to your skin. It will also prevent them from being transferred to other parts of your home.
How to get rid of chiggers in your bed
Nocturnal bites are usually the work of bed bugs. These nocturnal pests can be found in bedrooms all around the world, and they live in mattress seams, sheets and bed frames.
Chiggers are unlikely to stick around in your bed for longer than a day or two, and can’t survive for long in an indoor environment.
However, if you think there may be chiggers in your bed, you can deal with the problem by simply washing your sheets. The hot water will be enough to kill any stowaway bugs.
Chigger bites can be incredibly itchy but, fortunately, these immature mites won’t set up residence in your bedroom. Chiggers can cling to their victim’s skin for up to three days after first latching on, and drop off when they’ve finished feeding. However, they must be outdoors to complete their life cycle, and will simply die if they find themselves in a hostile indoor environment.
You can prevent chigger bites by covering up when hiking in grassy or wooded areas, wearing insect repellent when outdoors and by showering and changing your clothes when you get home. If you are concerned about chiggers in your bed, laundering your sheets will be enough to get rid of them.