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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/chiggers in massachusetts


Comment: read your article in 2009 about a couple in Cambridge MA who were said to have chiggers. I am a health inspector in Easthampton MA and just inspected a home with a similar infestation and their experience is much like the one reported to you in 2009.  Sounds like there are chiggers in MA. Have you had any other reports since the one from cambridge in 2009?  Owner of the house suggests the chiggers may have come in after blown-in insulation work was done. Do they travel, possibly?

|Thank you.

Dear Jackie - Although Massachusetts is approaching the northern extreme for the distribution of chiggers in the United states, they certainly can occur there. However, they do NOT infest homes. One could get that impression as bite symptoms typically do not appear until several hours or even a day after the bite itself, frequently when the victim has returned home or at least may have traveled some distance from the actual site of exposure. Chiggers are incapable of long distance travel by themselves, and even if some were to remain on a person's skin after coming indoors, they would not survive there, and as they only take one meal, would not bite anyone else. See for a good article on chiggers in the northeastern US.
Finally, if the blown-in insulation was fiberglass-based, it's possible that could have been the source of skin irritation (personal experience).

Hope this helps,

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad


Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.


21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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