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Question
My husband and I dug out a small corner of our lawn 3 years ago for a vegetable garden.  The soil was very hard and clay-like so this year we made it a raised garden with many bags of top soil for the soil.  We have planted tomatoes and peppers from the store that had already started blooming and the some other vegetables and herbs from seed.  On the 4th of July we were weeding and watering and our neighbor came over and was sitting with us.  The next day we all had multiple bites on our upper legs and I had them on my waist line.  Our neighbor said he thought they were chugged bites.  We water or garden every other day when the weather requires it and a few days after the 4th I had about 15 new bites.  Our dogs don't seem to be bothered by anything and we don't seem to get the bites if we are just outside to get the dogs or sitting and talking up by the patio.  We think this might indicate that the chiggers are in our garden but I know they can spread.  My husband refuses to buy bug spray for us to wear and he won't use chemicals on our garden or lawn (we don't even use fertilizer) but he will use miracle grow from time to time.  He is especially concerned about chemicals on/near vegetables that our daughter might eat.  Is there a natural remedy to get ride of chiggers?  We are going to be in the garden a lot when things ripen and I can't take anymore bites.  Thanks!

Answer
Erin,

Chiggers are tiny red mites that can bite and leave a extremely itchy, red lesion (see http://www.livingwithbugs.com/chigger.html and follow the links to pictures of bites). Bites normally occur in multiples of a few to many bites at one time. The best way to avoid bites is to use an insect repellent such as DEET or picaridin (see http://www.livingwithbugs.com/mosquito_repellent.html) or a permethrin-based clothing treatment. Post a follow up if you have questions after looking over these articles.

Jack DeAngelis

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Jack DeAngelis

Expertise

I can answer questions in any area of entomology (study of insects, spiders, mites, ticks, and other terrestrial arthropods). Contact me about home and garden insects such as aphids and spider mites, insects that bite and sting such as ticks and wasps, and insects that damage homes such as carpenter ants and termites.

Experience

20 years as university extension entomologist, now retired; currently publish a website about home and garden insects.

Organizations
see www.livingwithbugs.com/resume.html

Publications
see www.livingwithbugs.com/resume.html Fine Gardening magazine

Education/Credentials
Ph.D. in Entomology (the study of insects)

Awards and Honors
see www.livingwithbugs.com/resume.html

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