Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dealing with Chiggars

I like to see what search topics people use to find my blog, and lately the topic has been chiggars. I have several posts griping about the little buggers, but none specifically telling how we have dealt with them.

I managed to live 36 years without really knowing what a chiggar is. When Brownie went to Girl Scout camp one summer, they used sulphur powder on their ankles to ward off the beasties, but that's really all I knew until we bought five acres of a former ranch. I called a friend who had been living in the country for a few years and her advice was to buy Chiggerex for the existing chiggars and from then on, every time we were out in the field (aka our yard), to come in, fill the tub and add about a half cup of bleach and splash it all over ourselves.

That worked great, but was fairly inconvenient when we only had a shower. So I remedied it by filling a spray bottle with water and adding a couple of tablespoons of bleach. Get in the shower, spray all over, and turn the water on. By the time the water has warmed enough to start the shower, the bleach has killed off any chiggars and we shower as usual. The bleached water has only been on our skin for a few minutes, and is only minimally drying and that can be eased with lotion.

It takes chiggars a long time to actually dig into the skin so you can be out in chiggar territory a few hours before you have to come in and use the bleach solution on yourself.

Then, I heard an organic gardener talking about spreading sulphur on the yard and gardens. That is a granular sulphur and the first two years it worked great. In fact last year, we found a great price and bought enough for two years. We put it in the fertilizer spreader that hooks onto the riding lawnmower and spread it fairly heavily on the grass and in the flower beds that are next to any walking areas. After spreading all the sulphur pellets, there will be about a half cup of sulphur powder in the bottom of the spreader, and that can be poured into an old sock. Knot the sock at the top and before going into non-treated areas, take the sock and slap it around your ankles so the dust evenly coats your shoes and socks (or pants).

This year it wasn't as effective. Either it was too old or I just didn't put it on heavy enough. We had an usually wet early summer and the pellets don't last long after they've been wet. So this year, I gave up and spread a commercial insecticide on the yard. We don't have any small children or pets, but I still hated to do it because I knew it would kill the good insects as well. At the time, it didn't seem that we had a choice. My in-laws were coming over often and I couldn't have them going home and dealing with the itchies that last for days.

Hope that helps.

Until next time, may you have blessings and relief from the itchies,
Marti

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