Chiggers, also known as red bugs, are the teeny-tiny larvae of harvest mites. If you spend time in weedy areas, you may get these arachnids on your body, resulting in itchy bumps. Contrary to popular belief, chiggers do not burrow into your skin and die. Rather, using specialized mouthparts, they attach themselves to thin skin ~ often around ankles, the backs of knees, belt lines, and armpits. Although the chigger’s bite often goes undetected, its saliva causes much discomfort. Digestive enzymes in the saliva liquefy cells, which the chigger then sucks up. Once full, the chigger falls off and continues its life cycle towards an adult mite.
WILD Fact is a regular feature written by Linda May, a wildlife interpretive specialist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division based at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield, Georgia.