Matt Johnson

How to Avoid Chiggers while Camping

Author: Matt JohnsonPhotos/Graphics: Mike HawthornePublished: Jul 17, 2022Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Camping is one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend. I love being outdoors, exploring new places, and breathing fresh air. However, one thing that can ruin a camping trip is chiggers. These tiny pests are attracted to human and animal skin, and their bites can be intensely itchy. So what are chiggers, and how can you avoid them when camping? We’ll cover that and more in this article.

What are chiggers?

Chiggers are tiny mites found in areas with high grass and weeds. They’re typically found in the south and the midwestern United States in states such as Texas, Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Nebraska. Don’t be fooled. However, we’ve seen them as far north as Wisconsin and New York.

They typically measure between 1/60th and 1/150th of an inch in size, making them very difficult to see with the naked eye.

When chiggers attach themselves to humans or animals, they insert their mouthparts into the skin and feed on tissue fluids. This feeding process can cause intense itching and swelling. In some cases, it can also lead to secondary infection if the bites are scratched open.

While common and not necessarily harmful, chiggers can be a nuisance. If you’re planning on spending time outdoors this summer, it’s essential to know how to avoid these pests.

What are chiggers attracted to?

Chiggers are attracted to human and animal skin because when we exhale, we release carbon dioxide. This gas is like a dinner bell to chiggers and lets them know that a meal is nearby.

They’re especially attracted to warm, moist areas such as the groin, armpits, and waistline.

They’re also attracted to areas of the body covered in hair, such as the scalp, legs, and arms. This is because they can easily attach themselves to hair shafts.

Now that you know what they are and what they’re attracted to let’s talk about how to avoid getting bit by them.

Avoid sitting or standing in tall grasses or weeds.

Tall Grass is an Excellent Environment for Chiggers
Chiggers are live in tall grass and are attracted to humans and animals. This is a quick way to get bit by chiggers.

If you want to avoid chiggers, it’s crucial to stay out of areas where they’re commonly found. After all, you don’t have to worry about being a bit if they’re not around in the first place.

Tall grasses and weeds are prime habitats for these pests, so it’s best to avoid them if possible. If you must go into an area with tall grass, try to walk in the middle of the path to avoid coming into contact with the vegetation.

When you set up your campsite, ensure it’s in an open, grass-free area.

If you’re camping in an area with tall grasses or weeds, try to find a spot that’s clear of vegetation. This will help you avoid coming into contact with chiggers while camping.

You should also avoid setting up your tent near areas where animals frequent. Chiggers often attach themselves to animals and then fall off onto the ground, where they can bite humans.

Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt to cover your skin as much as possible.

One of the best ways to avoid being bitten by chiggers is to cover your skin. Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when you’re outdoors. This prevents them from getting access to your skin in the first place.

It might be hot out, but the extra clothing will be worth it to avoid those itchy bites. If you’re worried about getting too hot, try wearing light-colored clothing. This will help reflect some of the heat and keep you cooler than dark-colored clothing would.

Tuck your pants into your socks so the chiggers can’t get inside.

While this may sound uncomfortable, tucking your pants into your socks is a great way to prevent chiggers from getting to your skin. This creates an extra barrier against these tiny pests.

If it’s sweltering out and you don’t want to tuck your pants into your socks, try wearing tall boots instead. This will help keep them from getting inside your pant legs.

Spray yourself with insect repellent before going outside.

If you really want to avoid chiggers while camping then take your chigger protection one step further by spraying yourself with insect repellent before you go off into the woods. This will help keep them from getting on your skin in the first place.

Look for an insect repellent that contains DEET, as this is the most effective ingredient against chiggers. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label and reapply as needed.

Check your body for bites and treat them if necessary.

Chigger Bites on Skin are Red and Swollen
If bit by a chigger you’ll notice red, swollen areas on your skin. They will be itchy but you must avoid scratching them.

If you get bitten by chiggers, it’s essential to check your body for bites and treat them accordingly. The sooner you can find the bites, the easier they’ll be to treat.

Look for small, red bumps on your skin. These are typically the first sign of a chigger bite. If you see any, try to avoid scratching them, as this can worsen the bites.

If the itching is terrible, you can try applying a topical anti-itch cream to the affected area. You can also take an antihistamine to help reduce the swelling and itching. In severe cases, you may need to see a doctor for oral steroids or antibiotics.

Shower as soon as you can and change clothes to avoid bringing the chiggers inside.

When you’re done hiking for the day and back at your campsite, it’s essential to take a shower as soon as possible. This will help wash away any chiggers that may be on your skin.

Be sure to change your clothes as well, as they may contain chiggers that could bite you later. It’s best to change into clean clothes before going inside your tent or RV. This helps prevent the pests from getting inside and biting you while you sleep.

Can you bring chiggers home from camping?

If they’re embedded in your clothing or taking a ride on your pup, it is possible to bring chiggers home from camping. Once inside, they can bite you and your family members, causing all sorts of misery.

However, they won’t necessarily infest your home. Chiggers typically only live for a few days without a host, so they’ll likely die off before they have a chance to lay eggs and start a new generation.

And, unlike bedbugs and other pests, your home isn’t an excellent environment for chiggers. They prefer woods and other areas with lots of vegetation, so your home is probably too dry and clean for them to survive.

Chiggers are pesky little bugs that can ruin your camping trip if you’re not prepared. In this article, we’ve outlined what they are, what they’re attracted to, and how to avoid chiggers while camping and enjoying the great outdoors.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to relax and enjoy nature without worrying about chiggers!


Matt Johnson

Senior Content Writer

Matt is an experienced camper and glamping enthusiast with a Master's degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. Authoring posts for GlamperGear, he shares his wealth of knowledge on picturesque campsites, luxurious accommodations, and the best gear for outdoor adventures. His passion for nature and knack for comfort in the wilderness make him an expert guide for your next camping endeavor.

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