Organic Chigger Control

jjfrisco(8a TX)September 5, 2007

I'm looking at controlling chiggers in our yard organically. It looks like I have 2 options: Beneficial Nematodes that are "somewhat effective" against chiggers and broadcasting sulphur at 5lbs/1,000 sqft.

Does anyone have any experience controlling chiggers organically? What is the impact to worms/beneficials if I broadcast the sulphur across the lawn?

I've also read that chiggers prefer long dry grass. I have bermuda that is maintained around 1.25" and is watered at approx 1" a week. For whatever the reason, our 2 year old still gets 5-10 bites a week from playing in the yard with the other kids on the street. They play mainly in our yard, and our dog has been bitten several times, so the problem has to be in our yard. Any thoughts or advice is greatly appreciated.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The use of broadcast treatments of sulfur to get rid of chiggers will not be helpful. There are some anectodatal stories that sulfur salve or powder applied to YOU will prevent them from biting. The jury is out on that one.

Are you sure that it's chiggers and not fire ants?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 11:35AM
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jjfrisco(8a TX)

Thanks. I know its not fire ants, as those bites have more of a white blister in the middle. These are large and red, with a small hole in the middle. Plus, fire ants sting right away and I would suspect he would let us know when he got bit. These seem to appear hours afterwards or even the next day.

Anyone have any luck with nematodes?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 1:48PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I consider sulfur and sulfates to be anti-organic. Sulfur is needed in small trace for life but not in mass quantities. It is not food.

On the other hand I like the idea of using organic fertilizer to solve the world's problems. It is my understanding that the more healthy your soil microbes, the better the overall health of the environment. I'm going to suggest using organic fertilizer, moisture, repeat applications of compost tea, and some beneficial nematodes for a long term solution.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 9:53PM
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jjfrisco(8a TX)

Thanks. We just moved into the house 6 months ago. I spread some bagged compost when we first moved in and use organic fertilizer (Milorganite, SBM, or CSM) every 6 weeks. Maybe the microbes just need a little more time.

I had the same regemin at the old house, just a few blocks away, and dont recall a single chigger bite there.

Maybe I'll give the beneficial nematodes a shot in a few weeks and hope the microbes catch up. My compost pile should be ready for spreading soon, which will help.

I'd still love to hear from someone on using beneficials for chiggers. Also the best method for applying. I have about 5k sqft of lawn and have a hose end sprayer, a pump sprayer, and could even use a watering can I guess.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 10:23AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I use a watering can to apply these beneficial nematodes in January or February, our early spring time. Timing is after the coldest cold and about 2 months before our latest freeze date. BN need to be refrigerated if you are going to store them. You may as well store them in the cold soil until the soil warms. The absolute instant the soil warms up enough for the BN, they start to hunt down the insect hosts.

BN work by bringing a disease to the insect hosts. That disease is food for the BN but deadly to the host. BN infect the host and lay 250,000 eggs. By the time the eggs hatch, the host is dead and engulfed in the food source for the BN babies. The insects die in 24 to 48 hours and the BN hatch in a week. You can see that the population of BN can increase tremendously quickly, so your few million BN can turn into trillions in a few weeks.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 8:58PM
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How interesting!!! I would like to use some nematodes for my lawn to get rid off those chiggers, too! where to find that? how much would be needed for a bit less than 1 acre??

    Bookmark   August 19, 2009 at 10:55AM
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How about Mosquito Barrier, a liquid concentrated garlic (et al) solution that claims to repel mosquitos, ticks and chiggers fo about 3 weeks per application?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 1:32PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

If you click on the link in my Sept 7, 07, message you can buy beneficial nematodes from those people.

By the way, I just heard that for some reason St Augustine lawns do not get chiggers or ticks. That's a good enough reason to have St Augustine for me!!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 1:00PM
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St. Augustine will absolutely not protect you from chiggers. I have terrible chiggers - the worst I've ever dealt with - and only St. Augustine. It's simply untrue.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 11:50AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Good to know, Jennifer, thanks. I heard that on the radio. That source is usually good, but sometimes they miss.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 2:09AM
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dogwind(Z8a TX)

Have you tried diatomaceous earth? I've never tried it for chiggers, but I bet it would work, especially if you distributed it very lightly with a powder blower. Pick an area especially prone to chiggers and foot traffic, and test it before trying to do the whole lawn. Obviously the DE would lose effectiveness after a rain or any irrigation. But perhaps it would kill or deplete enough while its still dry. I've also read that chiggers and chinch bugs hate compost and moisture. Compost would be a better long term solution.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 9:53PM
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Yes, I've got a few chiggers in my St Aug lawn this year (or they're on my plants and in the mulch of my flowerbeds?). I'm guessing it's because it's so dry here this summer? I wonder how much worse they would be if my lawn/yard wasn't 100% organic?? The BNs sure have their hands full.

Carla in Rowlett, TX

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 1:19PM
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