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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - April 08, 2015

From: Plano, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Turf, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Chigger Control in Habiturf from Plano, TX
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

We converted our back yard in Plano, Texas to Habiturf last spring/summer and have a nice lawn; however, for the first time since we have lived in this house for 32 years, the lawn was full of chiggers. Is there anything we can do this winter to keep the chiggers from ruining our family's enjoyment of our yard? Thank you, Susan McLeod

ANSWER:

  Mr Smarty Plants sympathizes with you on your chigger issue.  It was a lot harder to find information on Chigger control than I had expected. The Mr Smarty Plants archives did not show anything and most of the general articles on the Internet were about taking care of the bites.  Here are three articles though that address Chigger habitat and what might be done to rid yourself of them:

How to get rid of Chiggers
Texas Extension on Chiggers
Wikipedia on Trombiculosis [chigger bites]

    As I read these, I summarize the advice as to keep the lawn trimmed neat and [as much as appropriate] dry.   You may have already done the winter treatment. Healthline.com claims that chiggers are inactive below 60F and die off below 42 degrees.  Finally – a benefit for having to deal with the Plano winter!   As it is now getting Spring, as noted in the articles above, your approach should be to keep the lawn clean, neat, short and dry.  Here is a link to the Wildflower Centers “How-to Article on HabiturfIt says that you can cut it as short as 2 inches. 
   A bit of care is required here.  Here is a question/answer pair with Habiturf advice from Mr Smarty Plants.  This one notes that too short or too wet encourages weed growth. 

   Here’s hoping those pesky arachnids are already gone!

 

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