“They tend to be in grassy areas, under vegetation and in shady areas with high humidity,” Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, Ph.D., an urban entomologist and coordinator with the New York State Integrated Pest Management community program at Cornell University, tells TODAY.com.

To make things perfectly clear: Bedbugs are parasitic insects that bite people and eat their blood, which is unsettling enough on its own. But the bites can also cause irritating skin reactions.

And, often, “you’ll have a history of a patient who was out in the grass in a wooded area,” Levoska says. “It’s really (common) in areas where there’s tall grass where the chiggers will lay their eggs, and then they’ll attach to your clothing and then get on your skin to actually bite you,” she explains.

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Sarah Jacoby is a health reporter at TODAY.

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While chigger bites aren’t generally harmful, they can still be itchy and bothersome. Here’s how to identify and manage chigger bites, according to experts.

The first thing to do, the experts agree, is to investigate whether or not you truly have bedbugs — which means calling in professional pest control.

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When bedbugs aren’t feeding, “they tend to retreat” into those crevices, as well as places like electrical outlets or even inside computers, Kimsey says.

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Some signs you might notice include:

After emerging from the pupal stage and feeding on their first bloodmeal, adults are ready for mating. After mating and feeding on blood, females deposit up to 4 eggs at a time. One female can lay up to 100 eggs in her lifetime. Eggs are oval, cream-coloured and very small. Eggs are generally less than 0.5 mm long and similar in appearance to grains of salt. Eggs are laid directly on to a host in a nest and hatch within 1 week. Unlike adult fleas which feed on blood, larvae feed on dead skin; remnant and excreted blood from adult feeding; and other material available on the host. At each of the 4 stages of growth development (instar) larvae shed their skin (moult). After 1 to 3 weeks of feeding and moulting, larvae spin a silk cocoon for pupation which is often covered in skin, animal fur/hair or carpet fibre for camouflage. After pupating, fleas emerge as the adult form. Depending on the species and environmental conditions, the flea life cycle is approximately 2 weeks to 8 months.

Most chiggers that attach to humans fall off or die within hours, according to the University of Florida. But it’s possible for chiggers to stay on skin for a few days. After about three days of feeding, they can drop off and move into the next phase of their lifecycle, called a nymph (which precedes the adult phase).

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Insect bites and stings

The chiggers that bite humans “are the larval stage of a mite that is otherwise harmless and actually beneficial,” Gangloff-Kaufmann says. “They eat other mites and other plant-damaging critters.”

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Even then, not everyone develops a noticeable skin reaction after getting a bedbug bite, the CDC notes. And even if you do have itchy bites, it can be tough to really know whether your bites came from bedbugs or another insect, or if they’re another type of rash or hives.

Chigger bites appear as small, itchy red bumps that show up in clusters, MedlinePlus explains. The bites may be pimple-like, blister-like or similar to hives.

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