They’re eating me alive.
It took me a couple of days to figure out it was chiggers. I pulled a seed tick off me. It was in an unmentionable place. I itched in so many places, I thought it was from mosquito bites, or even fleas that my dogs had brought in. Fleas just laugh at the Frontline-Plus I use on them, so I sprinkled them with Seven Dust, an old remedy that seems to be working.
Then I remembered my first encounter with those tiny red bugs known as chiggers. It was right after I had moved to this rural area. I had trimmed weeds in my front “yard” half a day, and by that evening, my ankles were covered in chigger bites.
I thought I had protected myself against any insect bites this year. I have used Deep Woods Off, then an organic bug repellant that smells heavily of citronella. In this heat, though, I sweat off any protection within an hour, even during early-morning forays.
Chiggers live in the woods, in tall weeds and in tall grasses. Hello, I’m surrounded by all three. Chiggers jump on you and hitch a ride. Only their larvae bite, a fact that offers no comfort at all. Those are microscopic in size. Contrary to folk lore, they don’t burrow into your skin. They don’t have to. They can, however, stay attached and feeding for several days.
Like an other-world creature from a sci-fi movie, their claws help them grab onto your skin. Then a chigger attaches its mouth to the skin and injects saliva. Ugh! The saliva contains an enzyme that breaks skin cells down to liquid form. Your body responds by hardening skin cells around the saliva, creating a tube through which this critter sucks the dissolved skin cells. Double ugh.
What makes them so insidious is that they like to bite in tender, moist places like the folds of your skin and places where clothing fits tightly to the skin. In order words, around the ankles, waist, armpits, crotch or behind the knees, I have bites in all those places except my armpits. So pardon me if I don’t show you a photo of my bites.
Summer and fall are prime time for chigger bites, of course. They aren’t active when the temperature falls below 60 degrees and die off when it drops below 42 degrees. Now you know why I hate summers.
Nothing itches worse than chigger bites. Not mosquito bites. Not even tick bites. The itching they cause is so intense you almost claw your skin off scratching. I’ve tried topical Benadryl gel, spray-on Benadryl, a generic Benadryl capsule, Neosporin cream with a pain-relieving agent, and Ivy-Dry spray. The latter does nothing but burn like hell.
You aren’t supposed to use oral Benadryl while using the topical. Bummer. But I saw no such warnings against Neosporin with Benadryl capsules. So that’s what I’ve resorted to. That combo brings a little relief, at least for a few hours. Then I repeat the process.
When I get to heaven, I’m going to ask God why in the world he created chiggers. For the life of me, I can’t see what purpose they serve, other than to make people miserable.
Now excuse me while I scratch.