Saturday, July 26, 2008


click picture to enlarge
I've had minor run ins with chiggers before at primitive Tennessee campsites but never like this. The camp Douglas, Happy and I shared on the lake two days ago included another unwanted, unseen guest. Yep; the chigger family. Chiggers make ticks look like school kids. They are deceiving in their attacks as the victim has no idea of their presence because the bite of the chigger goes undetected for up to twelve hours. They are so small they can't be seen without a magnifier. They do not bore under the skin and stay for days as I have been told by old timers. The adolescence stage of the chigger is the culprit. They emerge from the soil in sixty degree and above weather and climb tall plants in wait for a passing host. In my case it was me who would play host. They drop onto the victim as he brushes the plant in passing, or they can climb up the trouser leg and can even penetrate loosely knitted clothing. The bite itself goes unnoticed. The bad part of the bite is when the little devil inserts his proboscis into a hair follicle to feed, it introduces a saliva that actually deteriorates the Host tissue and liquefies the flesh. Then the imp sucks up the liquefied flesh and literally drinks from the Host. The injected saliva stays active in the bite area even when the chigger is dislodged. This material causes intense itching. The area can itch for days and up to over a week until the host body can create enzymes to neutralize the toxic serum. Scratching will easily dislodge the chiggers but only after the harm is done. I have included a link to a site all about chiggers. If you are a camper in Tennessee, you may want to update your outdoor skills combating insects. I have camped all my life in Pennsylvania and across this country and have never had experiences with chiggers until now. Believe me; they are not a welcome guest. I believe that Happy, who insists on sleeping with me came in the tent and laid down next to me thereby introducing the chigger to my bedding material. Stupid on my part. I'll know better next time. The link indicates precautions to take and the proper chemicals to apply to clothing. Deets is not the chemical of choice. Promethean is. It's pouring rain out now and I have to get the dogs to the woods for a little R&R. Today is my last day of vacation until September and I want them to have this last day as theirs. So I'll gather up a couple tubes of Cortisone and be on my way.