They’re back

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 13, 2004

I’ve often wondered about chiggers, so plentiful, so maddening and such great climbers. Surely they don’t fly up to the waist area, they are doomed to crawl to their dark destinations from whatever spot on the human body they first land. I am 79 years old and have never seen what some call a redbug, couldn’t describe them or even know their size. But I sure have experienced them. Compared to spiders they must be miniscule. Spiders at least have the courtesy to throw a web across whatever path you are walking, hang around in the middle of it and you can knock their lair down with a stick. Not so a chigger, you don’t know they are visiting until the middle of the night. Not only do they head directly to the underwear, they don’t feel secure until they get warm and snug immediately under the elastic. I don’t do my best work under such claustrophobic conditions but chiggers thrive on them, the preferred conditions for dining on you.

Hurricane Isabel damage now forces me into woodsy areas I seldom travel, to pull out branches and limbs. Somebody must have tipped the chiggers off that this would be a grand place to wait for vulnerable humans. I had so many on board they couldn’t all get in the underwear and bored in where they touched down, I suspect waving to each other to come join the party. No part of the body is off limits; there were conventions of chiggers everywhere, many where it is difficult to reach or embarrassing to scratch.

I bought and used every type of itch relief known to man and some I invented. Kerosene worked pretty good but caused everyone in the house to worry about fire. There are these chigger sticks guaranteed to stop itch immediately but in pharmaceutical parlance that means within 24 hours if at all. Cortaid in the tube worked well for 5 minutes but was far too expensive to cover an entire body. Lanacane is for another place. I tried the fingernail polish method where you sit naked and run around your body with this tiny brush dabbing at any red spot. You can reach most areas with a mirror. But don’t do as I did, forgot I had the bottle in the other hand when I went after a bite on my stern and dumped it down the back of my neck.

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Like I said up front, I wonder about chiggers. Does anyone expect me to believe that Noah located a pair wanting to travel? And at his age, poor eyesight and no corrective lens, how in the world could he know he had them on board? Maybe it was merely an accident and they came up the gangplank on the back of an aardvark. There are many millions of species living on this planet and I can’t imagine a ship large enough to properly stow those that would otherwise drown. We have recently learned you can’t mix humans and tigers and I suspect there are thousands of other instances where living things don’t get along because they eat each other. Blacks and whites are no longer cannibals but they are still having problems existing together.

But let’s say Noah was able to bring 1 million above-water species on board, properly labeled, separated, and sufficient food for all of that rainy period. The waters subsided and the ark foundered up on Mt. Ararat. Millions more above-water species have evolved in only a few thousand years, in spite of the fact that many humans don’t believe in the evolution theory. But even scientists are convinced that chiggers evolved from Raptors.

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be contacted via e-mail: