After the fact, I berate myself for having failed to soak my feet, ankles, and legs with Deep Woods Off. I curse the laziness responsible for the absence of insect repellent around my belt line. And I express displeasure at the bankrupt ineffectiveness of lotions sold as treatments for the creatures’ bites. The creatures to which I am referring, of course, are the larvae of “trombiculid mites,” otherwise known as chiggers. Until I moved to Arkansas, just over five years ago, I had never (to my knowledge and recollection) been bitten by the savage beasts. But since my arrival, I have encountered the monsters every summer. Scars, courtesy of scratching the itches their bites cause, remain today from those first awful bites around my feet and my belt line.
At last count, I had nine (or was it eleven?) chigger bites. Mostly around my feet, but a few on my lower legs and my inner thighs. I spend very little time walking through or around tall grasses. In fact, I avoid exposure to places where chiggers are said to thrive. Yet I somehow manage to attract the beasts. They dine on my flesh and cause awful itching thereafter.
From what I’ve read, chiggers are EVERYWHERE. But I’ve never encountered them until I moved to Arkansas. Hence my displeasure with this state. Not only is Arkansas a decidedly conservative state (conservative, in this context, being a synonym for willfully stupid), it is a breeding ground for aggressive chiggers. Chiggers are too small to see, but apparently have enormous teeth that rip into flesh like demonic chain saws. And, apparently, their saliva contains an ingredient that is, in effect, an aggressive antonym of calamine lotion. That is, chigger slobber causes itching an order of magnitude more distressing than abdominal surgery without amnesia.
It’s probably a good thing that I do not have ready access to a handgun, lest I injure myself (or worse) while discharging it in an effort to shoot to kill the little red bastards. I’ve done enough damage simply by scraping the flesh down to bone while scratching the itches caused by chigger bites. If I thought I could assassinate the monsters by smashing them with a hammer, I am sure I’d have massive bruises all over my feet and legs. I wonder whether the pain associated with dousing my legs in gasoline and striking a match would be more or less intense than the discomfort of chigger bites? I may well find out.
I am not happy with the chigger population in and around my home. I want to evict them but I don’t know how. Henceforth, I think I’ll fill a very deep tub with Deep Woods Off and will, before I leave the house, step into the tub. I will stoop down until the liquid covers every inch of me, up to my neck. Only then will I feel comfortable walking out the door. But I’ll carry a flame-thrower with me, incinerating everything in front of me to be sure I don’t risk another bite.
Yeah, that’s it.