Loathing in the Natural State

I am having serious reservations about staying here. I do not know whether central Arkansas is really the place for me.

These doubts have little to do with the ugliness of the political environment and everything to do with the entomological climate. Yes, it’s chigger season and, for the second year running, I am the victim of horrible chigger bites.

I have no idea when or where the vicious little beasts are getting on me. I know only that they are biting me and causing itching the likes of which I’d never felt before moving to Arkansas. Last night, while sitting in front of the television, I felt an itch in my nether regions. It has grown progressively worse, despite my immediate application of a sticky ointment, sold locally for approximately one million dollars per ounce, said to be THE solution to chigger bites. Since then, I have felt, and now have seen, bites on the top of my right foot and behind my left knee.

Chiggers are, as far as I can tell, invisible. They come from nowhere, latching on to the body and travelling up one’s flesh until they find a spot that seems, to them, perfect. And then they feast, causing painful itching and hideous welts in the process. I have visible scars, just above the belt line, from last year’s attacks. Once these creatures get their claws or jaws or whatever they use into you, their presence is perpetual. They leave scars.

The thing is, I really have no idea where they get at me. I try to avoid walking where there’s grass that might brush up against me (which is where, I’m told, they’re most likely to be lurking in wait).  I suppose I could lather insect spray on my lower extremities whenever I venture out of the house, but the odor and the oilyness argue against doing so when I plan to be around other people.

Damn!  I just don’t know precisely what to do in response to the attack.

Here I sit, at four-thirty in the morning, hating the fact that I’ve been targeted by chiggers in three places in the last ten hours. The itching is almost unbearable, even after applying the costly anti-chigger-itch ointment. I guess I’ll  finish my coffee, then shower, then dab more of the liquid gold onto the growing welts, in the hope that the itching becomes tolerable.

According to a flyer produced by the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, I should not wear the clothes I was wearing when attacked by the miserable beasts until after washing in soapy hot water (125 degrees) for at least thirty minutes. For protection, I should wear: long pants tucked into my boots or tightly-woven socks and long-sleeve shirts tucked into pants.  And I should use DEET on my skin and Permethrin on my clothing. It seems U.S. military uniforms are impregnated with Permethrin, which lasts through 40-50 washes; I wonder how I get my hands on a Permethrin-impregnation kit?

Or, maybe, I should just move to the Pacific Northwest, where chiggers are not a thing.

If I can last until the temperatures drop to 60 degrees, they will stop biting me. And at 42 degrees, according to the materials I’ve just read, they’ll die. I long for winter. Cold, chigger-killing winter.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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3 Responses to Loathing in the Natural State

  1. loisferraralferrara says:

    The one and only attack by those nasty little creatures was last year when we were in HSV. Heathen. I don’t know why I was the only one who got them. Horrible experience. Why don’t cockroaches eat those good-for-nothing critters. Come to think of it, I hate cockroaches even more. Bleh! Hope the itching subsides soon. I understand.

  2. robin andrea says:

    Chiggers sound like horrible little beasts. I’ve never encountered them, and for that I am utterly grateful. I vote for you and your beautiful wife to move to the Pacific Northwest.

  3. jserolf says:

    Agreed. We get a lot of chiggers here in Florida, though mostly found in Tallahassee with more specific names like Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush.

    Did you know that the name originates out of the Caribbean *Chegoe)? Makes sense,too. That’s where these guys keep their secret bank accounts! 😉

    Chigger news, chigger politics, chigger chicanery.

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