June 25, 2006

The Chigger in my Refrigerator

*Post Updated 6/28/06

2 Corinthians 6:4-10 -

"4Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything."

... seems like there should be something about chest colds and chigger bites in there somewhere?

Well, folks... I have a confession to make. You know those lesson plans that I thought I was going to accomplish in two weeks? ....I didn't get even half way done with them. No, sir.

Life has been getting in my way. Our family has fallen prey to some sort of strange virus. 'Made-of-steel', 'I'd-rather-die-than-miss-work' Hubby is actually off work today and one of the children still has a hacky cough and stuffed up nose. We are still finishing up Spring (in the Seasons Unit) and have a few ornaments from Jan., Feb. & March left to make. We discovered that we didn't have a kite (storage in Texas)... but then discovered Morgan had a tiny pocket kite her friend Isabella gave her. Now we are planning to add kite-flying back in to our March plans if we could ever get well enough to go outside and play together.

"So what's all this talk about a chigger in the refrigerator?" you say.

Well, I'll tell you...

Before we all were hacking up lung cookies, we managed to walk at the track a few times. We usually walk a mile or so, and then go up and down the bleachers a few times. The track is full of dense vegetation at one end, and there are scores of blackberry vines that weave in and out of sight through thick weeds and low shrubs. My son loves picking berries, but most of the good ones have been just out of reach (causing him to request assistance from me to get them). Having been raised in Texas, and having been bitten by chiggers before, I am pretty aware of weeds in the summer time [Ah, the joys of summer!]. Terms like "dense vegetation" and "thick weeds" alone are warning signs to me of snakes and creepy insects you don't want to meet up with. Little did I know that the State of Arkansas was "Chigger Capitol of the World". I kid you not, I was less than half of a foot off the track in very low grass, leaning over a berry bush without touching a thing, and WHAM! - the next day I have "chigger measles" and itching that keeps you up at night.

Fifteen half-baked blackberries are hardly worth all this trouble. I had forgotten how bad chigger bites itch. My little boy was covered with them, too. He looked like he was playing itch-Twister reaching all those bites. He was out in the grass a bit further and longer than I was. I keep thinking the little evil six-legged demons must have hitched a ride on those berries and crawled up my arms instead of through the grass. I was hardly out in contact with them long enough for much else.

Of course, being a homeschooling mother, and a mom of a kid who absolutely LOVES bugs... I thought I would catch one and show it to him. I saw a tiny red speck crawling on my berry napkin which seemed too small to be a chigger (although I was suspicious). Two days later in the shower, I noticed a new whelp in beginning stages (chiggers can live on your clothing or car seats and lie in wait for you to return for quite some time). The whelp was on my arm where it bends near the elbow. In the bright shower light, I could see a microscopic little red spot in the center of it. I scraped it off with my finger and pasted it to the shower wall. I could not imagine that it could be the cause of all that itching. Later I got a Q-Tip and dabbed it up. I thought if it was a chigger, it would be dead after the pressure of my HUGE finger smashing it like that. The little bugger was MOVING on the Q-Tip! I could hardly believe it. It was so tiny, I couldn't see it's feet, but I could tell that it was a bug. I immediately grabbed my handy glass test-tube with a screw-on lid (it pays to do Science Labs once in a while).

I had read that chiggers are inactive in the colder weather, so I put the little red devil (and his Q-Tip) in my beaker and shoved him in the fridge. The next morning, Kevin and the kids got their first sighting of a real-live, half-frozen chigger. If only our microscope wasn't in storage! Leave it to a homeschool family to find some enjoyment in a snott-covered week of chigger bites and sore throats. Hopefully all this will be behind us before we head out for our vacation over the 4th of July. If you think about it, say a prayer for Kevin and Kaden - both are still struggling with this nasty chest cold and I'm sure Kaden still has a few chigger bites in some "really bad places" (his words - poor thing).

P.S. I left a link up top for you to follow that was written by Russell T. Johnson @ The Arkansas Roadside Travelogue back in 2000. It's just about the funniest Chigger Essay I think I've ever read. It's guaranteed to give you a laugh. Go click on "State of Arkansas" above to read it! Be sure to click over and read the other interesting chigger links as well - it may clear up some of the common myths and questions you may have about the tiny harvest mite pest!

*When asking Russell T. Johnson if I could post a bit of his Chigger Essay here, he responded with a nice helpful email that I thought it pertinent to share:
Dear Sprittibee:

I got a note from a reader suggesting that I rub my chigger bites with a banana peel. I tried it and I think it gave me some relief. It could be a placebo effect, but it doesn't cost much to try.

Russell T. Johnson

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buggymug said...

Yes...chiggers... Uh, so you didn't get the memo on those nasty bugs in your "Welcome to Arkansas" packet?

Take heart, my friend, if it gets bad enough - your doctor can give you a shot that will relieve all the itching. Remember - "OFF" is your friend! :)

buggymug said...

Oh yes - and another suggestion that Kevin will love... "paint" over the bites with fingernail polish to help stop the itching. Be sure to post photos if you try this one. LOL.

Sprittibee said...

Didn't get a welcome packet, sweetie. In fact, I think most Arkansans are hostile towards Texans in general (still some lingering animosity over the Southwest Conference or something? - Not sure). Although, some of the nicest people I've ever met are from here (the ones that can overlook my UT t-shirts). Glad that a few of you gals have taken me in.

As for the chiggers, they are finally fading away... only a few minor itches here and there. I thought of posting a chigger bite photo, but then thought better of it. ;)

Now if we could only talk Morgan into letting us snag that loose front tooth that keeps bleeding all over the place....

Stephanie said...

Thanks so much for the biblical reminder, too. We have had a couple of weeks like that...went to visit friends who "checked out" for three days (took naps, did housework, surfed the internet) while their three kids (good kids, but 6,4, and 3 year olds like attention!!!) and 6 month old puppy mobbed me and my "spirited" (strong-willed, and she was during these three days) 14 month old. On top of my 1st trimester morning sickness and fatigue, no less. Did I mention high humidity and no air conditioning?

Meanwhile, my daughter proceeds to come down with a very high fever, we leave VA to travel to Dallas to go to OK for a family reunion, she's a bear on the plane (both legs), continues to run a fever for the next two days, cuts two teeth out of the four trying, screams from Dallas to OK and back again, I had to replace destroyed luggage (two bags), and I start to itch and get a couple of strange welts. We get to the terminal in Dallas and she throws a tantrum in the lobby. She sleeps the first leg, but screams the whole second leg of the trip (oh, Praise the Lord we live only as far away as New Mexico.) We get home and she screams for 45 minutes on the drive home. Did I mention she had broken out in a rash head to toe during the flight? Fortunately it turned out to only be roseola, but argh. And my rash turns out to be contact dermatitis. Not sure what I contacted, but the itch is intense. I would say that chiggers would beat it, but not by much. I am wearing as little as I can get away with, but if I have to go out somewhere, I'm not sure what I'll do. I'm pretty sure a summery maternity robe is not considered modest public wear (no, I'm not big enough yet to wear it. But the welts are). We're holed up waiting for recovery.

Oh, and daughter has rebelled against taking baths and diaper changes since we got home. You'd think we drop her in boiling oil and diaper her in hair shirts. No, scratch that (not literally.) Her tantrums in general have increased in frequency about ten fold since we returned. That'll teach me to take trips alone without DH.

However, your quote gave me perspective, reminding me that mine is in the wrong place. And your story made me laugh and reminded me that, indeed, everywhere else in the world other people are also going through things that are better lived through with a huge, walloping dose of humor. And mittens covered with calomine lotion or vegetable oil. You know, for the itching.

Sprittibee said...

Wow, Stephanie. I don't know if I could have been humorous and in the right perspective, either. It is good that God brought you through the experience, though... and you lived to tell about it. ;)

Hope that next time, you'll take your man and your Bible along with you for when you hit the rough spots... and hopefully the next time you catch a plane, it won't come with itchy skin infections.

Jenn W. said...

Holy smokes! That article on Arkansas is hilarious! We are moving to a rural area, and I can only imagine what bites we might come across. Aughhh!!!

Sprittibee said...

I can tell you that you should steer clear of the high grass! ;)

Rebecca said...

I have to tell you what my husband found works the best for chigger bites. Stings at first, but the relief lasts for hours. Dab a bit of muscle rub (like Ben Gay) on those little bites. He was COVERED with chigger bites, and this was the only thing he tried that worked for any length of time.

Sprittibee said...

Hey, thanks for the idea, Rebecca! Chigger season is not far off! I walked the track at the highschool near us this morning and was reminiscing about the last time I caught a bad bout of chiggers there. ;)

ITCHYNSD said...

Chiggers AAUUGG! I moved back to SD and my yard/garden are full of them. So imagine dealing with them on an everyday basis. I heard that "seven" works so I will be going out today and buying a 5 gallon pail of it to dust my lawn as I sitting here now with 5 new chigger bites. (yes I know that they are not really bites). Yesterday was a lazy day for me too as I was only outside for a maximum of a half hour. Last year at one time I counted 75 whelts so i started washing my cloths and taking a shower every time I worked or was close to my garden. If anyone can tell me what to do I would really appreiciate it.

Sincerely "used to itching"

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