Are There Bugs in Arkansas? Part II

| 9/3/2013 3:53:00 PM

NinaOh naïve girl – I am walking in the tall grass, admiring the view and wearing flip flops and shorts. I know better than to head into the woods, poison ivy and such. But here in the field, surrounded by greenery, I am happy. I sit on a downed tree, stretching my legs to warm them to the sun. I think it is great, to commune with nature on such an up close and personal level.

Mother Nature, however, has a sick sense of humor. An hour later, I casually reach down to scratch an itch by my ankle; it is the beginning of the end. The itching is intense, maddening and growing. From my ankle, up my calf, over my knee, up my thigh and now … my butt, are you kidding me?!? I have long, natural nails, but they just aren’t enough to satisfy this maddening itch. I move to a handy hair brush, then two, using both hands trying to scratch everything at once. The more I scratch, though, the worse it gets. My skin is red and hot and if I thought it would help, I would peel it off. What is going on?? I put on my glasses, but I see nothing! I get a magnifying glass, and now I can see tiny, infinitesimal red dots … what the heck is this?  Poison ivy, poison oak, allergic reaction to something, what the heck?  “Chiggers” the druggist says. “Chiggers? Chiggers?” I repeat like some demented parrot. “What are chiggers and how do I stop this itching?” I am in public, so I cannot do what I would love to do right now … scratch … OOOHHH, I want to scratch my butt!!  I get an antihistamine, some cream to help with the itch and a lecture on what chiggers are and where they lurk. Lesson learned; never again, I tell myself.

Here’s what I learned: Chiggers are small, tiny mites that hang out in long grass, dead wood, leaves, etc. In other words, they are EVERYWHERE in the country. They love to attack soft, tender skin, ankles, behind knees, butts, but will also just go where ever they can gain access. Once they bite you, even killing them does not stop the itching. It is the enzyme in the saliva that makes you itch and that must wear off on its own. They are tiny enough to get through clothing with an open weave. If you are ever silly enough to sit on a downed tree, well, don’t say I didn’t try and warn you. 

So, yes again, Arkansas does have a number of irritating bugs. Bugs that bite, bugs that sting, bugs that dive bomb you with military precision, bugs that latch onto you in the most inaccessible places and dare you to try and remove them.  They are everywhere and there are legions of them. And in keeping with the natural, wholesome, pesticide-free attitude I have, I allow Mother Nature to help me keep the bug population here on the farm in check.

Lesson learned: The grass is cut regularly and short. The chickens and turkeys are allowed free range. They line up side by side and begin their back and forth march across the lawn first thing in the morning. Insects groggy from the cooler nights are easy pickings. They rarely stray from their place in line, unless someone finds an exceptionally large and juicy meal. Then the race is on as the original finder tries to get it eaten before the rest of the group muscles their way in. And soon to join the clean up squad, 19 Guinea hens … or the Guinea Gang as I like to call them. 

Early Morning Rest

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