Field of Science

In praise of chiggers

Actually noting good can be said of chiggers (trombiculid mites). This year's hot, dry weather has been very good for the chigger population, and while you might think that any botanist who wades around in thick prairie vegetation is just asking for an infestation, the prairie has been quite benign posing no problem. But our yard this year has been its worst in memory. Every journey into our gardens for herbs, flowers, or garden produce, even just a cocktail hour walk around, has produced another batch of red, itchy welts. The Queensland Australia version,scrub itch, plagued my rainforest research, but it wasn't the rainforest per se but any scruffy, weedy margins where the mites were encountered. Under usual conditions, Ms. Phactor, being the tastier, would collect chigger wounds, while leaving me untouched, but for reasons not clear, certainly not a question of my tastiness improving, this season we have been on a par although not actually keeping exact score. This is what you get for having a wildlife friendly yard. And invariably your worst itching chigger wounds are on those parts of your anatomy that you cannot scratch in public.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a child in Indiana I wore my chigger wounds from spring to fall. Now I'm on the shore of the cold North Atlantic and no chiggers - but we've swapped them for blackflies, deerflies, no-see-ums, ticks of many persuasions and accompanying Lyme disease. But would it keep me out of the gardens and woodlands? (Just turn your back and scratch away.)