Field of Science

Moss sweet toes

TPP just noted that summer rains always bring fungi, and the last couple of days have reminded the botanist of something else that comes with summer rains too. Moss-sweet-toes. Of course, at halfway through the month of June, out rainfall is about 50% above our monthly average for June, and there a still a dozen days to go. So it's wet, it's soggy, and every tree hole out there must be filled with water by now, the favored breeding site for mosquitos in this area. The last two trips outside in the evening were like trips to a blood bank as those thirsty female vampires of the insect world (you do know that only the females need a blood meal to get protein for their eggs?) swarmed upon us. TPP has a mosquito expert as a colleague, so perhaps it would be good to see if any bad species are around this year. This area does have West Nile virus, but so far no dead crows (nesting in a neighbor's tree) or bluejays, both susceptable species, and no reports of the virus yet, but give it time. TPP already has two samples of blood enshrined at the CDC from this tropical adventures, so reasonable precautions will be taken. So like it or not, insect repellant will remain our gardeners' friend. On the silver-lining side of things, chiggers are often less of a problem in wet years (but they are showing up now too).


William M. Connolley said...

> chiggers are often less of a problem

I've never actually seen a chigger, though I've heard talk of them. Perhaps we don't have them in the UK. Post a pic of one! Even if its a plant.

The Phytophactor said...

Thought every place had chiggers, e.g., Queensland had "scrub itch". They are very small red mites whose bites get red, swell, and itch like the devil. By then the actual critter having gotten a blood meal is gone. A big dose of chigger bites is agony. Never ran into them in upstate New York, so perhaps UK is too cool for them to be a noticeable problem.

Anonymous said...

Ow, just reading about chiggers makes me itch. Chiggers love to get in where clothing is tight - like the elastic in underwear, or the tops of socks, or cuffs. And they dig their little selves in and of course Mama says don't scratch them dear and what kid ever didn't dig away like fury until her/his skin was raw? No TPP, I don't think they ever came as far east or north as upstate New York, so when I was transplanted from Hoosierland I left them behind - except for a few chigger-induced scars around my torso.