Bite Me!

I’ve been harvesting a small bowl of raspberries every day for more than a week. The first day, I counted four chigger bites. You’d think that would be a warning, but no! Day two, I picked up 100 chigger bites. I’ve finally wised up by wearing bug spray, changing my clothes and scrubbing my skin right after each picking session. A big price to pay, but the raspberries are delicious!

I don’t take my own advice.  Another year of berry picking, another year of chigger bites.  I don’t like to cover myself in chemicals every time I pick a few berries on my raspberry bushes and thought I could handle a few chigger bites as a result of going unprotected.  So much for that flawed plan.  Now, I’m covered in chigger bites. I’m about to go out of my mind with itching, even though I’m taking prednisone and smearing on cortisone cream. So I didn’t avoid chemicals, after all.

This is a chigger, enlarged about 1,500 times. Chiggers are red until they are engorged, when they turn yellow. They feed on our dissolved skin cells, not blood. (Photo — Dr. W. Calvin Webourn, the Ohio State Acarology Laboratory.)

My son claims he doesn’t get chigger bites, or at least he’s not allergic to their bites. The allergic reaction is what causes the welts.  I look as if I have measles! Can’t scientists find a way to make me less tasty or less allergic to chigger bites? Maybe I should have made that my life’s work.  My son is very allergic to poison ivy, though, while I seem to be immune.  Poison ivy has invaded my raspberry bushes, so at least I don’t have to worry about suffering from that scourge. (I’m stopping here to knock on wood.)

This is an earlier post I wrote about my struggle with chiggers. You’ll wonder how I could have forgotten this terrible ordeal and not protected myself.   All about Chiggers.   And being victimized by fire ants Ouch! That Hurts!

Poison ivy flourishes in the berry patch. You can see it in the lower center of the photo. I’ve sprayed it with herbicide. But the poison ivy just grows even more luxuriantly! To add insult to injury, it may even be hosting chiggers.

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10 Comments

Filed under Entomology, Gardening

10 responses to “Bite Me!

  1. Chiggers up close and personal. Yikes! But at least you got to enjoy the fruits of your labor. I picked a lot of raspberries in my youth but don’t remember any bug bites. Maybe I was just lucky? Or you are a chigger magnet? What gives? Is the secret chigger base located where the raspberries grow? 100 bites? Wow.

    I didn’t know chiggers would hang with poison ivy. Do you pick on your property or someplace else? Where I live we have raspberries and blackberries, but the blackberries are way more common. They are very invasive plants that grow willy nilly almost anywhere, but I love the fruit so much. Bugs have never been a problem for me, though.

    The raspberry and blackberry bushes are at the end of my yard against a fence. The poison ivy is creeping in from the other side, and some of the raspberries have crept over there with the ripe berries just tantalizingly out of reach. I don’t know that the chiggers hang out on the poison ivy, but it wouldn’t surprise me. The whole area is a like a mine field. Thanks for visiting! Cathy

  2. I have the same problem when I go pick berries in my yard! So do the boys. It’s horrible. I haven’t been shaving my legs lately, ’cause I have so many bites, I’m worried about running over them with a sharp blade. I wish they’d just go away! We’ve got poison ivy invading as well. I don’t think I’m allergic to either (knock on wood), but I still change clothes and wash up after picking, just in case.

    ~Daniél

  3. I wonder if the poison treatment for blackberries in the NW would work for poison ivy? Take a fresh cut on the posion ivy,exposing a blunt stem edge and then take a paint brush and brush it with a systemic posion like roundup. Roundup kills everything, but painting a small amount on a fresh cut stem of a noxiuos weed, it goes systemic and kills the plant instead of posioning your ground. I hate chemicals, but I like the idea of taking out just the thing that is noxious, with out turning my yard into a toxic wasteland!

  4. rickbraveheart

    You made me smile with this wonderful and fun post, Catherine. As a landscape photographer I’ve spent decades photographing in National Parks and backcountry areas that were hopping with chiggers but never had one get on me…until…two weeks ago in Nebraska when one decided to get up close and personal. And, after all these years of hearing story after story from others about their own experiences, I felt sort of excited to discover this fellow -UNTIL- it started itching. Now, I can truly say I can relate to what you went thru. This is a wonderful blog and I’m looking forward to following.

  5. Yummy raspberries!
    I never knew about this chigger until I read this post.
    Since I was so curious, I googled about how their bite really looks like and I am really horrified. I feel sorry for those who had bitten by this.

    Cliquez ici to visit my website.
    Janel

  6. Mark

    Thank you! It’s 2 AM and I am awake because of all these bites!!! At least I now know the cause. I just now made the connection between the bites and raspberry picking! Your post was very helpful

  7. Welcome back, Catherine. Nice to see you here again!
    ‘Bite me’ intrigued me for a second untill I met that ‘little fellah’ 🙂
    But perhaps I should by myself a microscope? Another world?
    But one still needs to find such critters and if I start to look through my garden using microscope, I’m afraid someone might lock me up?! 😀

    • Thank you for stopping by! Glad to see you again, too! You are lucky if you haven’t met the little fellahs. They can make summertime visits to the outdoors very miserable.

      • Well, I think that having temperatures around 18-25 C during summer, we tend to have just a little more clothing on than you have in the warmer zones and – that this may hold a slight difference in vulerability?

      • I should add that we do have cats and dogs running back and forth, and – they are checked regularly. Ofte 3 times a day!

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