Saturday, June 25, 2016

Ticks And Chiggers And A Trip

This is a bad year for ticks here, the worst I've seen in awhile.  Hubs has already removed a tick from me about 5 or 6 times, and I've taken a couple off him, too.  I'm outside more than he is.  And when he's outside, he's usually on the riding mower.  The only time he's at risk is probably when he uses the weed-wacker. 

I remember ticks as being soft and round, with lots of legs.  But the ticks we find on ourselves lately look a little like a small ant.  I think they're what are called "Deer Ticks", and I understand they're more likely to carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever than the fat round ones, although the risk is less if you get them off before 24 hours pass.  Nonetheless, they dig themselves in, and the best thing I know of to remove one is a tick spoon, available on Amazon for $3 or so.  That said, I have found some information relating to the use of horticultural sulphur on Mother Earth News HERE and HERE.  Apparently a dusting of the powder on your legs repels ticks and as a bonus, prevents all those chigger bites that can be so itchy and annoying.  I've been getting a lot of those this summer, too. 

They even give a recipe for taking sulphur internally.  IMPORTANT NOTE:  If you are sensitive to sulfa drugs, do not use sulphur, either internally or externally.

I'm not sure putting sulphur on your legs (or, as one article suggested, putting your socks in a jar with 2 Tbsp of sulphur powder and shaking well) is going to be 100% effective for tick repellant, the reason being that, in woody areas the dang things can drop on you from the trees.  But yeah, if you're not under trees, then the only way they can get on you is to crawl up your legs.  I hope everyone has enough sense not to sit down on the ground in tick season.  Sometimes you can feel the tick crawling on you and that's the best time to get them off.  Once you are inside for the rest of the day, a quick shower is helpful for washing off ticks and chiggers that haven't bitten in yet. 

Sulfur is also a fungicide, so having it on your socks might be a good thing if you ever have trouble with Athlete's Foot.  Bear in mind, though, sulphur smells like rotten eggs.  I have read that the active substance is the same as what's in garlic, onions, and the cabbage family.  People who eat a lot of garlic actually smell like it.  Some say the odor comes through their pores.  So would this mean that if you were one of those people, you wouldn't get bitten by ticks and chiggers??  Not sure I want THAT smell emitting from my pores.

Chiggers are very, very tiny and are hard to see without magnification.  They are less effectively repelled by tucking your pants legs into your socks and all those other things people recommend for keeping ticks from getting under your clothing.  They can work their way onto your skin through the knit of your socks or the weave of the material of your clothes.  Once you have chigger bites, there are things you can do to relieve the itch, one of which is to mix a little sulphur with water and dab it on the bites.  Another is to use a product called "ChiggerRid".  I've even had relief by painting a little clear nail polish over each bite, but the acetone in the nail polish stings and probably isn't the best thing to use, especially if you've been scratching it already.  I think the only reason why ChiggerRid and nail polish works is because it keeps your clothes from rubbing across the bite and waking up the itch.  We used to think that the chigger burrows under the skin but that's not true.  The chigger just bites you and your skin reacts to the bite as an allergen.  In that case I wonder if you could rub Benadryl ointment on it.  I've seen where other people recommend Tea Tree Oil, or vinegar, or witch hazel.  Also Emu oil, Peppermint oil, or bathing with Fels Naptha soap.  I haven't yet tried any of these, but years ago, someone recommended Fels Naptha to Hubs when he had poison ivy so bad.  It seemed to help dry it up at first, but didn't help much with the itch and wasn't as effective for subsequent afflictions.  I was happier when I thought the chigger was good for only one bite but obviously, it can live to bite you several times.  In fact, the chigger larvae can live on you for FOUR DAYS.  Of course you're showering long before that.  But are you like me and coming in to rest periodically?  Then maybe they're migrating from your body to your chair, where you also sit in your clean clothes, or even in your jammies, and if you get chiggers in your jammies, you can transfer them into your bed where they can nibble on you all night.  I think this is what is happening to me.  Or are you wearing the same garden clothes for more than one day?  Bad idea, because they can remain in your clothes and wait.  If you must wear your gardening clothes for several days, hang them on the line in the hot sun after you've come in and showered.  Or keep two gardening outfits going, hanging the previous day's clothing in the sun for a day before putting them on again.  Are you washing your clothes in cold water?  Bad idea, because chiggers can live through a cold water wash.  Although I imagine they'd be killed in the dryer....  If you're pulling weeds, it might be they're crawling from the weeds onto your hands and going up your arms.  Oh, Goody.  One of my neighbors complains that the chiggers are on her as soon as she steps outside.  Her husband is really good about keeping the grass mowed and they don't have a garden, so I'm thinking I probably have five bites to her ONE, but sometimes he sprays some pretty potent insecticide on their grass, stuff that you can't GET, just anywhere, and that kills the beneficials, too, so I really hate to see him do that.  You don't want to eradicate chiggers and their nymphs, (if that's possible)because it turns out they eat mosquito eggs and larvae.  But we want them to eat the mosquitoes and NOT US.  Chigger bites do not cause disease, but if you scratch the bites and get them bleeding, you can get an infection.  Possibly a fungal infection, depending on what you are exposed to, which is dangerous.

You can get chiggers on you from your pet, too, if your pet goes outside.  There are instructions for mixing sulphur with talcum and dusting your dog's fur with it, in one of those articles.  Bear in mind, you probably shouldn't do this to a cat because they clean themselves by licking and that might be a health risk for the cat. 

There are also some little mite-critters called Oak Mites that live on oak leaves.  When they bite you, they make little water-filled blister-looking things.  I usually break the blister with a needle so the water will drain, and they itch less that way.  I've done that once on Hubs and once on me within the last couple of weeks.  They can fall from the leaves when you're under a tree, or, I'm told, can be blown around in the wind.  Again, Oh, Goody.

It occurs to me how much we under-appreciate our skin when it's healthy.

Plodding along here.  Nearby Ponca City got 4-6" of rain yesterday in the wee hours of the morning.  Then it went north of us.  We went to Joplin for the day, after I watered the garden.  We needed a road trip and it doesn't take long to get to Joplin.  It's a nice journey and not too shabby as a destination, either.  Visited Carole, went shopping.  They had rain there.  Back home by early evening, still dry and hot as the bejeezers here. 

Carole took this pic while we were there.

This is one of those short posts I mentioned earlier.  Let me know if you like them better. 

Rock on, Peoples, stay safe and well, wherever you are.  Hugs xoxoxo


  1. I like them short, long or in between. What a good looking couple you are!

    I have been getting some itchy bites the last week or so. Probably chiggers. So far, no ticks.

    I gave up and came in after a short time of deadheading garlic. Too hot and humid here.

  2. Ticks!!! What a pest they are! They seem to like me better than they do the farmer. Old age has made it difficult to bend over and look for them. lol We're so dry here, and hot! My corn was the prettiest ever until it came time to put on ears, then no rain; I've seen only a few ears. The peas are loaded and I'm finally using our precious extra water supply (since we have baby chickens and don't use as much water) to put on them. I'd rather have the peas than the corn. I've saved water from the kitchen to put on some flowers, but today I just pulled the curtains so I wouldn't have to see them. I enjoyed seeing the picture; almost like meeting you in person.

  3. Good luck with your nasty biting beasties and I hope that you get some decent rain soon. That's a lovely photo of the two of you :-D Jo xx


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