It’s Blackberry (and Chigger) Season!

>> Monday, July 6, 2009

The wild blackberries are ripening and I’ve gone blackberry picking 3 or 4 times now.  Hopefully, I’ll be going out again soon.


july 5th 004 july 5th 001

The down side of blackberry season is that it is also Chigger season! I have to agree with the comment made in various articles on the internet, there is probably no creature on earth that can cause as much torment for its size than the tiny chigger. Chiggers, Jiggers or Red Bugs, as they are commonly known, that cause all of the problems are the larvae stage.  The adults and nymphs are vegetarians but the larvae need an animal host to feed on.  I was always told that the little mites, which are about 1/20th of an inch long and can be seen only with a magnifying glass, burrowed into your skin.  Not true.  They pierce the skin and inject a salivary secretion that contains powerful digestive enzymes that break down skin cells.  The tissues become liquefied and are sucked up by the little chigger.  All of this causes a red welt to arise and intense itching.  The natural urge is to scratch, which can cause the skin to be broken and secondary infections can develop.  These welts can develop 3 to 6 hours after the little beast climbs aboard and often lasts for up to a week or more.

As I mentioned, chiggers are very tiny but upon magnification one will see that they are usually bright red and have hairy bodies.

chig2 This photo, taken from the internet, is of a chigger magnified 1500 times!

I found a poem that tells it like it is.  I was given permission by the author, Jerry Schieicher, to share it.  You can find this and other poems written by Jerry on his page of the cowboy poetry web site.

The Chigger Blues

I ain't a'feered of snakes ner spiders, and ticks don't make me twitch.
I kin roll around nekked in a poison ivy patch and never even itch.
I ain't skeered much of lions ner tigers, or other carnivores much bigger.
The only critter that gives me the chills ... is the cold-hearted chigger.
They ain't no bigger than a dot. Most folks have never seen one.
You don't even know they bit ya', till they've already et' and gone.
And drilled yer skin with a bitin' end that's part needle and part digger.
Pound fer pound, the baddest bug around ... has got to be the chigger.
They crawl inside yer pants and socks, and creep into yer underdrawers.
And commence to have a feast, while yer doin' yer gardenin' chores.
It seems their spit dissolves yer hide, which they then consume with vigor.
Fer an arachnid version of the vampire ... I nominate the chigger.
I still got scars up 'n down my carcass that I reckon I'll bear fer years.
From clawin' at the welts they've left, from my toes up past my rear.
The itch they leave behind lasts much longer than you'd figger.
If you want to drive a man insane ... jist feed him to a chigger.
I've tried that nail polish myth, and doused myself with lotion.
But nuthin' seem to keep 'em off. There ain't no magic potion.
And steppin' out into my own back yard only seems to trigger
A fresh attack by my worst nightmare ... the man-eatin' chigger.
Most folks love the summer season, and fer most it's all good news.
Of flower gardens, fresh-mowed lawns, and backyard bar-be-cues.
But if you invite me to yer outdoor games, I'll respectfully refuse.
Cause you don't want to hear me wailin', as I sing the chigger blues.
© 2005, Jerry Schleicher
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Anna July 10, 2009 at 6:45 AM  

That settles it - I'm not going blackberry picking with you!

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