The Worst Berry
Berry Bugs. In the UK they are referred to as Harvest Mites. Here in the states we call the Chiggers. No matter what you call them, we can all agree they are terrible.
It’s that time of year again. Time when these horrible little beasts wait patiently for some unsuspecting person or animal to walk by their perch so that they may reach out and ruin someone’s day… and week.
From the family trombiculidae, they live in forests and grasslands and most places there is vegetation. They are most numerous in early summer when grass, weeds, and other vegetation are heaviest.
In their larval stage, they crawl onto their hosts and inject digestive enzymes into the skin that break down skin cells. They do not actually "bite", but instead form a hole in the skin, called a stylostome, and chew up tiny parts of the inner skin. This causes severe irritation and itching.
These relatives of ticks are nearly microscopic, measuring 1/60 of an inch, and have a red to orange color. If they weren’t so horrific they would be pretty.
Alas, by the time most humans start to itch, the larvae have already gotten what they needed and have fallen onto the ground to continue their life cycle. Alas, no need to cover yourself in fingernail polish! A hot shower and topical medicines help with the itching and the skin should heal itself within a week or two!
Janet Douberly has not encountered any chiggers at Downtown Greens.
This article was originally published in the July 2023 edition of Front Porch Magazine. Read the full publication by using the link below.