Chiggers or Red Bugs

Chiggers are tiny little reddish mites that live in grass and woodsy areas that love love love to sneak up under your clothes, preferably along a bra, underwear or sock line where its warm and snug. 
The common Southern solution for bites is to apply a dab of nail polish. The idea is that the mite has burrowed into the skin and the nail polish seals off its oxygen supply so it dies. Apparently this is a myth. According to several recent articles on the subject, by the time the bite itches, the mite has moved on or been washed off. It can take 24 to 48 hours for the itching to start.  The mite didn’t burrow in at all, but secreted a skin liquefying substance around a hair follicle, and drinks the juice.  The nail polish method does stop the itching, but so would a cortisone cream or a dab of meat tenderizer.
  When going in the woods, it’s best to use an insect repellent and tuck your pants into your socks so the ticks and mites don’t have easy access. If you plan on a picnic, do set out a blanket. Resting on a big log while wearing short shorts a tank top is an invitation for the bugs to convene for their own picnic.
But don’t make this  a reason to avoid a lovely hike in the woods.  
I’m not crazy about chemical stuff, there are some less toxic products available that work pretty well. And best to take a shower with a mildly abrasive soap or brush as soon as you can after your hike. 
Chigger bites itch like all get out, but unless you are prone to skin rashes and allergies, they aren’t usually any more harmful or lasting than mosquito bites. 

 

 

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