$newsid = ''; ?> At last night's weblogger meetup the conversation was about itchy and annoying topics like mosquitoes, chiggers and Movable Type licensing policy.
Chiggers, for those of you fortunate enough not to know, are microscopic bugs which may be even worse than mosquitoes in making life miserable in the summer months here in Texas, at least for people who leave the pavement for the woods and tall grass. Instead of flying and biting, chiggers crawl onto your body and make itchy bumps wherever your clothes are tight, especially the waist, crotch and armpits. Imagine mosquito bites on your tender bits and you'll get the idea.
Contrary to popular opinion, chiggers do not burrow into the skin nor do they feed on blood. Instead, chiggers inject a digestive fluid containing enzymes that cause skin cells to rupture. The fluids from the skin cells are then consumed as food. The injected enzymes cause the skin to become red, swollen and itchy. The itch may last for several days and will persist even after the chigger has detached from the skin.
So much for the remedy I was taught as a child, to cover the spot with Elmer's glue and smother the chigger.
Iowa State is silent about Chris's suggestion for the prevention of chigger and mosquito bites: brewer's yeast milkshakes for a vitamin B boost. I wonder how that's supposed to work -- could you put vitamin B in a spray and use it topically, or is it less about repelling bugs than making your body produce less of whatever attracts them? This is a pressing topic for me right now, as Inside Books is one of the most mosquito-infested places I've been lately despite the Rhizome Collective's claimed interest in biological pest control. I used to believe in citronella and lemongrass as mosquito repellants but now I think they're just placebos.
P.S. I'm tempted to repeat as a sociolinguistic curiosity a racist pun about chiggers that was common in my elementary school. It's not quite as bad as you're probably thinking but almost. If you must know what it is, ask me privately -- there are some things I just won't say in earshot of Google.