I scratched and itch at the crook of my elbow. Mi Sun’s fur had sort of tickled my arm. Itching it made it worse and when I looked down there was a field of small bumps from the crease outward to just where my T-shirt sleeve started. Drat! What’s this? The welts lingered where I scratched and I willed the itch to be gone, which it mostly did.
A diagnosis was required. Not mosquito bites. Too many and no sign of any mosquitos in the house. Not fleas. We use Revolution. Not a spider bite. Too many over too wide an area and I am sensitive to spider bites since I got a serious poison spider bite years ago. I never saw the spider to identify it, only that it was in Texas and out in nature, rather than a black widow hangout, like a basement or barn.
That leaves chiggers. Looked kind of like chiggers. A check of the internet shows people’s legs looking like they have a ghastly tropical disease. This is not the work of the chiggers but the result of scratching instead of downing a Benadryl or slapping on some calamine lotion. Chiggers are arachnids, like spiders, but so tiny they are invisible without magnification. Mi Sun’s ears were clean. Chiggers go to the ears in cats. They are mites, like the ear mites cats sometimes get, and that’s the best place for them to feed.
So it’s important to clean it up fast before the cats get itchy ears. Further on line research gives a number of essential oils and soap and hot water as the remedies, even on the medical sites. The nerd in me wonders where I picked them up on my arms because the usual places on the body are the lower legs, crotch area, and waist. A trip down the Google search rabbit hole takes me to an article in Purdue news from almost twenty years ago. One of their extension entomologists, by the name of Tim Gibb, gave me the answer I sought. “There’s just something about blackberry habitats that chiggers love,” Gibb says. I was out in my blackberry thicket, cutting back the dead canes. Though I was right about resisting the scratching. “Scratching the bite can cause it to become infected,” Gibb says. “Just keep it clean, and avoid scratching it, and in a couple of days it’ll go away. In the meantime, enjoy the blackberry cobbler – it may keep your mind off the itching.” My blackberries are in the freezer. I planned that cobbler for January. Instead I reached for the lavender essential oil and doused my invisible predators. Who needs the movie version when I have real battles here at home?