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Chiggers, coffee, seedlings, gardens, hummers, etc.

Posted Monday, April 20, 2009, at 9:51 AM

A few years back my brother in law came to visit in July and when our dog and cat came up missing he helped look for them in our woods. It never dawned on me to prepare him for chiggers. He swears he will never be back.

I get a few bites from them and ticks during the year but if I know I am going to be walking in brush, tall grass etc. I prepare for them. Well, I forgot. I really wasn't in the woods or in tall grass but I reworked the flower bed around our mailbox and DID NOT PREPARE.

It did not even dawn on me when I started itching, but it wasn't long before the bell went off. Anyone with a good dose of chiggers knows what I am talking about and if you don't know, pray you never will.

But other than that, the weekend went well. Got more seeds planted, more have sprouted and I prepared a tray of potting soil and soaked it overnight for the next round of seeds. I noticed that yellow squash and zucchinis beat the Oriental squash I planted at the same time.

In fact, I just went out to see if they had popped up overnight. Nope. While I was out, I also put more water on the seed starting mix. Sometimes that peat moss is tough to get wet.

Richard sent me an update on his garden and I will be posting it soon to our Weed'em and Reap page. I sure am envious of his soil, but as he points out, it did not just happen and is a continuous work in progress.

I brewed a 'cup of Joe' a little while back and the smell of the coffee sure had me reminiscing for our coffee shops. My wife does not even like coffee but she has to agree that the smell is great. Here are some ideas on how that terminology 'cup of Joe' came about. http://ask.yahoo.com/20061016.html

I mentioned that I have the hummingbird feeder up. Well, make it two feeders right now. The hummers were picking on each other so much, I put up another. The crazy birds came to the new one and ignored the other. Maybe they liked the warmth of the fresh sugar brew. (not hot, just warm)

I was curious if the constant fighting was really fighting or courtship. It seems that it could be both, but I noticed that suddenly the fighting seemed to stop and they were sharing opposite sides of the feeder. In the process of answering a few more questions of my own about hummers, I ran across this site for the Ruby Throat which in prominent in our area. http://www.rubythroat.org/Contents.html Be sure to look at some of their trip notes into Guatemala.

Have a good Monday, scratch, scratch.

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Steve, we likewise have up two feeders right now, one red and one yellow. Our first hummers showed up on the 18th, and they seem to be equally attracted to both of the feeders.

-- Posted by leeiii on Mon, Apr 20, 2009, at 11:40 AM

I have three feeders up. Two in the front of the house and one in back. Strategically placed so I can see them while watching TV or doing dishes. Our hummers showed up 2 weeks ago. I have had as many as 8 at a time "Dancing" round the same feeder. I also had my first tick bite after cleaning out some fence rows. AARGH.

-- Posted by Equinepro on Mon, Apr 20, 2009, at 12:16 PM

My mom has two on her front porch that she refilled early Sat. morning. We got back to her house Sat aft. and one was just about empty from all of the bees swarming around it. They were mostly at one station but it was covered.

This was a new feeder and I wondered if maybe that station was leaking and that's why they were swarming to it. She has never had that problem before with any of her feeders.

-- Posted by EastSideMom on Mon, Apr 20, 2009, at 1:53 PM

If it was almost empty, I would suspect a leak. Are ants on the ground underneath, or the bees?

-- Posted by stevemills on Mon, Apr 20, 2009, at 3:02 PM

Baby guineas will eat chiggers like a kid with M&M's.

(I dunno about anyone else.)

Cold packs,instant tea poultices,cortisone,anti-histamines,vinegar,calamine,benzyl benzoate,jewel weed,tea tree oil and oatmeal are some of the remedies that can help the bites.

(But,I think the irritation may have to wear off,really.)

There ought to be a law that no one can become a snack for a blood-drinker unless the one doing the biting is charming,heroic,attractive,sleeps days and casts no reflection.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Mon, Apr 20, 2009, at 5:06 PM

My wonderful (NOT) brother had my boys for a long weekend in KY last summer. He was/is building a house on a lake and they were clearing a lot of brush...the boys came home with chigger bites ALL OVER (down below!) :( NOT good! And talk about some major swelling! Oh my goodness did I feel sorry for them...I've been there and it's NOT been fun!

-- Posted by neighborhood mom on Mon, Apr 20, 2009, at 8:40 PM

Not sure Steve. They were hanging over a flower box plus I didn't try to get too close. We went in the back door. HA!

-- Posted by EastSideMom on Mon, Apr 20, 2009, at 9:18 PM

I filled one humming bird feeder. And never saw one. The next thing I knew the feeder was bone dry. hhmmmmmm sneaky lil things.

-- Posted by Wheelbillie on Mon, Apr 20, 2009, at 10:01 PM


For the chiggers, start a hot bath and pour epsom salt in the tub. Soak in it for a while. That will usually kill the chiggers. You may still itch a little, but you won't have to worry about the same chiggers getting you again. Sometimes I have to soak twice.

By the way, chiggers don't bite.

I found some Pineapple Sage at the Wal-Mart in Smyrna. I haven't planted it yet, but if there is more than one, I'll bring it to the next meeting.

Anyone have experience with 'Bee Balm'? It said it was a relative of the mint family and I want to make sure it doesn't spread like most mint.

-- Posted by espoontoon on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 6:50 AM

Yeah,I read that they make a sort of hard straw in your skin (the itchy part that can be mistaken for the chigger that's really already left) and drink through it.

Scratching the "straw" out just releases more of the chigger's irritating liquid into the flesh and can let germs in.

(I wasn't sure if I could say the little blood-drinkers s--k in a family newspaper,though.)

Epsom salts are good for this sort of thing and,I believe papain (papaya) or Accent is also.

The same stuff that tenderizes meat breaks down the itchy proteins of mosquitoes,chiggers,etc. if put on the wounds as one might baking soda or oats.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 7:27 AM

Terminating them is my concern, The itch is irritating, but I can work through it, I just don't want more, so Epsom salt will be tried tonight. Last night Debbi painted me with fingernail polish. Not a pretty site.

I went looking for my Bee Balm seeds when you asked the question, but I think I planted them already in with my wildflowers. I never felt they were invasive, but I tend to be lenient with volunteers.

Some people DO consider it mildly invasive, so I think it might depend on how hospitable your soils and micro-environment is to it. Mine has actually disappeared, so that is why I am reseeding. Hmmmm, maybe I was inhospitable.

What exactly DO chiggers do? I keep forgetting so maybe I really don't want to know. I am not sure if I have ever actually seen one, just felt their activity.

I have tried some store treatments, but that seems to feed them and they get me again. Do regular tea bags help? Green tea or dark?

-- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 7:44 AM

Steve: some interesting facts about the hated Chigger.



-- Posted by 4fabfelines on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 8:37 AM

That is an interesting article, but it made me wonder if the welts are really from chiggers so I went to research jigger flea or the chigoe as they referenced. These are apparently in sandy soil in the tropics, so we do not qualify. Sooo we are back to the chigger.

The bottom line from the article is to wear tight clothing, remove the clothing and wash both you and clothing as soon as possible and if you get bit, anti itch ointments is about all you can do except wait and DON'T SCRATCH.

Another precaution is to use a deterrent application that you might use for tick or mosquitoes, OR a sulfur product which might repel people as well.

I take a lot of garlic ( which can also repel people) and I rarely get bit and Debbi doesn't and she ALWAYS gets bit, even if it is snowing! BUT this time, I GOT BIT or fed upon or whatever the technical term is and it ITCHES!

-- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 2:40 PM

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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.