Chigger Fest: A Kristull Chronicle

You can drive across the state of Texas for 12 hours and still not cross a border into another state. What is it about Texas that makes people long to move here? Is it Cowboys with a capital C? Horses in wild colors? Warm weather? Graceful windmills on rolling hills as far as the eye can see? Vast expanses of blooming purple sage?

I know what it ISN’T: It isn’t thorny mesquite trees and it sure isn’t CHIGGERS!!

When I came to Texas from Colorado at the tender age of 23, I expected all of the romance of creaking leather and lowing cattle, and horses, and warm sunshine. No more snow for me.

But I had some surprises in store. Colorado – at least the high altitude Colorado – has practically no bugs. I had never seen a roach or a water bug, a flea or a scorpion. And I had certainly never experienced a chigger. (I’m not sure they come in the singular.)

Chiggers are TINY little tick-like critters that live in unseen nests in tall, wild grasses or dense leafy areas that have not been tamed. They lay their eggs and leave their larvae to catch an unsuspecting passer-by, crawl unnoticed up their legs, burrow into the skin and live off of digesting skin cells until they mature. Am I sharing too much?

Let’s just say that a chigger bite is a week-long agony of scratching until you bleed and then scratching some more. You look like you had measles all over your legs or body, and you fear the scars will never fade.

Chiggers Love Me! Not everyone seems to get them as frequently or as severely as I do. I can’t explain the difference, but I am frequently the only victim out of several people who trod the same ground at the same time.

Most of the Kristull has been tamed and domesticated, but the early Spring rains and fast-growing pastures still offer an occasional opportunity to meet a tiny, red-headed Texas native – up close and personal. Don’t go out unarmed! A colt revolver won’t do you much good, but a can of OFF can save the day – or the week.

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