I’m not talking about a dance.  You’re thinking of the jig – that popular Irish dance where you skip, leap, and kick.  Well, it turns out you might look like you’re doing the jig during that time of the year when chiggers are here.  You see, April showers don’t just bring May flowers in Texas.  Every spring, even though we’ve now lived where chiggers live for many years, we somehow forget.  The chigger is the larval stage of a mite that bites from late spring to fall in humid areas with thick vegetation.  And, it’s easy to forget about them.  They’re not visible to the naked eye.  In fact, they’re smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.  Chiggers infest your skin when you come in contact with them waiting for you in grassy fields.  The creepiest thing about them is that they crawl under your garments in search of the best place to do what chiggers do.  You can’t feel them so you don’t know they’re exploring your body.  You are left with intensely itchy red blister-like sores that take up to two weeks to heal.  One evening a few years ago, I gasped, “Chiggers!” when I was helping my youngest daughter, who was four years old at the time, change into her pajamas.  There were red bumps all along her underwear line!  I’ll never forget my daughter’s response, especially because of her age at the time, “Those bugs like my private parts, mommy! It’s very inappropriate of them!”  There’s actually a reason – chiggers have delicate feeding structures so they like areas of thinner skin and will seek them out once on you.  So, you often find bites in unmentionable places around the crotch and groin area.  Even though that makes sense, it certainly doesn’t make it okay.  Early in our years in Texas, when we didn’t know we needed to be on the lookout for things we couldn’t see, my husband went on a wilderness medicine overnight exercise and decided to sleep out under a stunning starry sky.  The next day, his heads, shoulders, knees and toes, and more, were covered in chigger bites.  For weeks later, people stared, refusing to shake his extended hand, questioning, “Is that contagious?”  Somehow, even the memory of that fades, and for two weeks in early spring of every year, our family looks like we’re practicing the jig as we itch and try not to itch.  We tally our sores and compare the score to see who will have the most sleepless nights.  For some reason, chigger sores seem itchiest at night.  And so, from that day on, we spray our muck boots and overalls with bug repellent whenever we head out to the garden or pastures.  Even though they’re out of sight, chiggers are again on our mind…for a time.

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