Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Unwelcome Guests to Your Garden Party

We have a long holiday ahead of us with an opportunity to spend time cooking and eating outside while visiting with family and friends.  Last weekend, my husband and I attended a Family Reunion with church service and good food.  At a Memorial Service in an old cemetery, my husband sat down on a concrete bench when little girls from the Fancy Nancy's tea party crowd pointed out the chiggers.

Ouch!  The chiggers are nasty small red mites that are found in tall grass and weeds.  In most cases, the bites cause itching with swelling occurring several hours after the initial bite that is painless.  All of a sudden, you may develop a rash and you have no idea as to why.  Antihistamine,  corticosteroid cream, and calamine lotion may help in the treatment of bites from chiggers.

It is a myth that chiggers bury themselves into your skin and it is a cautionary old wife's tale to cover the affected area with nail polish to cut off oxygen for the chiggers.

Other unwelcome guests to your outing may be wasps and bees.  If you are stung by one of those, remove the stinger by scraping the area with your finger nail or using tweezers.  Try not to pinch the stinger which will eject even more venom.  Apply a mixture of baking soda and water or calamine lotion to the affected area.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife News for May 2013 provided an answer to a Kids' Quiz of how to get rid of ants including fire ants.  It suggested that you sprinkle yellow corn meal in a ring around the edges of the ant mound.  The ants will eat the corn meal that will swell up in their stomachs and kill them.  They will also carry the corn meal to their queen and it will kill her too.  You may need to sprinkle the corn meal around the mounds several times.

In general, if you live in an area with bug infestation, you may want to use a bug spray containing DEET as a prevention against attacks.  Avoid getting spray into your eyes.  Follow direction provided on the container.   When you are done with your out door activities, shower to remove the spray from your skin and launder your clothing.

Caution:  Some people have a severe reaction to chigger bites, bees and wasp stings as well as ants.  If a person has difficulty breathing or starts wheezing, or has difficulty talking, call your doctor or your emergency facility immediately.  Tightness in the throat may also develop.  Nausea and vomiting may also occur as well as a fast heartbeat.  Get medical help immediately.

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