Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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Nature Bulletin No. 24   July 21, 1945
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Clayton F. Smith, President
Roberts Mann, Superintendent of Conservation

You see a lot of people scratching themselves every Monday morning these days. It's nothing to be ashamed of; it' s not even funny. Those people happen to be susceptible to "chiggers" which crawl on them as they lie on the grass, or work in the garden, or walk through tall grass and weeds. Chiggers are really harvest-ites, so small they scarcely can be seen by the naked eye, immature six-egged forms of various mites that attach themselves like ticks to the skin and gorge themselves with blood.

"Chigger" is probably a corruption of "chigoe" and "jigger", two names for a small flea found in the West Indies and tropical America, which burrows beneath the toenails and skin of the feet to cause painful, sometimes serious ulcers.

In the insect world, mites are related to scorpions, spiders and the "grand-daddy long-legs". Some are parasitic on animals, including humans, birds and reptiles. Mites frequently kill young chickens and other birds. Some are parasitic on living plants; the best known being the so-called "Red Spider" that damages fruit trees and such garden plants as tomatoes. Others feed on dead animal or vegetable matter, and some are found in cheese, sugar and preserved meats.

The only sure cure for chiggers is time, although some people claim to get early relief from applying liquid skin or nail polish to each tiny red spot. Others use bacon rind; others turpentine. The best preventive is "flower of sulfur" dusted inside one's clothing; particularly stockings, socks

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