Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Here is a bit of free advice: do not go online to identify the spider who bit you. The images you find will make you ill. Seriously, why do we spend zillions on high tech weaponry?  Just unleash a load of biting insects on the enemy and you win.

Last week I went to a  very nice neighborhood along the shores of a beautiful
mountain lake. There I carefully noted the wish list for a porch addition to the
existing house. One of the things the owner said, which I did not take seriously enough, was she loved being outside but did not love insect bites.
In fact she said, " I am not from here. I do wish my realtor had mentioned  the need for a screened porch in this part of the world. Of course we do have these wrap around lake side decks but we never use them. If I had been informed I would have never bought a property without a screened porch."

After our chat about the scope of  the project I went  outside to start all the measuring and photographing  necessary to construct an addition. I was wearing long pants, thick socks, hiking boots and a shirt  with sleeves rolled and tabbed to three quarter length. I started the measuring on the decks before descending to the ground to measure for footers and so forth.  It was a beautiful day, in a beautiful location with a beautiful design taking place in my mind as I measured .

When I returned inside the client and I enjoyed a glass of lemonade tea  while we reviewed design options.
It is always important to integrate an addition so it will look correct architecturally, will have good flow, will not block the view of the lake from most of the water side rooms and will be large enough to meet the identified needs.

As I was reaching for my glass the client suddenly said, " Oh dear!" then stood and left the room. She returned with a tube of cortizone ointment  and said ,  "Let's get this on you right away." I had no clue what was happening. " Your arm," she said pointing. There in the middle of  my left forearm two red welts were rising.  "I believe these are spider bites. I don't really know what kind of spiders they are. We never see them and we never feel the bite when they happen. But tomorrow you will be suffering. I am so sorry. I really do need a porch! Is there a screen which will make a porch an insect free zone?"

Still looking at may arm I asked the client if she had any tea bags. She did and we promptly microwaved one in some water and placed  the hot tea bag compress on my arm while we continued our meeting. As I was saying my good byes she said,
" I hate you have these spider bites but at least you did not step into the chiggers."

" The chiggers are much worse bites than the spiders, it takes weeks for those wounds to heal. Really, if I had known this region was so buggy I would not be living here. There is no way we can leave without a loss if we can sell at all. I am hoping the porch will be the way to enjoy this beautiful spot. I think this house was built on top of Pandora's box!"

For a brief moment I felt intense hostility toward this woman. If she knew her property was a high risk insect zone why did she not offer me some deet before letting me outside to measure?

" Actually a screened porch can offer only so much protection from insects. It sounds like you have multiple infestations  which need attention. Do you have a pest control program? "

" Well, yes we do. Because we are on the lake we limit our treatments to natural or green corrections."
" Corrections seem a bit optimistic. Maybe you could ask your service to either come more often or  use other methods."

Her damn chiggers rode home with me, apparently having crawled round the top of my boot munching away.
My right ankle is ringed with chigger bites, My left ankle has a few and some of the more adventurous critters made the journey to the back of my left knee.  My left forearm remains welted and swollen from the spider bites while my right forearm is  rashed  in what the docs are guessing was from a poisonous plant.

I have had the Fizz fumigated. Since I did not know about the chiggers until the next day, my bathroom had to be fumigated while all the laundry in the hamper had to be fumigated and put through a 2 hour sanitizing steam cycle in the new washer. The bedding has been stripped, the mattresses fumigated, the sofa slipcovers removed and sanitized, the curtains sanitized the rugs sent out for cleaning.

The docs wanted me to have a steroid dose pack. I declined but,
 I do have prescription meds for what has been classified as a " systemic response to multiple toxins". Seems my body just does not know how to deal with chiggers, spiders and plant poisons simultaneously. There is a table top of pills, unguents, sprays. So far none of the sites have become infected . This is a victory. But I still itch. Intensely. Everywhere.

The day after our appointment I called the client to suggest she have the service come out immediately to deal with her infestations. I related  to her the difficulties I was experiencing . She offered sympathy.
I did wonder if she realized our on site appointment for her porch addition had cost  hundreds of dollars  for the visit to the UrgentCare Center plus prescriptions and, an immeasurable amount of misery? I am trying to not be angry with this woman but in all truth ...  I'd like to plant her in her own back yard.


Buzz Kill said...

Yeah, it's been a really bad year for insects. We've only dined on the deck a handful of times because you can't stay out for more than half an hour - even with me spraying sevin every month and 8 citronella candles. The Pudge went camping last weekend and they had a lot of bees and poison ivy at the campsite. Fortunately, he returned unscathed.

Sorry to hear the bugs got you. Take it easy and try not to scratch.

Oh, when I saw the title of your post, I thought maybe someone went all Kathy Bates on you. Bwahahaha

fishy said...

Until now, I have never had a chigger bite. This is a hellified experience I hope to never repeat. The truth is I might like to go all Bates on this client!

Island Rider said...

Oh no! I didn't realize you had chiggers right now! They are terrible. You are likely going to need the steroids. That is the only way we all got over them when we got them last year at Lake Lure. Tim's fiancée still has scars from them.

fishy said...

yep the doc says there will be scars.
But, there are no infections and no ruptured skin areas. My right ankle is so swollen from all the bites/poison it is twice the normal size. I am still resisting the steroids.

Rebecca said...

ouch hope you feel better soon
Come Say HI

Jenny said...

this is why I'm afraid to visit Chickory in the Summer. BUGS. and bugs that eat people. Chiggers and the whole idea of them freak me out. are you better today? :-(

fishy said...

Did you finally get your head off the pillow? Glad to see you are out and about again.

I am better although I am weary of the side effects of antihistimines. I am however, glad there are antihistimine drugs or I would be crazed.

So nice to see you my friend!

The odd reality here is I have lived in the South my entire life and this is my first encounter with a chigger never mind a nest of them. I am still horrified by the doctors instructions of what I should do if there is suddenly "mush where once there was flesh".

Seriously, this is worse than reading Poe or O Henry.

I am not joking when I say we need not spend zillions on high tech weapons. If NATO had dispersed chiggers in the Taliban camps of Pakistan and Afghanistan our military would have been home in 6 months or less.

Aunty Belle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aunty Belle said...


Ain't chiggers them thangs ya' paint wif fangernail polish? Smothers 'em?

Fishy, real sorry fer yore sufferin'. Ain't never had no chigggers either, Southern tho I be. Onc't Uncle got into a mess of em', all round the waistline of his jeans--he were one miserable fella fer a long while.

Spiders an' me doan dance too well. I ain't bein' funny, I mean this in all due seriousness: I can hear a spider scream.

This has happened on several occasions--I'll wake from a dead sleep an' know a spider is nearby. How does I know? 'Cause the freaky dang thangs scream, thas' why.

Last time this happened wuz October last year in yore neck o' the woods--up in Nawth Carolina. I heard it, sat bolt up right from a dawg dead sleep, flipped on the light, Uncle yelps "It's the middle of the night, whaddya' doin'??"

"Aloysius, git yore shoe-- somewhar' thar's a spider in heah." He moans...but, he's been through it afore--shure 'nuff, Fishy, we sit still lookin' around, an this cabin we's in has a bedroom door what leads out to the porch--and on the door jamb is a half-dollar size arachnid doin' push ups.

fishy said...

Thanks for the good wishes, I need every dang one of 'em.

About hearing spiders .... well don't you know I too have heard the squeal of a spider. Outside.
I went on the Swamp Garden walk at Magnolia Plantation near Charleston. There was a spider as big as my head which had strung up a web between Cypress tress which was big enough to catch a human. It took me a while to figure out the sound I was hearing was coming from that ginormous spider. It still makes me queasy to think about.

moi said...

Oh, goodness, I nearly passed out from Aunty's last quote. I loves me some Mother Nature, but draw the line at creepy crawly things the size of a hub cap. One of the reasons why I refuse to move to the South.

How you feeling today?

fishy said...

Nice to see you out and about!
There is progress to report! The intensity of the itching is in decline, the poison ivy is resolving, the spider bites are not necrotic (a victory!)

The remaining issue of misery is those awful chigger places which are now huge, raised blisters with surrounding tissues swollen tight as a drum in a kaleidoscope of red, yellow, black and purple ugliness.

Today is the last day of the prescription meds so tomorrow will be the test of improvements.

I agree, Aunty hearing spiders scream in the night is daunting.

Island Rider said...

So, did you get the decorating job? :0) feeling any better.

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