I grew up in Western Oklahoma, where it was so arid we had little trouble with chiggers. When we went to visit relatives in Arkansas, it was another itchy story altogether and heaven for chiggers. We would have suffered hundreds of bites except for the wisdom of my mother and her poor but practical kinfolk. We always embarked on our trip well-armed. Upon arrival, before we were allowed outdoors, we were dusted on our feet, legs, and arms by a sock filled with sulfur powder. This was a daily occurrence after breakfast during our entire stay. I won’t say we never got a chigger bite, but it was rare.
The Oklahoma pest we most feared most were mosquitoes. Most of you have seen them, small irritations with an annoying bite. Many of the southern states I have visited have a version of this insect I consider on the wimpy side. Those where I grew up were formidable giants! Their buzz sounded like a freight train. Their bite felt like a sword striking a fatal blow. Crouched on the outside of our screen door, they appeared no less than Godzilla climbing the Empire State Building. Our mosquitoes used DEET for underarm deodorant. The only saving grace from them was our strong prevalent wind, blowing almost every day of the year. Though it was, in part, the cause of the “Dust Bowl” of the 1930s, we found its only saving grace was to ground flying pests.
Gnats? Oh, for pity’s sake! I almost forgot about gnats. Seeing a swarm of gnats coming toward you was a heart-stopper. I have been known to stop a tractor in the field, get off and run a distance away just to avoid getting in the middle of a cloud of gnats. Our gnats didn’t bite, as I recall; they just got in your eyes, nose, ears, and mouth and were the very definition of annoying.
No-See-Ums? Never seen one! I have been told that whenever I get bit, and I can’t identify the source, it is a “no-see-um”. If I can’t see bacteria, but am certain they are everywhere. I guess I will have to have the same faith that no-see-ums are out there too.
In Ellis County, near Rockett, we seem to have all these pests in abundance. And when I looked where these pests live, I found that they’re all over the world. Even places like Greenland, where I can’t imagine anything wanting to live.
I suppose in earlier centuries, folks just had to put up with most of these annoyances. Perhaps there were some home remedies and deterrents we no longer use. Now we have chemical sprays, electric traps, and other solutions to bring relief. One control I found works well for the acre surrounding our house is spreading 100 lbs of sulfur pellets in all the grassy areas. I apply it in the spring, and unless we have an unusually wet summer, it lasts until winter when the bugs freeze, thank you. It causes the ants, chiggers, fleas, ticks, and no-see-ums to migrate to all my neighbors. Let’s keep that our secret!
It doesn’t keep mosquitoes away, but as I said before, the ones we have are wimps. No fear here.