Friday, March 18, 2011

A Tribute to Chiggers

This one is for you, my sweet friend, you know who you are. I have written your request: “A Chigger Dissertation.” Let’s talk about chiggers.
First and foremost, as irritating as they are, I must say, I love that name/word: “chiggers.” It has a neat ring to it and it is even a bit funny to hear and say.
I have never given chiggers a lot of thought, in fact, I know no one who has given them much thought. I have recently, however, had reason to think about this little creature who is so tiny he . . . or she . . . or it (does it even have a gender?) is not able to be seen with the human eye. That is small!
At one time I wrote a few questions I have that I would love to ask God, and a little chigger would fall into one of the categories. The question was, “What is the purpose of annoying little things like fleas, ticks, lice and chiggers?”
They seem to have no function or ability other than to be a bother, kind of like the appendix. It is small and has no known purpose for survival as an organ other than to rupture and make us sick or even kill us. Therefore, I can not help but wonder; why did God go to the trouble of creating these things?
Well, I have an answer, my fellow confused people, maybe not the correct answer, but one that could be the answer! All these things are small and we see them as insignificant. They are annoying and beneath us. We are bigger, smarter and more powerful . . . Or, so we think. I suspect a chigger’s purpose is God’s little way of teaching us to have respect for the little things.


You see, I went for a visit to see my friend in, of all places, Chicago, Illinois. Not the wilderness, but Chicago. We did not go hiking or do any landscaping. In fact, I did not even walk through her grass. I arrived and left by walking on the concrete drive/sidewalk and into the house, never through a chigger environment. When we got the kids to bed, we did sit outside at night, but on the deck.
During this visit, I became stricken with painful, annoying, itching spots all over my body. There were a few at first then a total of over forty, only on my feet and legs. Soon, they were on my back and arms . . . even on my hands, and of all places . . . my fingers!
“MISERY . . . I am in MISERY!”
They made an itch, a deep, intense itch that overtook my body and brain. I had to scratch harder, until it hurt, simply to reach a level of relief and satisfaction. The bites even bled and actually scarred my skin. At one point, I felt a bit sick, as though I had a poison in my body injected by whatever had attacked me.
I had not seen a bug/insect on me and never dreamed the bites would be from chiggers because of the part of the country I was staying. Then, my friend developed a similar problem. We soon heard that indeed, restaurants had closed their outdoor seating due to . . . chiggers.
NOW we were in a conversation. Our lives had been affected, our comfort had been interrupted, our skin had the look of leprosy, and we were scratching ourselves like dogs.
Dignity is difficult to have at this point; we are desperate for a cure. I began to research chiggers because no one seemed to know much about them.
Were we targets of attack or were we a tasty feast? Was their intention to inflict pain and injury, or were they hungry? I heard they burrow into our skin. I heard they stick a little straw in our skin. I heard that clear nail polish will kill them.
I needed answers . . . I needed the truth!
What is up with this annoying little insect? In fact, I am not sure it is even big enough to be called an insect, and I think its title is a “mite.”
I agree with that word: M-I-T-E, another spelling, M-I-G-H-T.
Its meaning: “Great power and physical strength.”
Yes, the mite has “might.”
I now acknowledge its power and strength. I respect you, tiny chigger . . . You are my inspiration, my guru.
Let us learn from a little chigger. It can not speak or even be seen, but it is a great teacher. I see this all now, God, loud and clear . . . gotcha.
Small does not mean weak, large does not mean powerful. I want to be like a chigger; not in a bad, annoying way, but in a different way.

As I helplessly sit with my body covered in obvious signs of the presence of something I never even saw, I acknowledge the little things DO indeed exist and can be very powerful. The chiggers have left their mark, made their power and presence known to me and all who see my skin.
I am also “small;” a small person in size, but also in the world. I am like many who think her existence can not possibly be profound enough to affect a life. I like that even the most powerful, wealthy man or woman can be brought to his/her knees by a small, insignificant, tiny CHIGGER.
There is coincidentally no known cure for chiggers other than time.
That is right, your massive amounts of money and intelligence will do you no good at the hands of a tiny chigger. They do stick a little straw-like thing in you. It is used it to take what they want and inject what they want to and from your body, and then they go about their merry way. Intensifying its host’s helplessness, this little inserted straw can not be seen by the human eye or be removed if we wanted to try. We have to wait until our bodies break it down and absorb it before the itch goes away.
The crazier part is that chiggers get to us by accident. Their preferred host is a reptile or bird. (According to one article.) They search for the soft, thinner skin areas to get their little mission accomplished, which happen to be the most sensitive, WORST places to be itching! Even more amazing, is that the discomfort typically does not begin until about three hours after they have done their deed.
Chiggers are not like ticks who attach themselves to us and we get the satisfaction of discovering them, plucking them out and putting them to death by the rewarding means of a match or drowning them in alcohol. Oh no, a chigger can be easily swiped off . . . if you only knew it was on you to begin with!


This is how I see myself, and you . . . and every other human person. We are indeed small, insignificant creatures; but that does not mean we are not capable of affecting someone’s life in a profound way. Granted, our purpose is not to make them itch, (though there are people I would like to inflict a good dose of itching every now and then. But I must leave that job to my little chigger friends.) My job, as small as I am in this big world, is to make my presence and existence known by going out and doing what God created me to do and leave people with the knowledge and memory that I was and am here for a purpose.
We can all say with a smile, “I am who God made me.”
I have a legacy to leave and so do you. When I think of a chigger, I think of SEVERE itching and truly KNOW what they do with their time and their life. What will people think of when they hear my name or think of me?
I hope it is as memorable, only in a good way, as when I think of a CHIGGER!

Kasi M. Bryon
© 2008

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