Sometimes Farm Life Bugs Me

      50 Comments on Sometimes Farm Life Bugs Me

As if the chigger bites I picked up over the weekend weren’t bad enough, some other form of bug life had a go at my arm yesterday evening as I was playing a round of frisbee golf.  I thought I saw something fly towards me out of the corner of my eye, but it could have been a spider hanging from a web that was being blown my way.  In either case, before I had time to react, I felt something like a pin-prick on the back of my arm.  I know it wasn’t a wasp, because a wasp sting feels nothing like a pin-prick.

I don’t know if I was bitten or stung, but the entire back of my arm is red and itchy today, with a brighter red patch in the area where the little @#$%er got me.  You can see how much the redness has spread better in the picture below, which shows my natural skin tone on the top of my arm.

I still love living in the country, but I could do without the aggressive bugs.


50 thoughts on “Sometimes Farm Life Bugs Me

  1. Lucy

    Ouch! Once upon a time we lived in Thomasville, Ga. We were always told “Gotta watch out for those chiggers”. We lived in a very “woodsy” area. Thankfully, we never experienced what a chigger felt like!

    Keep that streak going. Chigger bites aren’t fun, but whatever bit or stung the back of my arm was worse than chiggers.

  2. Heidi P.

    Yikes, that IS bad! Benadryl? Hope that’s the worst it gets. Living in the country is worth it though, I agree!

    We certainly have more bugs here, but I’ve been bitten by chiggers and stung by wasps living in the suburbs. If you’ve got grass and trees, you’ve got bugs.

  3. Valerie

    Gadzooks! It looks like your arm is about to fall off.

    I feel your pain though. Ever since changing my diet, I feel like bugs are MORE attracted to me for some reason.

  4. Suzie

    Do the bugs just like you or are they picking on the rest of the family too?

    We’ve all ended with a few bites, but I seem to be their favorite target.

  5. Carole

    Oh. My. You are taking (or have taken?) benadryl, or some other anti-histamine, yes? I (yes, I am a confessed worry-wart, but still) would strongly recommend that you run those photos by your doc fairly soon and maybe ask for an epi-pen…that looks suspiciously like an allergic reaction to whatever got you, and allergic reactions can get worse with successive exposure…

    You do too many people too much good (without even mentioning your sweet family!) to keel over in the middle of your next round!! 🙂

    I may run these pictures by a doc and see if that prompts an order to come in. I don’t feel dizzy, nauseated, or much of anything besides itchy at this point, so I haven’t been too worried.

  6. Angela

    sure looks like a spider bite. we’ve had a rash of them this year (pun intended) in our north texas backwater. the good news is, only two spiders are really dangerous, and neither one likes frisbee golf.

    I don’t think it was a brown recluse or black widow because I was out in the middle of a sunny field when I felt the bite or sting. Those two spiders tend to hide in dark corners, bushes, etc.

  7. Bullinachinashop

    Wow, that thing didn’t miss you. Either you’re allergic or that thing had venom.

    I’m guessing something with venom.

  8. NadoDawg

    Dude…, Love your Blog – but,
    It’s OK to slather up with Cutter’s or Deep Woods Off once in a while. i hope there is no Lyme disease in your area…

    If I’m working around the trees or bushes, I spray up. When I play frisbee golf, I come home and immediately remove all clothes, take a shower, then have Chareva check me for ticks. I hadn’t anticipated a flying attacker.

  9. Marilyn

    Egad! A hit and run bite! You might want to consider keeping some benadryl on hand in case you have an allergic reaction to one of these critters.

    Chareva picked some up yesterday.

  10. Tim

    Eeek, could that be a brown recluse, or black widow spider bite? Coulda happened anywhere, but I suppose the Green Acres life has a few more opportunities for the bug bites.

    I believe the brown recluses tend to hide away in dark places. This was a sunny day outdoors and I was moving around playing frisbee, so I’m still thinking a flying insect of some sort.

  11. Susan

    I am no authority on bug bites, but that looks pretty horrid Tom. I think I would have a doctor check that arm out. In my neck of the woods, Spokane, Wa, we are dealing with a type of gnat/fly that attacks around the head and neck area leaving some of the susceptible (like me) with huge, itchy lumps. No fun. Unfortunately, as soon as one bug season disappears another type of bug raises its ugly mouth or stinger! Welcome to the country!

    Susan M.

    I wonder if those have made it down here. My impression (again, out of the corner of my eye, so I could be wrong) was that something flew into me.

  12. Janknitz

    Umm, that looks like a trip to the ER or urgent care to me. Seriously, those bugs carry venom and nasty bacteria.

    I’ll have it looked at if it doesn’t get better quickly.

  13. Daghain

    Um, yeah. This is why I live in the city. I’m just sayin’.

    That must have been one freaky huge bug!

    I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was small, whatever it was.

  14. Eric from Belgium

    Hi Tom

    Years ago while visiting friends in Poplar Bluff I turned into mosquito snack food, 90 bites in less than two minutes. I guess them redneck mosquitos must have found european blood appetizing!

    What can be an effective repellent and soothing remedy is lavender essential oil (lavender angustifolia). The other lavender oil ‘lanvender aspic’ is also amazing at healing burns and bites. These don’t cost much and are worth a try.

    Now, that rash looks like an allergic reaction, and an antihistamine cream or cortisone cream could be useful.

    Best advice is that if it keeps getting bigger do see a medic.


    It seems to be about the same size today.

  15. Tracey

    Nasty! You’re not making US country life look all that appealing…mind you Aussie is worse – most of the critters there’ll just kill ya outright.

    NZ’s wetas don’t seem so bad all of a sudden.

    I read Bill Bryson’s wonderful book “In a Sunburned Country” about his travels in Australia. I was impressed to learn to how many creatures there can kill you with one bite or sting.

  16. Craig

    Hmmm. Is this really about bug bites or just a chance to flex those biceps? 🙂

    Ha … except I wasn’t flexing. I make a fist to flex.

  17. Marta

    Hello Tom, Sorry to see your war with the insect world is ongoing :-). When we were in TN last year I was stung by an Eastern Velvet Ant (ant wasp). The affected area on my leg looked a lot like the are on your arm. It took about 8 weeks to go away.

    That would make sense.

  18. Cor Aquilonis

    Not sure if this was mentioned before, but do you mow the fields? Mowing is the number-one technique (that I know of) for keeping pests at bay. Even pastures. I had a neighbor down the way (back when I was a country girl) that would mow his cow pasture a couple times a year with a tractor-mower. It kept the large weeds and grasses down, which prevents crazy pest problems and encourages new grass growth. He mowed very high – 5 inches, easy. His Angus cattle looked good for it, and the pasture was kept up. This may be relevant:

    Maintaining the pasture with good forage management will probably improve the value of your farm and encourage the growth of your livestock. If you’re worried about bugs for your chickens, though, don’t. There will still be plenty of bugs – just in less “swarmy” quantities.

    We have the pastures mowed every two weeks.

  19. Firebird7478

    Studies confirm and the FDA supports that fresh country air and frisbee golf can lead to blemishes and rashes.

    In my n=1 experiment, that’s the case.

  20. nonegiven

    It looks infected. DH’s doctor gave him antibiotics, steroids and antihistamines and his didn’t look as bad.

    I guess I may need to see a doctor. Rats.

  21. AndreaLynnette

    I’ve probably sung this product’s praises before, but if you live or spend time in the country, Eden Salve is your friend. Carry it in your pocket when you’re out there and if you get bit or stung, slap some on immediately. I love the stuff.

  22. Andrés

    “The following anecdote illustrates how vitamin C requirements can vary, even within a single individual. Dr Riordan, a leading researcher into cancer and vitamin C, has described how the increased need in times of stress was one of the factors that led to his interest in the substance.[Here it cites another book as source] As part of a research study, Riordan’s own vitamin C blood levels were being measured on a regular basis. His levels were in the typical range of 13 to 17mg per litre. However, during the time of the experiment, a spider bit him on the thigh; he was surprised to find that his blood levels subsequently dropped to undetectable values. Thinking it would be easy to bring his levels back to the normal range, he asked a nurse to give him 15 grams intravenously: a large dose. The next day his blood levels were still undetectable. Amazed, Dr Riordan repeated the 15 gram injection, with the same result. He
    continued to repeat the cycle for five days, when his blood level became detectable but was still in the range typical of deficiency. It was several more days before his vitamin C level returned to normal and the spider bite was completely healed. Here, in one subject, we have an account of how a minor injury required more than 75 grams of vitamin C, given intravenously, before normal blood levels were restored.”
    Ascorbate: The Science of Vitamin C, Steve Hickey PhD. and Hilary Roberts PhD. Of course, titrating oral vitamin C (1g every 5 minutes) instead of the intravenous one should suffice for almost anything (not cancer). I have no experience using vitamin C to treat bug bites, though. Nevertheless, I and my family have used it personally for supposed (I am not a physician) viral or bacterial infections. Even our dog have benefited of its placebo effect ;-). And you know, it is not late if you are still alive ;-).

  23. BillRN

    Sorry you’ve been having a tough time.

    Like Janknitz said, there’s some nasty bacteria out there. You might be have some cellulitis (infection of the skin) and from the looks of it, its beyond any antihistamine cream or anything topical. The usual treatment is a course of oral antibiotics, usually Keflex (cephalexin). If it goes untreated too long, the redness usually spreads, pain gets worse and IV antibiotics are warranted.

    Does the red area feel warmer or hotter to the touch?

    In my experience (emergency nurse) “spider bites” are fairly rare. People usually report it as a spider bite, but never saw or felt the initial bite. It could be a different bug, or a pimple that festered too long. I’ve seen a brown recluse bite… and you would be feeling very different by now, and that bite would look different. Bacteria can enter under our skin through microscopic scratches. I’ve had that happen to my knee, and it sucked for a while.

    Keep us updated. Just thought I’d throw my nursing advice out there.

    Yeah, it’s warm to the touch. I don’t think it’s a spider bite — no fang marks. There appears to be one puncture wound, so I’m pretty sure something stung me. If it doesn’t start fading, I guess I’ll have to get over my aversion to seeing doctors.

    1. bec

      It’s a horse fly bite – they’re so distinctive…one little red puncture wound.
      You have cellulitis – that’s the red area of infection spreading from the bite site.
      Horseflies tend to cause cellulitis than the smaller biting knats/midges.

      Cellulitis can be minor or very bad causing amputation – so if it is still spreading in redness, pain, 48hrs after being bitten, emergency care is warranted.

      Hope this helps.

      My experience is vast in being bitten by almost everything!

  24. Anne

    Yikes, whatever stung you was mean.

    Earlier this year a friend of mine was stung by a caterpillar. At least that is what the wound looked like.

    Ticks sit and wait patiently while chiggers will come after you.

    Ants, wasps spiders and bees Oh My! Living in the country can be fun.

    Watch out for ticks. I just got diagnosed with Lyme and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

    Hope the redness starts to diminish so you don’t have to go to the doctor.

    I hope you recover from both quickly, Anne.

  25. Jean

    In the UK we have horse flies which deliver a nasty bite which swells up like yours. I got one last year when I was clearing out a neighbour’s ditch. So much for good neighbourliness!
    I used anti histamine tablets or cream to calm it down.
    Hope it settles soon!

    That’s a possibility. I’ve seen them around here too.

  26. Jennifer Snow

    @Valerie: I’ve actually had the opposite response, the mosquitoes appear to largely ignore me, now. Part of that may be that I’ve decreased my soap usage a lot (it dries out my skin) and I’ve started using coconut oil instead of lotion. Whatever it is, I can mow the lawn nowadays without the extra additional misery of getting covered in bug bites.

  27. Dave, RN

    My opinion:
    I had an area just like that on my elbow. All I did was smack it against the counter-top. It was infected in 24 hours and I had cellulitis within a day. It took a week of daily IM Antibiotics (I gave half of them to myself over Christmas 2010 holidays) and twice a day silver applications to get rid of it. I was very nearly admitted to the hospital for IV antibiotics. It was quite frightening.

    Don’t mess around with this. See a doctor today.

    I was finally scared into it. I start antibiotics tonight.

  28. Ed Terry

    A couple of years ago I was clearing brush in a neighbor’s yard and I thought I may have been bit by something, but I wasn’t sure. However, in a couple of days my lower leg started to turn red and swell. I thought “that’s interesting” but did nothing about it, even when my wife suggested I see a doctor. I briefly thought it might be cellulitis, but that wasn’t possible because only “old” people get that. It kept getting redder and more swollen and I was not feeling my best.

    I saw my doctor and she reached down and touched it and remarked that it felt hot! My reaction was huh? It felt fine to me. I then reached down and touched it and she wasn’t kidding – the skin was very hot.

    Turns out I discovered two things that day. 1) a young 52 year old man like me can get cellulitis and 2) when my wife suggests that I go to the doctor, she may have a point.

    My wife didn’t suggest going to a doctor, but enough of you did (along with some co-workers) that I heeded the advice.

  29. LCNana

    WOW! I’m sure glad it’s so DARNED HOT here these last few days that I’ve been cowering by the Acs!!!! I’ve still got marks from getting 5 bites on my legs weeks ago. Some bugs are powerful. Tom, us grannies are gonna worry so get seen to!!!!

    I did.

  30. Firebird7478

    If you do go to a doctor, be careful. He may blame that rash and bite on your cholesterol.

    Fortunately he didn’t ask for a lipid panel.

  31. Cathy

    I got a similar bite/sting like that once when picking blueberries. My doc said if it is warm to the touch, it was most likely a staph infection. This was one of the cases when I grudgingly took the antibiotics.

    I saw a doctor who made the same diagnosis.

  32. Sky

    My guess is you got stung by a wasp that you never saw coming at you like some Japanese Kamikaze pilot. It happened to me last year when I opened a dumpster to throw in some trash. I couldn’t believe HOW FAST they flew out there – like a bullet – straight for my face and stung me 2-3 times. It happened so fast that I didn’t even have time to react.

    I’m still amazed at how they managed to sting me like that w/o first landing on my face and then giving me the gift of their venom. And yes, my face swelled up where I got stung and itched for almost a week, but cleared up on its own w/o any treatment whatsoever.

    I’ve been stung by bees and hornets in the past, but that was the first time that I’ve ever had any sort of reaction after being stung. Nasty!

    Hope you get well soon, Tom!

    The sting was nowhere near as shockingly painful as the wasp stings I experienced in the past, but lately we’ve seen what look like mini-wasps around the land. It could have been one of them.

  33. Vanessa F.

    Sounds like you were the target of a cedar fly. I’ve had my share of those bites.

    I haven’t heard of those before.

  34. Lisa

    Hi… I basically live in the same area as you do…

    And there’s no doubt about it… horsefly bite for sure.

    I know you aren’t worried, but I’m going to say it anyway… Don’t worry. Soon enough you get so used to the bugs you don’t even notice them. Which is probably because they soon get used to you too and will generally leave you alone. The mosquitoes are the exception.

    Given your girls ages, the biggest thing I would take note of is the population of other larger critters like snakes. Cottonmouths in/near water, copperheads anywhere, and black “chicken snakes” on land (you know the ones… they commit suicide crossing the road, especially on the hottest days).

    I don’t know what kind of acreage you’ve got, but dogs in the country are invaluable. They keep the critter population down (possums, raccoons, and coyotes), and will warn you by barking directly at, if not go ahead and outright kill, the snakes. It’s my understanding that they are immune to their bites.

    I have several wooded acres, and a creek/stream that cuts across the property. I’m told by “old-timers” that the chicken snakes should never be killed (although it’s still probably not a good idea to let kids follow their natural inclination to pick em up and fling em around) because they will keep the copperhead population down in the yard. I don’t know if it is true or not, but between them and the dog I’ve never seen copperheads anywhere around the house or the part of the property that I use/mow.

    And I don’t know if you are gardening and/or putting in an orchard yet (I really haven’t read your whole blog – sorry), but make sure to fortify WELL against the Deer population. They will eat everything you are trying to grow before it’s had a chance to start (yes even young fruit trees). Dogs will keep the rabbits from eating all your efforts too, and certain breeds will even take care of moles. Put in a doggie door so they can just run out whenever they detect any type of activity outside and keep em Frontlined.

    Loved the movie! Glad to see someone bringing sanity back into this insane world!

    Thanks for the information. We’re on just under six acres with some pastures, some woods, and a creek (currently dry). The garden is fenced in, and the orchard is currently weed-infested and not active. We’ll fix that later. We’ll let the dogs patrol the property after we get it all fenced in. There were barbed-wire fences everywhere when we moved in, but we had those removed.

    I just saw black snake near the house yesterday. I thought I’d heard they were okay, so I let it be.

  35. Flo

    hi there!
    I got bit yesterday by a tiny little spider i saw it not for long but i did…it was a brownish and yellow very very small and i felt the same thing…(in the country as well) on my ranger….i immediatly smatched it and went on my business….to realize later it was itching and the redness growing….i took pics also if i could post it i would show you….not wanting to compare like that but it is about the same size as yours maybe little bigger and at the same spot a little higher….
    wow i love the internet for this you can share same experiences….Anyhow….i didnt put anything on it…..maybe i should take benadryl….it is the second date and it is getting bigger every time i scratch it….
    (i hate bugs!!!)

    If you’ve got a red area that’s spreading like mine did, I’d get it looked at.

  36. Tina

    Hi …

    I have the exact same thing. Pretty sure it was a wasp as a nest was in my mailbox! It has been about 28 hours and looks just like that. Keep us posted… I am hoping not cellulitis…. but have heard wasp stings can be pretty bad…

    Get it looked at. If it’s an infection, you don’t want to let it spread.

  37. jake easler

    my wife got stung about a week ago by something she said looked like a small black wasp and she mashed it on her arm. her arm looks kinda like your. so good luck

    My arm is fine now, thanks. If she swells up and the redness starts spreading, take her to a doctor.


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