The Farm Report: Bugs Still Love Me

      90 Comments on The Farm Report: Bugs Still Love Me

I recently wrote a post about how mosquitoes and other biting bugs seem to prefer me over Chareva.  Here’s more proof.

The bites in the photo below were my own fault.  I went out to play disc golf and forgot to put insect repellent on my legs — which weren’t bare, by the way.  The chiggers managed to get to me despite long pants and socks.  Chareva works out in the garden almost every day, but she doesn’t get bites like these.

Now this next one really pisses me off:  All I did was go to bed and go to sleep.  That ought to be a hazard-less activity.  But I woke up bitten all over by what I presume was a spider.  All the red welts you see below are bites.  I counted 14 of them in all.  (Most aren’t in the photo because they’re in areas that don’t make for family-friendly photography.)  I have bites in both armpits, on my back and on my stomach.  I was in an all-day seminar for work today and had to pretend to pay attention when all I wanted to do was scratch my own skin off.

Guess how many spider bites Chareva has today?  That’s right, NONE.  Derned critters just leave her alone for some reason.

If anyone has a suggestion for making myself less delicious to spiders, I’m all ears.


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90 thoughts on “The Farm Report: Bugs Still Love Me

  1. Kathy in Texas

    Are you sure those are spider bites?! Seems you would have rolled over and squashed the bugger before getting bitten that many times – unless your bed is seriously infested with spiders. Just typing that made me shudder as I’m deathly afraid of the creepy things.

    I remember the bite on your arm last year(?) that finally sent you to the doctor. How about the girls? Bites, no bites? Hope they got their mom’s immunity. Having your daughters eaten alive like that would be scary.

    Maybe I dreamed it, but I think you said you used Benadryl for insect bite itching. If that’s not doing it for you, try that new Allegra anti-itch cream. It works better that cortisone for me.

    Good luck and hope you heal quickly.

    I seem to be the only waking up with bites. But based on the comments, I may have accused spiders of crimes they didn’t commit. Could be bed bugs.

  2. Karn

    I have a suggestion, more pictures of Chareva’s legs and less of yours. 🙂

    Hers are much more photogenic than mine.

  3. Jana

    When I was in Missouri for basic training we were instructed to wear nylons under our pants. It keeps the chiggers off. Don’t know what you can do about bed other than to put up netting.

    I’m still having a hard time picturing soldiers in nylons …

  4. Pierson

    Over-the-bed nets may help your situation, although if you’re looking for a more ‘organic’ route, a mixture of spearmint and coconut oil may help your cause. I found both to be effective mosquito (and moth, and spider, and centipede, and small lizard) repellants when I was in the Dominican Republic, so they might help you here as well

    You mean I get to rub myself with coconut oil?

  5. MarqueG

    Tom, try treating your clothing (not your person) with permethrin. You spray it on your outdoor clothes (socks, shoes, pants, hats), let them dry, and then wear them through several washing cycles before the effects wear off. See the Wiki on it, and check out the products with it from Amazon. It is a general insecticide and should be used with appropriate caution, but is deemed safe by our EPA, whom we trust to our potential peril.

    I became aware of it in regard to combating tick-born illnesses, particularly Lyme disease and the red-meat allergy. But it works on your clothing also as a repellant. You can find the appropriate pre-mixed sprays to treat your clothes, or perhaps a concentrate to mix your own.

    It doesn’t seem to have any serious toxicological concerns with it, and it is hopefully a useful weapon in mankind’s ongoing struggles to fight against the warrior goddess Nature. She’s out to kill us, you know. 😉

  6. Lori

    Make sure it’s not bed bugs. A friend of mine got an infestation in her apartment, and her anti-chemical attitude went out the window in a New York minute.

    You might try spraying your golf area with Safer insecticidal soap. It’s pretty mild stuff. You could also call your county extension office for advice on reducing them on your property.

    We don’t have chiggers here, but there are spiders all over my house and yard. The spiders have never bothered me, and I only kill brown recluses in the house (they’re poisonous); wish I knew some secret I could share.

    I guess the bedroom may need a chemical bomb.

  7. Ann

    I have actually watched Mozzies land on my son and do nothing but fly off again, meanwhile I am being eaten alive. I have plenty of sympathy for you Tom but no useful advice.

  8. Kathy in Texas

    Are you sure those are spider bites?! Seems you would have rolled over and squashed the bugger before getting bitten that many times – unless your bed is seriously infested with spiders. Just typing that made me shudder as I’m deathly afraid of the creepy things.

    I remember the bite on your arm last year(?) that finally sent you to the doctor. How about the girls? Bites, no bites? Hope they got their mom’s immunity. Having your daughters eaten alive like that would be scary.

    Maybe I dreamed it, but I think you said you used Benadryl for insect bite itching. If that’s not doing it for you, try that new Allegra anti-itch cream. It works better that cortisone for me.

    Good luck and hope you heal quickly.

    I seem to be the only waking up with bites. But based on the comments, I may have accused spiders of crimes they didn’t commit. Could be bed bugs.

  9. Karn

    I have a suggestion, more pictures of Chareva’s legs and less of yours. 🙂

    Hers are much more photogenic than mine.

  10. Jana

    When I was in Missouri for basic training we were instructed to wear nylons under our pants. It keeps the chiggers off. Don’t know what you can do about bed other than to put up netting.

    I’m still having a hard time picturing soldiers in nylons …

  11. Pierson

    Over-the-bed nets may help your situation, although if you’re looking for a more ‘organic’ route, a mixture of spearmint and coconut oil may help your cause. I found both to be effective mosquito (and moth, and spider, and centipede, and small lizard) repellants when I was in the Dominican Republic, so they might help you here as well

    You mean I get to rub myself with coconut oil?

    1. Pierson

      So long as you’re not sensitive to it, go nuts! I recommend growing your own spearmint, though, since (at least where I live) it can get pricey

    2. Carole W

      I didn’t know it was an insect repellant, but coconut oil is a great moisturizer. I use it exclusively instead of lotion. You don’t need much, and it rubs in surprisingly well without feeling any more oily than most lotions feel. Very good for the skin!

      1. Pierson

        Oh, very much so! I do recommend mixing it with a strong-smelling (non-processed and unrefined) plant oil when using it as a repellent, because I don’t know if coconut oil will work on its own. Like I said, I found spearmint oil and coconut oil to be effective when mixed in equal parts, although lemongrass and lavender have been suggested as well. All-in-all, use whichever herb oil you find to be effective, just make sure that it’s organic!

  12. MarqueG

    Tom, try treating your clothing (not your person) with permethrin. You spray it on your outdoor clothes (socks, shoes, pants, hats), let them dry, and then wear them through several washing cycles before the effects wear off. See the Wiki on it, and check out the products with it from Amazon. It is a general insecticide and should be used with appropriate caution, but is deemed safe by our EPA, whom we trust to our potential peril.

    I became aware of it in regard to combating tick-born illnesses, particularly Lyme disease and the red-meat allergy. But it works on your clothing also as a repellant. You can find the appropriate pre-mixed sprays to treat your clothes, or perhaps a concentrate to mix your own.

    It doesn’t seem to have any serious toxicological concerns with it, and it is hopefully a useful weapon in mankind’s ongoing struggles to fight against the warrior goddess Nature. She’s out to kill us, you know. 😉

    1. MarqueG

      Forgot! The link to a radio show on the red-meat allergy that got my attention:
      http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2013/08/03/830-alpha-gal-allergy/

      Make of it what you will.

      And from a native West Virginia hillbilly to an immigrant Tennessee cousin, be sure to get a chimney brush and clean out your stove pipe before the heating season rolls around again. Creosote fires are a nasty business!

      I appreciate the advice on the chimney.

  13. Lori

    Make sure it’s not bed bugs. A friend of mine got an infestation in her apartment, and her anti-chemical attitude went out the window in a New York minute.

    You might try spraying your golf area with Safer insecticidal soap. It’s pretty mild stuff. You could also call your county extension office for advice on reducing them on your property.

    We don’t have chiggers here, but there are spiders all over my house and yard. The spiders have never bothered me, and I only kill brown recluses in the house (they’re poisonous); wish I knew some secret I could share.

    I guess the bedroom may need a chemical bomb.

  14. Ann

    I have actually watched Mozzies land on my son and do nothing but fly off again, meanwhile I am being eaten alive. I have plenty of sympathy for you Tom but no useful advice.

    1. namu

      Seconded, many people just assume “spiders” when in actuality, small household spiders lack any incentive to bite on mammals, and most prominently lack the strength to pierce skin at all.

      Those are most probably bedbug or mosquito bites.

      I’m thinking bedbugs, then. They’re bigger than mosquito bites.

  15. Janknitz

    I don’t know how to be less attractive to bugs (same for me) but I did learn that rubbing the inside of a banana peel On the bites relieves itching. Just expect weird looks from others wondering why you smell like a banana in close quarters.

    I’ll just tell them I’m Durianrider in disguise — the disguise being muscles.

  16. Nancy

    Is there any chance they could be flea bites? This is about the time of year that an infestation really gets going.

    The time of year & your recent kitten adoption makes me more inclined to suspect fleas than bedbugs…..

    I hadn’t thought of fleas. Seems possible.

  17. Eric from belgium

    Well Tom, you have all my sympathy. I remember years ago when I lived in Missouri visiting some friends in Poplar Bluff. I was wearing shorts, and went to the friend’s kids softball game. Within two minutes I got NINETY mosquito bites on the legs. Needless to say I rapidly retreated to the safety of my car.

    My friend, who’s a doctor, told me she’d never seen anything like that… Must be something genetic, as my father calls my mother his ‘mosquito decoy’.

    Like the old joke about two guys running away from a Lion, and one of them says ‘We’ll never outrun the Lion’, and the other guy says,’I know, I only need to outrun you’

    So, short of a decoy, without dousing yourself in pesticides (which can stay for a long time in the body fat) what I -personally- have found to be effective is lemongrass essential oil (Cymbopogon winterianus Jowitt) and Lavender oil.

    As for the itching, cortisone cream or aloe vera seems to be the only effective options in my case.

    Oh, by the way, in WWII soldiers wore a lot of nylons. In parachute shape though.

    If I try nylons, I’m definitely having Chareva buy them for me.

  18. Tami

    My hubby got bit by bedbugs in a hotel a few months ago, they usually bite in a line, rather than random dottings.

    I have no idea what a chigger is – we dont have them here – but for mozzie repellant, we rub a little lavender oil on our feet. The smell supposidly penetrates the body and masked our own scent. Eucalyptus is suppost to be as good, and a bit less girly smelling 🙂 Citronella is a great deterant.

    Mozzie are attracted to people who drink alcohol, 1 in 10 people are extremely attractive to them, men are more likely to get bit than women, and if what I just read is correct, the low carb diet may make us a tasty morsel.

    I’ve woken up with bites in a line before too.

  19. tom

    How about you follow Dr. John McDougall’s vegan diet? Tofu and synthetic oils get into your blood stream it will kill anything that bites you. Besides I don’t think even insects want to eat that crap!!!

    I’d rather itch.

    1. Cindy

      Not that I am a McDougall fan, but I have to say that he does not like people eating much tofu and he HATES synthetic oils. Oils of any kind, really. Although I am a low-carber now, I did start changing my diet by listening to him. I soared past him, but I also don’t want him misquoted.

      That’s the point Denise Minger made in her AHS 2011 speech. These vegan doctors have people give up all kinds of crap, including synthetic oils, then declare they’ve proved it’s giving up animal products that made their patients healthier.

  20. Jo

    Where I come from they say eating marmite stops the mozzies biting. Not sure if you can get it there though. I wonder what the ‘active’ ingredient might be.

  21. LaurieLM

    Okay, try Diatomaceous Earth, DE. Make sure it is ‘Food Grade”. It is very cheap, you might be able to safely ingest small quants too. Some swear by it. It is a great pesticide.
    I have had luck with getting rid of ants by putting out sugar water laced with a wee bit of borax (it’s a miracle cure) and I have only started with the DE pesticide one day ago. But I’m hopeful.
    DO NOT use even externally, and definitely not internally, the DE that’s for filtering pool water. That’s non food grade, crystallized.

    Since animals have the FGDE added to their feed and it has been used as food crop plant pesticide, we can almost surely make a paste and put on our skins. But beware and use at your own, with research, risk.
    http://technorati.com/lifestyle/green/article/diatomaceous-earth-a-nearly-perfect-organic/

    That could be useful for the garden too.

    1. labrat

      So researchers that are actually on to something. 🙂 Interesting.Yay!

      I vote for fleas bites. Just like with mosquitos – they don’t bother my A Pos daughter but I have a very strong reaction to flea bites. Time to bomb your house! Do you use Advatage type products on your pets?

      Chareva puts something on the dogs to repel fleas and ticks. I don’t remember what it’s called.

      1. Eric from belgium

        Careful with that…. Most of these pet anti flea/tick products are made of synthetic nicotine derivatives (Neonicotinoids). Nicotine is a pretty good insecticide, and will also remain in in the body fat for a long time, hence the reason these repellants are long lasting. Look for substances such as Imidacloprid, ‎Imidacloprid, ‎Clothianidin, Acetamiprid, Thiamethoxam….

  22. Matt

    Diatomaceous earth (food grade) is a great non-toxic way to get rid of bed bugs and other pests.

  23. bill

    Don’t brown recluses or black widows bite?

    What is the reasoning for saying spiders
    don’t bite? Don’t they?

  24. Dave

    When I was a child and my family went on a picnic, nine times out of ten those of us who sat on the wooden seats at the picnic tables in the state parks would wind up with red bugs, aka chiggers. Except for my dad. He would always take a few drops of medicinal turpentine oil on a teaspoon of sugar before the picnic. The turpentine seemed to make him unattractive to bugs. Your mileage may vary.

    Turpentine? That’s a new one on me.

  25. Don in Arkansas

    I would think that if you had bedbugs you would have seen some evidence of them but it might be a good idea to get a pro out to check for them. I wouldn’t think it was spiders because of the sheer volume of bites. We have a lot of chiggers here but amazingly enough, they don’t bother the locals much. Most of the people who live ‘out’ have well water and there is a lot of iron in the water and that may be a factor. I take a ‘super b’ supplement and eat a lot of garlic, and not even the mosquitoes bother me much. If my wife and I work out in the pasture where the grass is higher, we usually shower as soon as we come in and that seems to help as well. Good luck finding out what it is. I have had chiggers that bad and it is truly miserable.

    I’m thinking the bedbugs only come out a night. Also, nobody in my family remembers to say “Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite” to me before bed.

  26. Jennifer Snow

    Do you and Chareva use the same soap/shampoo? Because I have a tendency to switch soap/shampoo up a lot (always looking for one that will turn me into a supermodel) and I notice that I get radically different numbers of bug bites on my lawn-control escapades. It may be unrelated, but anything that changes your smell may help.

    No, she uses girly stuff. Perhaps I should give that a try.

    1. Jim Butler

      It would be very odd, though I suppose not impossible, for bedbugs to only bite you, assuming you and your lovely wife share the same bed…

      Jim

      Must be my type O blood. She’s type A. Apparently bugs prefer type O.

  27. Dave

    Start taking Benfotiamine, a synthetic fat soluble form of B-1. This will reduce the number of bites substantially.

  28. Bubba

    I believe you are missing the obvious. You are getting bitten but Chareava is not. They are Chareva bites!!! The question is, are they playful or antagonistic?

    With these welts, I’d vote for antagonistic. I should probably stop insulting her before bed.

  29. Jenna

    My son was stung this last week by a wasp (don’t think you can attract those?) and swelled up and was pretty itchy. Our family friend (dermatologist) made a house call 😉 and told him OTC zyrtec is better than benadryl for itching. Then, my husband who is a mosquito magnet like you (can’t go outside at night to even take the trash to the curb without being attacked) couldn’t sleep because of the itching and he said the zyrtec worked wonders! (He was always a benadryl user with little relief) I rarely get bitten so I do believe one can attract a mosquito where others are not as tasty a treat.

    Why didn’t Noah swat those two mosquitoes?

    I’ll look for zytrec, although the Benadryl does pretty well for me.

  30. Gary Rees

    It looks like flea bites to me. I had that experience recently. I am going to check your DVD for signs of infestation 🙂

    I hope fleas can’t get inside the cases. They’re shrink-wrapped.

  31. Mike

    There was a summer when I was getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. One morning I skipped my shower and that night, they didn’t bother me at all. I discovered as long as I didn’t use soap all over when bathing that the bugs wouldn’t devour me. Just soap up the smelly parts and rinse the rest. It’s not a far-fetched concept that our natural oils are a defensive measure and stripping them away leaves us vulnerable.

    That would make sense.

  32. bigmyc

    Haven’t read through all the comments but you, my fatheaded friend, may have an infestation of bed bugs….That’s pretty much what those welts look like. If your sleeping session that resulted in those bites was during the evening, it’s looking more like bed bugs are your problem. Doesn’t seem likely that a spider, or even a platoon of ’em, would ravage you like that. Then again, if you’ve never noticed these before, it seems odd that they’d appear in such force over a single evening….I’d look into the bed bug possibility.

    I’ve had them before. Bed bugs are a good guess.

  33. bigmyc

    And as for your wife, it’s fairly common for some to not react at all to bed bug bites whilst someone like yourself gets lit up like an older BMW’s dashboard cluster. Some people don’t react to the bed bug bite enzyme.

    She seems to have won the genetic lottery in several ways.

    1. Walter Bushell

      Hmm, if the girls aren’t getting bitten and I assume you would have said, it could be genetic or something you are doing different.

      Could be the blood type. I’m O, Chareva’s A. I don’t know about the girls.

  34. Clint

    GARLIC! I take garlic oil gel caps daily and mosquitos leave me alone. I’ve even taken a gel cap, broke it open, rubbed in on my palms and then wiped it all over my bare skin, it works as long as you don’t mind smelling like an Italian restaurant on a busy Saturday night, lol!

    And you weren’t bitten by Italian women?

  35. Ellen

    I discovered quite by accident this summer that spray-on magnesium oil repels insects. I am a builder and am frequently outside. I began spraying my arms and legs with magnesium oil because I read that it was a good way to get more magnesium into my system. I started noticing that everyone else was slapping away mosquitoes and gnats, but I was not. I experimented one day by leaving off my magnesium and came home with several itchy bites. I use it everyday and have not had a single insect bite since that day!

    I’ve never heard of spray-on magnesium oil. I wonder if a magnesium supplement would have the same effect.

  36. JM

    My son growing up was always bitten. Whenever we went on camping trips I swear the bugs screamed in joy when he left the tent. The location didn’t matter. Canada bugs loved him as much as those in Florida. I hardly ever get bitten.

    I saw an article the other week about different blood types get bitten more often. O seemed to attract them the most. I am B, guess my son is an O.

    I’m type O as well.

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