Florida Biting Bugs
If you hike around Florida you will get bitten by something, that is a given! I can tell you that I’ve had some unpleasant times fighting hordes of mosquitoes, the intense bite of the Florida yellow fly, the horrible itching from chiggers, trying to extract a tick from behind my arm and then that bite which I have no idea where it came from. I cannot tell you which one of the group is the worst, but I now try and prepare for all of them. I once entered a marsh area near the St. Johns River to do some GEOCaching and before I knew it I was litterly covered with mosquitoes. They where so dense that the attached me everywhere, even biting me through my clothes. I had on my deet, but that didn’t stop them, they smelled blood and that was that! I found my caches and got out of there in a hurry. Needless to say, my body was covered in welts. Most of the time in the wet months I run across some bad patches, but this was more than a bad patch, it was pure hell! I now have a mosquito net and 95% deet handy for those types of ambush. One lesson I learned the hard way was protect yourself from the Florida Chigger. This mite, which you can not see, leaves the most itchy welts! The itch is so intense it is beyond description. If you get enough of them and you don’t treat them in someway, you will scratch your skin raw. Since that experience I now do this before any hike - tuck my pants into my socks and spray my socks and boots with 25% deet. Hopefully this will discourage them from crawling onto my boots and than up my leg. There are a number of suggest remedies for the bites if you get them, I use anti-itch lotion containing Pramoxine HCI. The main thing is, don’t let them get to you. Sept - I was in the wrong spot at the wrong time as far as chiggers are concerned. It seemed that while out hiking/GEOCaching I entered the wrong area (suspect a tall grass area) and picked up a mess of chiggers. I didn't realize my problem until the next morning, when my ankles and legs started itching like crazy. The dreaded red, itchy welts started appearing. I couldn't beleive how many welts I had. I used my itch cream with limited success. I then had to pull out more items from the chigger bag because the welts and itching started driving me crazy. I used hydrogen peroxide to help with infections, nail polish to block some of the bad ones and white vinegar to try and kill the itching. It seems the itching was curtailed somewhat, but the welts kept showing up (this happens with chiggers). I can only assume I didn't spray enough Deet on my socks and pants to protect myself. My friend evidently did protect himself better because he only had a couple of welts. I can only tell you that it is pure misery, again I warn you to protect yourself. I have been unlucky a few times to run into an area with a high concentration of Florida Yellow Flies. This is a type of horse fly that really knows how to bite! Like all horse flies, they are fast to the bite. My only defense against them again is deet. It is pure hell having those things looking for an exposed spot to bite you. My most unhappy moments are when I discover one or more ticks on my body after a hike. It seems they show up in the worst spots. I don’t like to assign tick "pulling" to family, so I try and do it myself. I ordered a special tick removing "tool" to assist me with the operation. Ticks can be very bad so make sure you remove them correctly as not to invite an infection. If it is deep and mean, you might even consider going to a doctor to do it. Again, with these the best offense is a good defense. I now do this before any hike - tuck my pants into my socks and spray my socks and boots with 25% deet. Always save the extracted tick in a jar in the refrigerator for a week or so just in case of a serious infection - they can use the dead tick to see if it was infected with something. Finally, there is that bite you never felt, but a major welt has appeared. It could be just a fire ant or it could be from one of the deadly spiders lurking out there. Always border on the side of caution and watch the welt closely. If anything really strange seems to be happening, see your doctor!
Labels: Hiking - General Information