What About This…? By Wayne William Cipriano

Here it is well past the middle of August and the grass is still green, not brown, and it’s certainly not crunchy. Wildlife of all varieties are flourishing and the woods at night is a symphony. It may be a little warm for some and a bit wet for others, but overall a very nice spring rolled into a very nice summer and just about everyone is pleased, except for one thing…or two.

Chiggers and ticks.

This place would be a paradise indeed if it were not for these two terrors. It is difficult to select the worst of the two. One is invisible while the other is detectable. One can carry several diseases that can be devastating, the other merely drives you crazy with the itching. One can leave a lasting mark and a good deal of discomfort even after it has been removed as carefully as possible, since part of it remains subdurally regardless of how carefully it was removed. The other, if we have the internal fortitude to squeeze its location hard enough to bring tears to just about anyone’s eyes, can be totally ejected and ceases to itch at that very second. And so on. It is a real contest to pick the “winner.”

Imagine what outdoor life would be a for a good portion of the year if we did not have to worry about which of these little )*(&*(*%! was lurking in the flora waiting for us to provide a meal. Some of us don’t have to imagine.

Our son-in-law seems almost impervious to attack from these creatures. He doesn’t spray insecticide all over himself, he doesn’t particularly avoid the areas that seem to serve as rally points for the bugs. He just doesn’t get bit while we get eaten alive in the same areas as Bill.

When we were renting a house outside of Ava while we were building our home in the woods, our landlady, Frieda Fletcher, would garden for hours – preparing, seeing, cultivating, harvesting, right next to our yard that was a haven for these two banes, which we proved each and every time we went there without taking chemical and geographic precautions, and Mrs. Fletcher never got a bite. Never. Not even one!

The first time we noticed her in the garden, Rosalie felt an imperative to “warn” Mrs. Fletcher and when she did so, Mrs. Fletcher told her that she was never bothered by bugs. “I guess they just don’t like me.”

How can it be that most of us are brutally accosted for months on end while a lucky few trip blithely through the very same areas and seem to get no entomological attention whatsoever? It must have something to do with bodily chemistry. For those lucky ones, the ticks and chiggers just do not perceive them as a food source. So, naturally the next question for most of us is, “How can I get some of that chemistry?”

We can all, of course, slather on that stuff that drives insects (and most humans) away, but isn’t there something else?

Have you ever noticed that after eating some foods like garlic and onions, you can detect the fragrance of those foods on your body, coming, I would guess, from your perspiration? Somehow that same action could be put to use to have us exude whatever it is that Bill and Mrs. Fletcher have naturally, and get the same protection they haven’t couldn’t we?

So, it’s two questions, if my hypothesis is correct. 1)What is it that drives the bugs away and 2) How can we get that thing to work for us?

And here is a way for any of bright, aspiring person to join the ranks of Pasteur, Fleming, Salk, more or less, by answering those two questions. You would also make a boatload of money. And, if there is any justice at all, you would grease your way into heaven IMMEDIATELY.

I do not know why some pharmaceutical concern has not made this a priority. Just make a pill that we take once a day that slightly alters our bodily chemistry such that ticks and chiggers no longer recognize us as a food source. And does not, of course, kill us through negative side effects.

I managed to get through school without taking chemistry (a condition about which I have always had mixed feelings) and so I do not know much of the difficulties involved in making this “magic pill”; and since I can’t buy it over-the-counter I believe those difficulties must be enormous. Still, as I mentioned, the rewards for such a discovery would be commensurate. And right there for the taking should anyone decide to do the work involved.

In the meantime, realizing I don’t know all that much, if anyone has a prophylactic (dietary, chemical, homeopathic or otherwise), why not write a Letter to the Editor for the Herald, and share what you have learned. Even if it only works some of the time, or only on chiggers (oh yes!) or only on ticks (yes, again!), it is still worth telling the rest of us about it. Sharing such a remedy might not grease your way into heaven, but it would certainly garner our long-term gratitude that we would happily demonstrate with a good cigar and/or glass of middling quality champagne.

Thank you in advance.