Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - December 03, 2015

From: Mission, KS
Region: Midwest
Topic: Pests
Title: Avoiding insect bites while gardening in Kansas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I recently moved into Mission, Kansas(Johnson County). Every time I go do any yard work I get a couple of insect bite looking spots on body. They are somewhat painful and very itchy. One of them got infected and I had to go on an antibiotic. I asked around few people around the area but no one seems to know what it could be. I will really appreciate any kind of preventive care advice. Thank you.

ANSWER:

Since I'm not in Kansas I can't give you a definitive answer on what might be biting you.  My first thought, however, is that it could be chiggers. If the bites are occurring on your ankles and leg—especially under your socks, the elastic of your underwear or anywhere your clothing is tight—it might be chiggers.  In general, there are several recommendations for avoiding chiggers and other insect bites outdoors.

  • Wear long pants, long sleeves and gloves while gardening.
  • Use an insect repellent before you go out.  You can buy powdered sulphur at the pharmacy.  Put a small amount in a plastic bag, put your socks inside the bag and shake it before putting them on.  If possible, stuff your trouser legs into your socks.  Or, use a commercial insect repellent containing DEET before you go out.  Spray the commerical repellent on your shoes and pants legs near your ankles and on your long sleeves. 
  • Shower and wash your clothes as soon as possible when you finish your gardening.

K-State Research and Extension has an article about chiggers, Pests That Affect Human Health: Chiggers, that tells you how to treat their bites and how to avoid getting bitten.  Mother Earth News also has advice about how to avoid chiggers.

Visit the K-State Research and Extension webpage for Johnson County.   On this page you will find a link to their Gardening Hotline where you may either telephone or email them questions.  They may have a better idea about what insects might be biting you.

 

More Pests Questions

Bugs on Arizona Cypress in Bellwood IL
August 27, 2011 - I live in Illinois and have an Arizona Cypress that looks like it is dying but I notice today it has bugs inside its cone. Can you tell me why and what can I do?
view the full question and answer

Honeybees swarming around galls on oak trees
September 28, 2015 - A large number of honeybees have descended on a live oak tree in my backyard. They appear to be feeding on the numerous galls on the tree as if they were flowers. What's going on?
view the full question and answer

Long term effects of pesticide from Lubbock TX
March 20, 2013 - I have 9 western pecan trees about 20 years old. Trunk sizes is from 18" to 39". I used a product Bayer Tree and Shrub, applied to the trees. I wonder what it will do to the trees. I talkd to Bayer ...
view the full question and answer

What's causing holes in trunk of white oak tree in SouthBend IN?
June 10, 2013 - We have a huge White Oak in our backyard that is approx. 130 years old. This evening I became aware that there are several small holes around the trunk that appear to be oozing a dark sappy liquid. ...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Chamaecyparis pisiflora turning brown in Fuqua-Varina NC
December 10, 2012 - I have a "Soft Serve False Cypress" Chamaecyparis pisifera'Dow Whiting PPAF, that has only been in the ground for 6-7 months. I just noticed that the branches and leaves are starting to die, turni...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.