Welcome to the Ozarks and welcome to the creatures that live with us in the Ozarks. This is not meant to scare anyone, but to advise and to educate you on the area bugs and little creatures that live amongst us here. I know many of you come to hike, walk in the woods, and the kids love to look under rocks! Below, I have listed several of the areas insects and of course the Copperhead snake, that you should be aware of when you go out on your adventures. So if you are the adventurous type, please, don't forget your bug repellent and to educate the little ones.
No, it's not that big--actually it's almost invisble by the human eye! You got it-- The Chigger!!!! Now, let's read more about this pain in the @$#*! Bug
The worst thing about the Missouri summer isn't sunburn, heat or humidity-it's chiggers.
Chiggers first show up as annoying red bumps. An itch begins. It grows. More hard red welts surface. Many people confuse this with bedbugs. You can pick up chiggers anywhere-simply by walking though or by grass, or just being by any vegetation or even hugging that loved one who just came in from the great outdoors. You may even want to spray before your day at Silver Dollar City.
Savage scratching begins. Every welt becomes a persistent, exquisitely itching preoccupation that continues to irritate for days and even weeks. These welts can appear anywhere on the skin.
Chiggers are not bugs or any other type of insect. Chiggers are the juvenile (or larval) form of a specific family of mites, the Trombiculidae. Mites are arachnids, like spider and scorpions, and are closely related to ticks.
Chiggers are tiny-less than 1/150th of an inch in diameter. More than a thousand of them could line up across this page and still leave room for two or three hundred more. At this size, chiggers are almost invisible to the unaided eye.
The reason the bite itches so intensely and for such a long time is because the chigger injects saliva into its victim after attaching to the skin. This saliva contains a powerful digestive enzyme that literally dissolves the skin cells it contacts. It is this liquefied tissue, never blood, that the chigger ingests and uses for food.
A chigger usually goes unnoticed for one to three hours after it starts feeding. During this period the chigger quietly injects its digestive saliva. After a few hours your skin reacts by hardening the cells on all sides of the saliva path, eventually forming a hard tube-like structure called a stylostome.
Itching usually peaks a day or two after the bite occurs. This happens because the stylostome remains imbedded in your skin tissue long after the chigger is gone. Your skin continues the itch, allergic reaction to stylostome for many days. The stylostome is eventually absorbed by your body, a slow process that takes a week to 10 days, or longer.
Chiggers are affected by temperature. They are most active in afternoons, and when the ground temperature is between 77 and 86 degrees. Chiggers become completely inactive when substrate temperatures fall below 60 degrees; temperature below 42 degrees will kill the chigger species that bite us.
When you get home, change clothes as soon as possible, and wash them before you wear them again. Put them directly into the washer, not on the floor, not on your sleeping area, not with your other clothes. Put them in the washer. If you don't, the chiggers will get you the next time you put them on. Some individuals never have problems with chiggers, while another will have a extremely bad case. I know I don't usually have any problems, but my husband can't even go close to vegetation with out his spray--the little chiggers just love him!
Regular mosquitoes repellents will repel chiggers. All brands are equally effective.
Unfortunately these repellents are only potent for two to three hours and must be reapplied frequently.
Can you see the Copperhead Snake below? Click on the far picture to your LEFT to enlarge and see if you can find the snake....
Click to Enlarge Photo!
The Copperhead Snake
Now can you see it? Click to Enlarge.
A copperhead will likely bite a person who steps on it because it is trying to defend itself. This type of bite is not that common. Most bites occur when someone sees a copperhead and decides to capture or kill the snake. During such scenarios the copperhead will do its best to defend itself.
In Missouri, no person has died as a result of a copperhead bite. In an average year, venomous snakes bite approximately 200 people in this state, with the majority involving copperheads. In over 25 years there are no records of a person dying from the bite of any venomous snake species native to Missouri. A person bitten by a copperhead should be taken to the emergency room of the nearest hospital to prevent infection and reduce pain, not because he or she is going to die.
The bite of a copperhead usually produces immediate, intense, burning pain. This may be followed by tingling or throbbing and nausea. In a few minutes there may be signs of swelling on the arm or leg. The most important thing is to immediately take the victim to a hospital emergency room. Various first-aid measures, such as applying a tourniquet or cutting and sucking out the venom or applying ice packs, are not recommended for copperhead bites.
In addition, according to emergency-room physicians, copperhead bites are seldom treated with antivenom, the medication that counteracts the affects of snake venom. This medication can cause a serious allergic reaction that can cause human death.
The majority of venomous snake bites can be prevented simply by not trying to capture or handle copperheads or other venomous snakes. Copperheads, by nature, are not aggressive. They do not go after people, do not search for people to bite and would rather stay motionless and undetected or try to avoid an intruder.
Color varies from grayish-brown to pinkish-tan, with hourglass-shaped crossbands of dark gray, brown or reddish-brown. The head may have some pink or orange color, hence the name "copperhead." The tail may be yellow or greenish-yellow, especially in young specimens, and the belly usually is a dusky mixture of gray, tan and black. Length averages from 24 to 36 inches (61-91 cm). Copperheads make their homes on rocky hillsides and along the edges of forests. They also spend time among trees and in brush along prairie streams.
Venom and Sting Prevention: Missouri's only native scorpion has a sting no worse than a wasp or bee. A sting usually results in a sharp pain and a red welt that shortly disappears with no after effects. An ice pack and antiseptic should be sufficient treatment. A few people have an allergic reaction to the venom, and experience more severe symptoms: swelling and itching of the throat and face, and a temperature that rises to 104 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Immediate medical attention, especially for children, is required.
Do not reach under rocks or logs with bare hands. Do not go barefoot at night in rocky or dry terrain. Don’t be surprised if one greets you in the bathtub, for like spiders, they enjoy cool places, including basements. Description: Average scorpion length is 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Young scorpions are pale yellowish-brown, usually with two lengthwise dark stripes on their abdomen; older scorpions are uniform dark brown with the stripes faint or lacking.
Am I freaking you out yet? I really hope not, remember this is education and just like every state has it's species, Missouri also has it's own--We want to make you aware and to spread the awareness to the rest of your group, especially for the small adventurous ones! We want you to have fun, but also to be safe. Please, continue on...
The Wolf Spider
The Missouri wolf spider can be dark grey or rusty tan and grey. They are large but not poisonous to people.
But boy can they scare the skittles out of you! The eight legs are long, and the two smaller appendages that look like legs are the pedipalps.
They vary in size from medium to large, some species measuring 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Wolf spiders have long, stout legs -- the fourth pair being the longest. The last two pairs of legs have longer hairs than the first two pairs.
Wolf spiders are found in a variety of habitats, usually near moist areas such as leaf litter, low-growing vegetation, the edges of streams, ponds or rivers, and on sandbars. They are known to dig burrows or tunnel into natural cavities under objects. They actively stalk their prey during the night, preying on ground-dwelling insects and other spiders. Wolf spiders are known for their wandering habits, and it is not unusual to find some that have wandered indoors, especially in basements.
Yes, even Tarantula's
The Missouri Tarantula:
This hairy species is Missouri's largest spider. Tarantulas, with their long legs (their leg span can reach up to 5 7/8 inches) and large hairy bodies, are ferocious in appearance and feared by many, no doubt due to the way they are depicted in motion picture horror films.
Body and legs are uniformly dark chocolate-brown, with reddish hairs on the carapace.
The tarantula's large size and shaggy appearance is frightening to many people, leading them to believe it has a ferocious nature. It actually is a shy creature, quick to evade humans. Tarantulas are typically at home in areas seldom frequented by people. They appear to prefer dry, rocky glades, where they spend their days in silk-lined burrows in abandoned rodent or reptile tunnels or in other natural cavities. Like many hunting spiders, tarantulas are active at night, when they hunt for insects such as crickets. In late summer and fall, south Missourians often see these large arachnids crossing roads. And actually, it is a cool thing to see, they look like small rodents crossing the road for they can leap pretty far.
The Missouri Lone Star Tick
The two most frequently encountered ticks in Missouri are the lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum (Pictured Above), and the American dog tick. The brown dog tick only feeds on dogs, but may be brought into homes with dogs and become an indoor pest. Many other species of ticks can be found in Missouri, but they come into contact with people less frequently. Remember your spray if you are going into wooded or vegetative areas!
First, avoid ticks if you can. Most ticks inhabit woods and brushy areas with abundant wildlife that serve as hosts. People walking through these areas are prone to tick infestations. If you go into these areas, examine your body thoroughly for ticks the next time you remove your clothing. Ask someone else to examine parts of your body that you can't see.
Sometimes people wander into large numbers of seed ticks. This can happen even on mowed lawns where a female tick has dropped from a passing animal. Literally thousands of these larvae can crawl up the legs of an adult or all over a child's body. The best thing you can do in these cases is to remove and launder infested clothing and bathe with soapy, hot water to remove the seed ticks. If you notice the problem before seed ticks have attached, use a cotton ball soaked with rubbing alcohol to wipe them off.
And of Course--The Mesquito!
I know there must be a reason God created this aweful insect, and believe me, I plan on asking him someday! All I can say is "yes, we have them, yes, bring your spray and yes, you are allowed to kill as many of them as you wish!!
And also we have the Mesquito Hawk, some call it the Crane Fly. This is a harmless very large looking Mesquito--looks like a mesquito on sterroids. It's harmless, unless you are a vegetable for they are vegetarian.