They use "cutting teeth to rip up your skin"!!

In my last post I wrote about how I was procrastinating on my must-get-done knitting projects by working on a new garden plot in the yard.   Since then I discovered that there are swarms of biting gnats all over the place, preventing me from staying outside for very long unless I’m covered in bug spray (which I hate to use).  I’ve never in my life  — (I’m talking about decades here!) — been attacked by biting gnats before, and they are NASTY.   I get these apparently allergic reactions to them — huge swollen lumps on my scalp where they bite.  When the first one appeared I was really freaked out, of course thinking I had suddenly developed a tumor.  But I soon realized what it was (thanks to some quick online research), and now I’m prepared.   My citronella candles weren’t working very well with the gnats, so I got some soy lemongrass candles that work better (from Swan Creek Candle Co).  And I got some Jason Tea Tree shampoo and conditioner to make my scalp less inviting to the bugs.  And I cover my exposed skin with lavender lotion as an extra precaution.  And believe it or not, it seems to work.  I just watered the flowers and mowed the lawn and didn’t get a single bite.  Hurray!

But get a load of this explanation of why the gnat bites are so awful:

So why does it hurt like mad when a gnat takes a meal from your arm or, even worse, your scalp? The secret is in the mouth parts. Sand gnats don’t just puncture your skin like mosquitoes do. Instead they rip it open using sharp cutting teeth located on the mandible [scary pictures if you follow the link below]. After inserting two sharp, sword-like blades into the skin as anchors, the sand gnat uses the cutting teeth to rip up the skin and get the blood flowing. As if that weren’t enough, the gnat then squirts a chemical into the open wound to inhibit blood clotting. The tiny pool of blood that forms is then sucked up through a straw-like structure called the proboscis. Some human victims have allergic reactions to the chemical and must endure itchy red spots or even swollen welts.”

Source: http://www.knowtheconnection.com/pdf/CC%20sand%20gnat.pdf

Pretty disgusting,  huh?  I’ve been asking around and it sounds like lots of people are being attacked by gnats this year, at least around here.  Ick.

Knitting progress

I’m 2/3 of the way done with the first sleeve on the Tranquility jacket (I need to come up with a name for this design asap), and now I feel a bit more confident that I’ll have enough yarn to finish (but it’ll be close).

Such slow knitting...but such nice yarn!!

Such slow knitting...but such nice yarn!!

The blue Rufflicious is going much slower but I haven’t given up yet on getting it done in time for TNNA.   Why do knitters do this to themselves?  And I say “knitters” because I know lots of other people who attempt to get things knitted on unrealistic timetables and end up pulling their hair out instead.  I’ve tried it a couple of times before, hoping to get a special garment done for an office party or other special occasion.  (Usually unsuccessfully….)  I’ve learned to always have a backup outfit ready to go, just in case.

Now if I can just keep my hands off the gorgeous Misti Alpaca that arrived from Webs yesterday….sooo soft!

Happy Memorial Day to those of you in the US.   Remember, be a safe BBQ’er!

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