Last week on a visit to the site of a new house in Kendall County I had the opportunity to help some young Trombicula autumnalis grow into adulthood. Known also as "chiggers", in their larval stage these beasties crawl onto their hosts (in this case me), bore a small hole into the flesh of that host (in this case my lower leg) and insert a stylostome into that hole so that they can secret an enzyme that breaks down cells of the inner layer of the skin. Once they have received the nourishment they need from this, they fall off their host and go on to live an outstanding life as herbivores.
Of course after this happens, large blisters often form where they had attached to their host. Apparently I was acting as a daycare center for these little guys as I had 30 itchy reminders of my part in the circle of life.
Although I cannot help but wish my flesh was slightly less delectable to my young insect friends, I can't help but appreciate the efficacy of the design of the process. I tell myself this as I dab hydrocortisone onto my legs which now appear to have been peppered by a shotgun.