Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

The Mysterious Biological Micromachines

August 3rd, 2011

It’s a stealth weapon. Its attacks are rare and random. It generally strikes once and is gone. It’s never seen.

Case History: I will feel a sudden, slight prick, generally under clothing, and discover a fresh “bug” bite, but with nothing there that could have caused the bite. The bite will swell into a hard, mildly itchy lump, and will often develop a red halo an inch and a half or more across. If that’s an infection, this little nasty has some very dirty jaws.

Additional Details: There is only one bite. Months, even years, separate repeat occurrences. Geography doesn’t seem to matter. The last time this happened was nine months ago in an air-conditioned hotel room in Palm Desert, California.

Occam’s Razor suggests the assailant is a naturally evolved arthropod—either insect or arachnid—but exactly what it is, I still have no idea.

It’s not a mosquito. I hardly react to those and they don’t get under clothes.

It’s probably not a bedbug or a flea, because they don’t bite just once and then disappear.

I’m guessing it’s a spider, probably a tiny, newly hatched one. I’d really like to know what it is though. I’d like to see it. So I can smash it.

Deep down, I’m not a very nice person.

Posted on: Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 at 2:32 pm
Categories: General.
Tags: ,

3 Responses to “The Mysterious Biological Micromachines”

  1. Glen Says:

    It’s WAR!!! Interspecies war, tooth & claw, uhhh, fang.

    However, that one doesn’t sound familiar. I don’t think it’s a terror of Lower Peninsula MI, CT, Piedmont VA, Pacific NW, Central Valley CA (well, where I lived, near Sacramento), Uplands CO, or any of the places I’ve merely spent time and not actually lived.

    Some Googling turned up the Usual Suspects (mosquitos, ticks, & fleas) and some less familiar ones (I believe a Brown Recluse would do a lot more damage…, ditto Black Widows). However, I suggest an alternative that might make a literature search more difficult..

    For the frequency, both _once_ per event and over the years (you can remember a bug bite years ago? impressive), this suggests mistaken host identification. That is, you were bitten by something targeting an entirely different species. You didn’t “taste good”, and that’s why there was only the one bite.

    As for what to do with it, I’d like to see a _tiny_ Occam’s Razor slicing it up.(easier for me to visualize that than a Gardan’s Steelyard crushing it). I try hard to practice “humanity” toward some species (I used to take household spiders outside, now that I know they really live inside I just transplant them to behind the wood stove), and not others (black widows get immediate execution). It’s a Beautiful World, but sometimes not a nice one.

  2. Linda Says:

    This is the truth:

    It’s a Beautiful World, but sometimes not a nice one.

    I’m actually pretty lucky, because at the elevation we live, there aren’t too many mosquitoes, and none of the awful large centipedes that are common down country.

  3. Glen Says:

    Almost on track…, is that I love Patrick O’Hearn’s “Beautiful World” – a dreamy audio reflecting of some of what I feel when hiking in the mountains, gazing at the ultra-fluorescent flowers beside the trail, seeing a _Fata Morgana_ castle in the clouds….

    There are small centipedes locally that I try to avoid; they serve their function (just let ’em serve it well away from my skin, thanks). Luckily, none of them are anywhere near the low elevation of my home; I only see them in the forest.