NANFA-L-- Re: Freshwater stings

Laura Burbage (
Mon, 21 Mar 2005 12:32:50 -0800 (PST)

Where was the ditch? Could make a big difference.
I'll assume near your home, SE NC?

Were there grasses growing in the water, sticking out?
A few grasses have very sharp, saw-like serrations on
their edges. Leersia hexandra, which grows in your
area, is GREAT for this. It gives a rash of long,
thin, shallow abrasions that sting like all-get-out
and leave long red welts. They will leave tiny linear
scabs afterwards for a day or so. A day mucking about
in this plant can really hurt.

Alternatively, was your ditch very stagnant? In full
sun, with areas of open water? It could be a rash
from sponge spicules. Freshwater sponges create these
little dormant packages called gemmules. These are
loaded with spicules, which are spines made of silica.
If there are a lot of sponges/gemmules in the water,
the spicules can give a rash not unlike a fiberglass
rash. Carolina bays are full of these things. (Leave
it to me to work in a system that gives me a rash).
It helps a lot to tape your pants to your boots, so
the water must pass through the pants, which act as a
filter. Not foolproof, but keeps a lot of the
spicules (and any biting/stinging water insects) on
the outside.


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