Flea Bite Creek – short on fleas, big on other critters

Even in an area where the streams and bodies of water have names such as Squirrel Creek, Four Hole Swamp and Smoke Pond, the name Flea Bite Creek stands out.

It’s difficult to determine how long ago the creek got its unusual name, which seems a bit of a misnomer today as there are few, if any, fleas along its banks. But given the sandy soil found in the area, near Cameron, S.C., in Calhoun County, less than an hour south of Columbia, it’s possible the irritating parasites once inhabited the locale in abundance.

Standing on a bridge over Flea Bite Creek, with a view of algae-covered water, thick cypress trees and a great deal of brush along the banks, it would seem a more appropriate name for the stream would be “Snake Bite Creek.”

Another possibility is “Gator Gulch.”

But back 250 years ago when the region was being settled it’s likely nearly every lake, river and swamp in South Carolina was filled with snakes, venomous and otherwise, meaning this sluggish stretch of water wouldn’t have stood out had it been host to cottonmouths, copperheads or king snakes.

Not only that, there’s something to be said for a foe one can see, and avoid, even if it’s a six-foot snake, rather than one the size of sesame seed that jumps in an unpredictable manner.


11 thoughts on “Flea Bite Creek – short on fleas, big on other critters

  1. Outside the city of San Ignacio where I live in Belize, there’s a large subdivision in the bush named “Mosquitoville,” near a creek of the same name. Unlike the lack of fleas along Flea Bite Creek, Mosquitoville and its creek still have plenty of mosquitoes, Belize me. (The city does go down there with a fogger somewhat frequently, though, to prevent dengue fever outbreaks). Mosquitoville is never pictured in the Belizean travel brochures and posters for some reason.

  2. In France we had nasty bugs called aoutats…as they came out in Aout…known to Anglophones as August.
    You would mow the grass and disturb them…their revenge was dreadful. They would creep into every crevice of your skin and itch like fury….and when you showered them out left their legacy in the form of some sort of acid which kept you reminded of their presence for days.
    You could always tell those afflicted by the twitching and shuffling as they tried to alleviate their suffering.
    Mark you, Leo would have swapped them for the nasty surprise he had last week when taking pots from a storage box to plant up…carrying on serenely he reached the bottom layer and found himself about to disturb a nest of young fer de lance snakes…
    Potting up abandoned for the day…

  3. And how can there be what seems like half a dozen spots in the midlands and lowcountry, identified by official Highway Dept signage, as “Ox Swamp”? I’ve lived my entire life in SC and have never seen, or heard tell of any oxen in the area.I do have it on pretty good authority that oxen have a nasty habit of getting stuck in ditches, maybe a connection?

    Near Sumter SC there is a community called “Chigger Grove”.I doubt the name was selected by the chamber of commerce!

    • Chigger Grove? I’m on my way it? Sounds absolutely delightful, doesn’t it?

      Not sure about the ox fascination. Perhaps someone a long time ago inadvertently left the “f” off “fox,” making Fox Swamp into Ox Swamp.

      • As you know, oxen were commonly used as draft animals. I have been told oxen are stronger, slower, and certainly more docile and patient than horses or mules as well as being better in bad terrain. Here in Western North Carolina one side of a particular mountain has an area known as Bull Creek while the immediate other side is Ox Creek. The obvious, and possibly true, story is that a bull was purchased in the Swannanoa area and on the walk over the mountain it became so unruly that the purchaser castrated it and the remainder of the trip the animal was an ox. It makes sense whether or not it is true. 🙂

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