Monday, April 18, 2011

"I Wanna Check You For Ticks"

No one likes mosquitoes.  I've seen people curse, swat, spray, itch, and find cover.  But ticks are much, much worse.  There is something absolutely creepy about a bug that buries its head in your flesh for an extended period of time to suck your blood.  And ticks don't tend to go for arms and legs.  No, adding insult to injury, ticks go for personal, private places and carry nasty diseases.  Here's a pretty basic description of ticks, courtesy of an entomologist at UC Davis, "Ticks are blood feeding external parasites of mammals, birds, and reptiles, throughout the world."  Just reading it makes the hair on the back of my neck prickle.

Ticks, like other bugs, go through several changes as they grow from larvae, to nymphs, to adults.  At each stage in the life cycle a tick feeds once on one host.  With each change they choose a progressively bigger host to feed on (lucky you and I). An adult female, after her final feeding, will then lay thousands of eggs.  More goosebumps prickling on my skin.  Ticks stand around on bushes and the tips of grass hanging on with two of their eight legs and waving the remaining six in the air so that they can easily grab onto a passing animal.  It might take them two years to complete a life cycle--only three meals in two years.  They can wait in the right place for months for an unlucky host to walk by.

This week I got up close and personal with a few ticks.  It began as just a normal office day.  Just after I arrived a friend rushed in and I confirmed for her there was a tick buried in the back of her neck, just below her hair.  A slow, steady pull with tweezers removed him and I took him outside to give him a chance to say his last words.  I didn't give him long to think of some.  A few minutes later she found a second tick buried in her hair with his head in her scalp.  Another slow pull with the tweezers and another trip to the guillotine outside.  I wish I had a great, happy ending for this story.  Yes, ticks are a marvel of natural adaptation and survival, but I still get the shivers when I think of little heads buried in sucking blood.  I was going to post a picture, but just seeing them magnified a hundred times gives me the creeps.  It's high season for ticks until at least June.



Sources: http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/faculty/rbkimsey/tickbio.html, www.theticknipper.com/howticksfeed.html

3 comments:

evieperkins said...

Did you see Befie's tick stories on facebook? Those gave me the willies!

Rachel Eddington said...

I did see them. "Willies" is an understatement about how I feel after pulling two out and seeing them come out still holding onto strands of flesh.

fm7 said...

As a kid in Scout camp the worst part of the "here you are at camp" introduction talk was the part about getting ticks in one's pubic area. I didn't know exactly where this "public" area was (I thought pubic must have been a mispronunciation of public)but it scared me.