Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Cootie's Only Skin Deep

A tick latched onto me the other day. I'm cool with wildlife but ticks creep me right the hell out. You don't even feel them biting you until their heads are all the way in you, and then you sort of absently flick the area and that's when you discover you have a tick butt hanging out of you. Then things get loud.

My typical reaction when I discover a tick is to scream Mommy Mommy Mommy only these days I scream Linda Linda Linda because my friend Linda is the next best thing, only right now she's three thousand miles away, which is where the goddam ticks are supposed to be, too.  We're not supposed to have ticks here. I mean, we do, but Dave has lived here his whole life and never had one on him. In the right locations, you'll find him wearing a crust of mosquitoes and biting flies, so we figure he's the bellwether for noxious critters. But he never even heard of doing a Tick Check, which was standard protocol for us Virginia kids when we came back from the woods.

There are things grosser than ticks, but they're things that happen to Africans or caterpillars. For instance, there's some kind of wasp that plants eggs inside a caterpillar and then its little grubs grow inside and eat all the juicy bits but avoid that parts that operate the caterpillar, and then all at once they tunnel their way right out of its skin and spin cocoons for themselves, and the caterpillar uses all its own cocoon silk to further shelter the wasp grubs, and fights off predators for them, and then it dies.

Those are worse than ticks.

But ticks are revolting. If you read up on them (say, you've just taken one out of your very flesh and you want to see how long you have to get your affairs in order), the authorities always refer to their "mouth parts." That, right there, is revolting. That means either they don't have lips, or they haven't even bothered to completely assemble their mouths. Either way, gross.

There's a trail here somewhere
It's not that easy to pick up a tick in Oregon. I had to work at it. We went on an eight-mile hike on a trail that has not been cleaned up at all this year, and it was a heck of a winter for downed timber. We were climbing under logs and over logs and through logs and basically scraping off every living thing off logs and onto us, until finally the Only Tick In Oregon quit clinging to a log and caught a ride.

I've never had one buried so long it bloated up with Murr Juice. That would be fatal. And that is because you can totally die from the willies. I'm pretty sure it would be fatal to whoever was standing next to me when I found it, too.

48 comments:

  1. I have never had, and never want to have a tick latch onto me.
    Leeches yes. And they are gross too. A leech in the ear is decidedly unpleasant. There are worse things about (particularly in some of the equatorial rainforests) but I refuse to think about them.
    Denial. Not just a river in Egypt.

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    1. Now I want to stand on a high wooden chair all day long and have people bring me snacks.

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  2. the first time I had a tick on me was in Maryland. It latched onto my scrotum (probably more than your readers want to know.) I had heard you should make them release with a lit cigarette. It didn't work, or I did not have the balls to see it through. I ended up going into sick bay and had a corpsman remove it - I got laughed at.
    We never had ticks in Maine until about thirty years ago, now they are everywhere.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. I've heard no man wants to be laughed at with his pants down. I think it's nice of you to offer your tick a last cigarette though.

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  3. I had a tick latch on once when I lived in Colorado. It wasn't there for long, but they are awful critters, I agree. They also carry diseases, so I do hope you got your affairs in order all right. :-)

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    1. Turns out I don't really have any affairs.

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    2. Well, you haven't had any affairs since you married that husband of yours, Dave! (Sorry, I just couldn't resist such low-hanging fruit...)

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    3. No, you've always liked low-hanging fruit.

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  4. Speaking as one of those Africans (where I had a civilized back yard, now in the first world I am overrun by deer - tick-infested deer - groundhogs, skunks, chipmunks and squirrels, but I digress) the most satisfying thing about a tick is squishing the little beggar. At least you can see the tick. Just think of all the other parasitic things which are hanging on microscopically. Google worms, you'll feel better about the tick.

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    1. I don't actually know anything about African parasites but I have a mental image of things that "corkscrew in" and make themselves at home. I could totally be making that up.

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  5. I live in a county that has ticks and has ticks with Lyme disease...a very dangerous disease. I have had early symptoms, was treated, and it worked, but it is just a matter of time until they win.

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    1. I have a vague notion that this is the kind of thing we're going to be fighting with global warming and you're right--they'll win.

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    2. On TV here in Australia recently there was an article about people presenting to their doctors with lyme disease and it's so rare here, the doctors didn't recognise it and didn't believe that's what the people had. Those people ended up in the hospital and recovered, but now the doctors are having to read up on things we never previously had here.

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    3. I wonder if it is what they had? Because ticks can bring myriad things. And I'm imagining they're not done yet. There will be new plagues on the horizon.

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  6. Now I have to shower and scrub with a wire brush!

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  7. If it was a larger tick, and left no "bulls-eye", then hopefully it was not a deer tick. Not to freak you out any more than you already are. And there are worse things than ticks or leeches. Think of poor John Hurt in the movie Alien. At least the tick isn't ripping out of your chest while you're enjoying a spaghetti dinner with your crew mates. (An unfortunate choice in entrees.)

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  8. You really should check out the National Geographic video on the wasp, if you like the Alien scene.

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  9. Bot-flies give me the willies. Our cat brought a rabbit home one day and then decided he didn't want it, so left it in the garden. My brother and I found it. It was covered in lumps with little moist parts in the middle of each lump. Each lump yielded a fat grub with raised segments like a screw. My memory is that they were about a half inch to 3/4 of an inch long. I heard about an entomologist who had a botfly larva in his scalp and decided to let it fully mature for scientific purposes. No. Just no.

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    1. But honey, you're a scientist. Sacrifice your body.

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  10. That is one angry looking bit of skin, Murr.

    We have Lyme Disease in our immediate area now. This has just developed over the last ten to fifteen years. Those cute little deers that bed down in our back yard are probably carrying. Eeek.

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    1. We don't have much in the way of big game but possums. I think they carry everything but it all stays on them and they can use it for a midnight snack.

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  11. I was perusing Facebook and came upon your tick treatise, laughed myself into a near cerebral hemorrhage, then continued on my perusal journey. Lo and behold, not two posts later,I come upon a National Geographic article titled "Caterpillars drum their anuses to attract new friends". Sort of makes me wonder what a caterpillar singles bar sounds like.
    I am now officially on orifice overload.

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    1. Now I know what I'm looking up for the rest of the afternoon.

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  12. I had an embedded tick. When I discovered it the little bugger waved all his creepy little legs at me. It was 1 AM and I got in my car and drove to the ER and told them to GET IT OUT!

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    1. If I'd had enough gas I'd have driven to Linda's house.

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  13. Lots of ticks here in Oregon. Do not use a cigarette to get them off. They will regurgitate while still attached before backing out.

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    1. Besides, who has a cigarette anymore?

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  14. I've had to deal with a few ticks.On the goats, possum and myself.One particularly deep one required a 10pm trip to the hospital to have the bugger scalpel'd out. And there's a story that goes..."Yeah, when that god fella was rushing 'round, creating everything in 6 days, he suddenly got to Sunday and found he'd run out of arseholes.So he just left the tick with no waste pipe."

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    1. Wait. Ticks have no arseholes? No wonder they bloat up.

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  15. I've never even seen a tick, I imagine they're similar to fleas, except with the burrowing mouth parts. I wouldn't have a clue what to do if one bit me. I'd probably head for the nearest hospital.

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    1. They're crusty and flat and have horrible little black legs.

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  16. Do something about that. At the very least circle it with a magic marker. Then do something about that. We watch them closer than realpolitics.com around, because realtics.com is even worse.

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    1. Since I just talked to Linda, I learned that that is a thing. She circles them so that when she presents with a fever she knows where the tick bite was. I had no idea. This really isn't a big problem here, yet.

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  17. Okay. Seriously. Circle it with a permanent marker and watch it. If it grows, go get checked out. Not kidding, Murr.

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    1. So, you and Linda are saying: circle the redness around the bite?

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    2. Yes. Between working at the zoo, the nature preserve and moving to the mountains I've gotten both more relaxed about nature's creepy crawlies (per your spider post) and cautious about things that can be truly dangerous. For example, I love snakes. I was happily making up to a magnificent black snake here on the mountain when I discovered it was a timber rattler. Amazing how similar they can look. Lyme disease is named after the town of Lyme, CT which is, of course, far east of you. Nevertheless, in Oregon, the causative organism, Borrelia burgdorferi, is transmitted by the bite of a small brown-black tick, Ixodes pacificus, which is also known as the Western Black-Legged Tick. Don't be overly alarmed but take Linda's (and my) advice- circle the outer rim of the red and keep an eye on it. Lyme disease would provide endless fodder for posts, but it's not worth it. Kind of like Trump.

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  18. My husband had discovered one on our dog once and it was huge. As he was trying to decide how to handle it, the thing exploded, and my husband threw up. The dog was totally oblivious.
    I hate ticks. Gives me the willies.

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  19. And you should go to the doctor as it looks infected.

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  20. I must vehemently argue one point--it is EXTREMELY easy to get ticks in Oregon. I spent spring breaks at a geology field camp as a kid. I'd get covered in ticks. I'd vomit and pass out every time my dad pulled one off me. I really don't like ticks at all.

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    1. Weren't you in Malheur, though? Lots of parasites there!

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  21. We rarely had them up here 30 years ago. Winters aren't as cold as they used to be and some things are surviving no matter how much I don't want them to. Now the nasty little fu***rs are everywhere. At least they won't get going until the snow melts which should be in a few weeks.

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    1. Where you at, Minnesota? If so I do believe you have mosquitoes, so keep an eye out for those.

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  22. I don't like the look of that bite, Murr. Do the magic marker thing but get it looked at, ok? They are filthy things. Your psyche might be steel but your innards are miles of express routes to organs you don't want messed with.

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    1. Well put. It's now June and although it's still a raised bump, I appear to be in the clear.

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