Welcome to Tickmandu

If you were an arachnid and looking for a great place to spend a
summer, northern Minnesota would be an obvious choice. The humidity,
temperature and constant buffet of warm-blooded mammals would appear
to you as the beaches of Florida must appear to youth during spring
break.

If you haven’t realized the subject of this column is the tick, I
will now share with you this bad news. I am not speaking of facials
tics but rather the tick whose name- whether it be deer, wood or dog,
brings revulsion to most who roll up their pant legs and obsessively
check themselves .

The tick has been here since before we arrived, finding furry
creatures to play host to its parasitic lifestyle. Ticks carry many
diseases in the form of bacteria which they share with us during the
blood-sucking process (I swear I just felt something creeping on my
shoulder, just my imagination-for now.) Ticks are eight-legged and
use those legs to hang onto plants or trees and wait for a host (just
felt another phantom tick) upon which to latch, cut through the
epidermis, inject anticoagulant and feed; absolutely gross-just plain
gross.

Lisa, Jeanette and I attended a rain-speckled campfire last Friday at
Teresa’s place. Teresa’s brother Eric and his daughter, Billie had
come over from Idaho for a few days. One or two empties into the
conversation, the talk turned to wood ticks (I just scratched, again)
and the stories of irritating encounters with dermacentor variabilis
slowly crept across the kitchen table.

Old men like to tease young girls because we know they typically have
a high emotional center of gravity. I guess I am old now as I
couldn’t resist telling Billie every lie I knew about wood ticks. My
favorite was that most wood ticks are translucent and therefore
invisible. For this reason, I felt she should know that any time she
felt a wood tick but could not find it, it was still probably there.
Statements like these dig themselves into the psyche and earn
disturbing returns on their investment. Billie is pretty
strong-minded and just laughed-off most of my (scratched again)
baloney.

If you have animals that frequent the outdoors, it is in your mutual
interest to give them a monthly dose of Frontline or something
similar. When I was young, we did not have these formulations so
instead picked wood ticks off our pets. It was unpleasant for
everyone involved and sometimes the ticks had fed for more than a few
days. I will keep this column as PG-13 as I can but let’s just say
after a couple minutes of removing ticks who had enjoyed a few too
many, I would swear-off olives for the immediate future.

I woke-up the morning after our visit to Teresa’s with a tickle or
perhaps a scratch at the corner of my mouth. We had spent a fair
amount of time among trees and grass the previous evening so my
assumption was that this was a tickle that needed my attention. Like
any good film director of horror movies, I will not tell you what
happened next. I will simply leave you with a description of the
scene, give you the information required by your imagination to come
to an accurate conclusion and now fade to black.

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