And now for something completely disgusting...

This is a Public Service Announcement:

It's TICK TIME!

This lovely creature was found attached to Happy's armpit. Looks like it was just in the nick of time as she has bloated to the "egg sac" stage, with her big old booty containing nearly a thousand of the little nippers. It's a bit of a shock to us as it's been cold and snowy here a lot of the last few weeks, but there have been a few pretty warm days.
People ask me in trying to justify the "all god's creatures" theme what I think the purpose of a Wood Tick (or Dog Tick) is on Earth. Basically, the thing they do best is spread disease, as they love to hook on to so many nice warm-blooded mammals. It's said that they can sense carbon-dioxide being exhaled. But they do have their own predators, namely "Tickbirds", also known as oxpeckers, trained chickens that specialize in eating ticks off of cattle, and the ever-popular parasitic wasp. Seems like if there's a nasty ass parasite or ruthless spider that is impressive because of it's tenacious, almost malicious (anthropomorphizing here) killing methods, there's always those little parasitic wasps to dampen their day. Everybody has their own personal nemesis.
Keep an eye open for those ticks. Geez, I got an itch now.

4 comments:

buthidae said...

I'd rather have scorpion infestations than ticks.

dignature said...

Never having had a scorpion infestation, I can't pass a judgement on that, but yeah, at least scorpions aren't what I would consider parasites, as are ticks. I think parasites are a good rhetorical topic tho, and I'm considering a hike program about them and viruses. People say a "good" parasite is one that doesn't kill it's host (just sort of milks it for resources to the point of collapse), but it doesn't take many ticks on one organism to go too far. That's why some say we need to maintain balance of species or it will be too easy for these type of organisms to get out of control. Of course some might say WE are parasites of the Earth, always sucking up resources and never putting anything back. Hmmm.
At least our tick season in Minnesota is usually just a few months long, then the attachment activity slows way down because it gets too dry in the grasses. But, the little buggers in the next batch will go many months without their first "meal". Then they go many months again until they need one for the next stage of growth. You can see how things could get out of whack if even the local climate changed enough to get a lot of their cycles overlapping. Gah.
Then there are the people that just live with it and embrace the issue, such as the little town called Moquah (Muh-qwah) near my hometown in Northern Wisconsin. Most towns have like a three-day commemorative celebration, with picnics, stock car races, fish fry, and the like. Moquah has it's "Pioneer Day" featuring...
Wood Tick Races. I'm not sure what the winner gets, I don't even want to think about it.

buthidae said...

Eons ago, I worked one summer for one of my profs doing a small mammal survey in western New Mexico. We'd set traps in the evening, and go check them next morning. One of my captures was a shrew, which I'd never seen before, but knew from the prerequisite literature I'd read. Attached to it was a tick. My recollection is that the shrew was exactly the size of my right thumb. And the tick was exactly the size of my left thumb. That mammalian sized,engorged tick was the stuff of terrible B scifi movies generally, and years worth of tick nightmares personally. Give me a scorp any time.

dignature said...

I wonder if scorpions would eat ticks. Maybe you could ship us some excess scorpions, they would eat our ticks and then die in the winter. Ooo, That's harsh for the scorps: Eat ticks & die!
On second thought, bio-remediation never seems to work without repercussions. Remediation: the very word is associated with "remedy", which sounds like an assumed impossibility to me. Like "Cold Remedy" assumes you will still have a cold, just not as bad.
Some chickadee would probably eat too many scorpions lying around on the snow and become venomous or something and we'd have killer chickadees on our hands.
Um, nevermind. Keep your scorps.