Friday, July 15, 2011

bugs - most notably, ticks

Oh, there ain't no bugs on me, on me.
There ain't no bugs on me
There may be bugs on some of you mugs
But there ain't no bugs on me.
Oh, there ain't no ticks on me, on me.
There ain't no ticks on me.
There may be ticks on some of you hicks (or sticks)
But there ain't no ticks on me.
[our variation #1]

Oh, there ain't no ticks on Ziah, on Ziah.
There ain't no ticks on Ziah.
You can search both low-uh and high-uh
But there ain't no ticks on Ziah.
[our variation #2]

If non-farming persons like ourselves were going to move to North Dakota intentionally, it would be nice to live on "the edge" - of something. And as it turns out, we do! I mean, the exact geographical edge. Beyond the front yard are farms and fields; beyond the back yard are hills and forests. Things that normally go along with edges are wildness, danger, and intrigue, and our life here has been no exception. It's just that you have to think on a smaller scale. Bugs, my friends. Bugs of flight and bugs of bite. 

The first bugs we noticed were the ticks. Lands alive, we noticed the ticks. They are supposedly a spring time phenomenon, and they do appear to be waning in number as it gets hotter, thank the Lord. Rarely have I felt such animosity toward an entire class of living things as I now do toward the tick. We have picked ticks from every conceivable crevice and flat spot on each human and dog who calls this family their own. Only one tick has attached itself to Ziah before we could wipe it away, but the rest of us - not so lucky. And the thing is, these ticks can be apparitions if they so choose! You will search yourself or a fellow sojourner high and low and find nothing. Moments later, you will randomly reach back to scratch your back, and there's a stinking tick. There's no way it crawled that fast from the ground to your back, and yet it wasn't there a moment ago. They say ticks only crawl upward from blades of grass; they do not fly, and they do not fall out of trees. The all-knowing They.
One day, Zoralee and I happily skipped into the forest beyond our yard. Mind you, we were on a mowed grass trail. Zoralee was singing. I was taking photographs. Ziah slept peacefully in a pack on my chest. All at once, Zoralee noticed a tick on my leg. As we looked closer at ourselves, our eyes adjusted to tick vision, and we realized we were both covered in them. It was disgusting and really disconcerting. We ran back to the house, slapping at ourselves, tossing articles of clothing, wondering how we'd get this many of the horrid creatures off of us at a faster rate than they could attach themselves and sap us of our life blood. Zoralee had three in her ears alone.

my skirt, even after picking some ticks off
Ticks do carry diseases, but I was glad to learn the other day, via google, that they do not burrow themselves into your brain and stay there indefinitely. As a kid, I believed you had a narrow window of time to get the tick out of your scalp before tweezers, matches, and all the tools of the lay person were insufficient and it became necessary to secure a good surgeon. Hey, I also believed that we kids, playing in the fields behind our neighborhood, could be seen by the pilots in airplanes flying overhead unless we hid our fingernails, because duh, the sun could reflect off our fingernails, alerting them to our presence. How a pilot would land an airplane before we'd run the 100 yards back to the house, and what he or she would do with a handful of children building scrap wood forts - these were questions I didn't ask myself back then. So, let that be a lesson to you about the hazards of home schooling. Actually, that was before we were home schooled. Hmm. Maybe that's why we were home schooled. Anyway. (I'm teasing; I'm all for good home schooling)

Once ticks ingest their mammal blood meal - over a couple days, if I remember right - they drop off and go about their business, which probably includes breeding. Yes, making more ticks. They serve no other purpose, none of beauty and none of filling a niche in the ecosystem, at least no purpose that I'm willing to validate. The thought of a single tick laying hundreds and hundreds of eggs makes me want to spray our yard, and indeed, the whole of North Dakota, with whatever poison would do the trick, however dangerous and nasty of a substance it may be. And that's why overly emotional people should not be in positions of power whereby they make decisions that affect the health and welfare of the country's population. Ticks make people overly emotional.

A final gross tick story. Mere hours ago, I was carrying a pile of books from one room to another and saw a piece of gum stuck to the edge of one. I picked it off, and again, my eyes adjusted to tick vision, and I saw that it was an engorged tick, so huge that its legs were all curled up into itself and barely poking out. Ticks are oval shaped, you know, but if they were circles, this one would've almost been dime sized. Into the tick jar it went, which is our chosen method of disposal, and it made all the other dead or dying ticks totally jealous. It was NASTY on steroids. And it obviously dropped from someone around here, having satisfactorily partaken of a blood meal, heck, a whole blood buffet. It came from Kaladi, no doubt, though again, we search her pretty thoroughly whenever she comes into the house. Apparitions, I tell you.

There are lots of other bugs too that have been around in unusual numbers, the high waters no doubt contributing. Mosquitoes, common house flies that seem to cover entire sides of buildings, and beautiful dragonflies in two varieties. Dragonflies have always been, in my mind, a rarity. Something you point out to your walking partner when you see one perched on a rock. So, it's magical when they are flying all around you at every level of vision, close up to far away. When one hits your windshield, you kind of get the feeling you've just killed a fairy. They don't make as big of a thud as, say, hitting a bird, but they're not as inconsequential as a mosquito either.

in this little corner of sky alone, 8 dragonflies show up on film

A couple weeks ago, the little stream by the house suddenly had several varieties of life in it, thick schools of what looked like baby crawdads, minnows, snails, and one or two other things. I mention them, because they were bug-sized and some may very well have turned into bugs. Who knows? Each morning, when the stream was full, they swam around and around the eddies. As the day wore on and the stream subsided, more and more of them got stuck and died on the rocks at the edges. It started to smell. But by the next morning, the stream had washed the dead ones away, and there were teams of new ones, still the variety. 

I often wonder what we'll see next when we step outside. But however they travel, whether by swarm, troop, or drove, the main question I have for them is, "Do you eat ticks?"


Rena said...

Just reading this gives me the creepy-crawlies. I think I had more ticks on my body in my short 12 days there than in my entire life! (Have you learned any secrets for what to do about remaining bumps where a tick latched on? Unfortunately I have one at the base of my hair on my neck. Yuck!)

2 Moms of a Feather...Stick Together said...

I hate ticks!
I am sooooo glad I am in Montana.
Sounds like you cannot escape from them...are they even in your house?
Have you asked any of the "locals" there, what might help repel them?
Take care,

Shana said...

Gross-ick, yuck! I have the heebies from reading your post. How bizarre-that photo of your skirt is amazing! I can just imagine your checking all of Ziah's lil' rolls!

Rachel Clear @ Clearly Speaking said...

I love you guys like nothing else. You know this.

But unfortunately, I will never be coming to ND afterall.

I don't dig bugs.

lori said...

Mom - oooh! We people haven't had remaining bumps, but Kaladi has a few. I read the suggestion on some generic tick site that any time you're bit, you should consult a doctor, and save the tick just in case it needs to be examined for disease. That writer has obviously NOT been here. We would be calling every day through the thick of the season (and probably getting laughed at by the doctor's receptionist).

Nancy - we haven't had many in the house, because we try to de-tick out on the porch. There have been a few, although those had probably recently fallen off of someone/thing. We have been applying to the dog an anti-tick thing we overheard some people recommending. However, we've now found multiple ticks right on the exact places we've applied the stuff!

Shana - yes I do check his rolls! ha ha. I'd faint, no doubt, if I actually found one in there.

Rachel - don't worry about all this. I'm sure that the fall and winter see hardly any bugs, and since it's winter here forever, there shouldn't be trouble when you come. Soooo, start looking into tickets!