The lowly tick

Sturdy North Dakotans have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of this season for several months.

Not spring or summer. I mean wood tick season, that joyous time of year when those worthless little creepy crawlers hold all of humanity hostage with the exception of those who wander aimlessly as a result of a severe case of tick-borne Lyme disease.

Yes, those crawly, blood-sucking creatures are on the move again. Reports are coming in from all points of the compass of people, pets, even automobiles succumbing to the mini-fangs of those leacherous, ill-tempered, disease carrying masters of ambush.

OK, no automobiles have yet been reported to have been bitten by ticks. But the no-good pests certainly are known for hiding inside motor vehicles and making surprise appearances. You won’t realize they are there until you hit 80 mph in an ill-advised and dangerous effort to pass another vehicle in unforgiving traffic. That’s when you’ll feel the telltale tick legs crawling up your neck, headed for your hairline.

Know the feeling? Reliving it now?

For many tick connoisseurs, a multiple rollover is greatly preferred over a berserk tick reaching its destination. Maybe that’s the origin of the phrase, “ticked off.” Could be.

I’ve seen those useless little devils crawl across snowbanks after a late spring storm and crawl across charred grasses immediately following a prairie fire. The despicable cusses are not deterred by such things. They only know they need to harass the living to the point where even sleep is impossible.

Those who have bravely removed a tick or two dozen after an outing outdoors know this is true. Lay down and try and get some sleep, and you’ll remain wide awake because all of your senses automatically have become focused on feeling for those creepy legs crawling somewhere on your body. No matter what you do to cleanse yourself of them, there is always one more tick to be found. Always. It is a wood tick rule, an iron-clad pledge to which they religiously adhere.

Yes, that glorious season is here. Pet the dog, get a wood tick. Pick some berries, get a wood tick. Sit on the riverbank, get a wood tick. Enjoy a picnic, get a wood tick. Go for a hot-air balloon ride, get a wood tick. Scuba diving? Wood tick. Park in a paved lot? Wood tick. Clever and infinitely creepy, wood ticks have no boundaries.

Recently I’ve received multiple e-mails from firms claiming to have the “magic formula” for keeping ticks at bay. There’s tick wipes, which I suppose would do little more than put a nice shine on the lousy culprits. Another firm is touting a “tick blanket,” the idea being to wrap yourself in it while outdoors to keep the ticks at bay. Yeh, that’ll work. There’s even tick resistant blue jeans and shirts and socks.

Some wise guys say bug repellent with DEET is the way to go in tick country, which is anywhere and everywhere. Personally, I think ticks drink the stuff. The only thing a person can really do at this time of year is wait until tick season is over. Usually that occurs during a spell of hot weather in late July or August. Until then, ticks rule.

Creepy, isn’t it?