Ticks! by
(33 Stories)

Prompted By Fears and Phobias

Loading Share Buttons...

/ Stories

Both species of tick—ones that fly and ones that nest in the woods or the fur of animals- threaten all animal life. By the hundreds, they swarm snakes draining them of their blood.

Every morning, I check my bed and body for ticks.

Ticks transmit serious diseases.

Their indestructible bodies challenge our attempts to catch and kill them: too small and hardshell to squeeze to death, too fast to catch easily, and invisible in the darkness. The major way we know of their existence is from their scratching as they scurry over our bodies or are plucked from our skin.

When we successfully catch them with our fingers, we must hold them tightly or they will squirm away. The safe, but wasteful, way to dismiss them is to flush them down the toilet.

I prefer the large cockroaches in Taiwan which I dispatched every night and morning with a hammer.

I inadvertently collect ticks: while walking with my dog into the thickets where she collects hundreds of ticks. You can see a collection on a newspaper from my country lawn. Her black coat shields the existence of the insects which she brings to bed with me.

A photo from a neighbor in Northern Minnesota

Every morning, I check my bed and body for ticks. The search relays dual feelings: My fingers search my crevices and curves with fear of discovering intruders.

My fingers reveal flesh that is more like oatmeal than of the lacquered body of my youth. I was a swimmer, a self-defense student, and a jogger who reveled in my athleticism I could swim a mile, teach self-defense and street smarts, and hike many unexhausted miles in the mountains. Touching my body reminded me that today I cannot swim, cannot defend myself, and feel accomplished if I can take 3,000 steps per day.

Ticks are equally harbingers for climate change. The discharge of CO2 from coal energy and gas engines threatens our ecological and environmental systems. The increasing hordes of ticks are a product of our deforestation, including pesticides killing off the rodent predators such as birds, wolves, and snakes leaving the fields full of rodents. Rodents are the family habitat for ticks.

Furthermore, climate change produces higher temperatures and humidity which are the engines for producing ticks.

The tick threat also affects our culture. Greek mythology symbolized life, health, and human regeneration with a snake curled around a pole. The World Health Organization adopted this symbol for its seal. The snake is a hope for our lives.

However, today the ticks are swarming local wildlife, feeding on their blood and infecting them with disease and extinction. These hordes attack their fiercest enemy, the snake who destroys their habitat. The new symbol for the effects of climate change may be snake-covered ticks.

Authors’ Note: When I thought of a phobia I, of course, thought of nuclear war. But I do believe our military now is strategic enough to use other non-nuclear weapons or to create non-nuclear weapons with the same destructive power. So instead of radiation, beware of a silver medallion with a snake on it.

Profile photo of Richard C. Kagan Richard C. Kagan

Characterizations: moving, well written


  1. Being city bred I have lived a mostly bug free life – lucky me.

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    Yikes! That snake picture was hideous, not to mention the newspaper covered with ticks. You are right about climate change, environmental destruction (also, along with warfare nuclear or not, worthy of fear) and the increase in ticks and tick-borne disease. I joined a hiking group this year and have made a reacquaintence with ticks as a result. So far, worth it, but still….

    • Khati: I am more fearful of predator cars which litter rural areas with road kill and the highways with debris of drunk drivers. Or even more worse is the Amendment two advocates who overlook the killings in schools, shopping malls, domestic abuse, and in domestic abuse relationships.

      thanks for your comment.

  3. Thanx Richard, your story is worrisome. We spend half our time in a community beautifully nestled within a state forest but do have to worry about ticks.

    Luckily so far we’ve stayed tick-free, but this spring the bears have gotten more aggressive and have broken thru screen doors entering some neighbors’ houses! But of course it’s we who’ve trespassed on their territory!

  4. Yes! Ugh. When I was trucking from commune to commune in the 1970s, we spent hot summer time with our two dogs, Wooly and Zoom. Besides a penchant for desert and mountain porcupine quills, the two dogs loved to roam through the New England woods. They picked up ticks under their collars where they would gorge themselves on doggy blood and swell to grotesque sizes.

    We would have to literally “unscrew” them, twisting them counterclockwise to extract them without the head remaining to become infected. It was disgusting. Poor dogs.

    As you say, with the deterioration of the ecosystem, deer ticks began to proliferate and create a menace to human and beast alike. When I was a kid, you could roam the New England woods without fear. Now, even the most innocent of woods walk might end with you finding tiny little beasts carrying a near-deadly virus. Ugh… ticks.

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    More than I ever wanted o know about ticks! Thanks for educating me.

  6. As you did with Khati, you successfully freaked out this reader with the image of the ticks on the newspaper, pulled off your dog, as well as with the closing descriptive image of the snake being attacked by a tick. Oy! Your writing is effective–but not always heartwarming!

Leave a Reply