A tick latched onto me the other day. I’m cool with wildlife but ticks creep me right the hell out. You don’t even feel them biting you until their heads are all the way in you, and then you sort of absently flick the area and that’s when you discover you have a tick butt hanging out of you. Then things get loud.

My typical reaction when I discover a tick is to scream Mommy Mommy Mommy only these days I scream Linda Linda Linda because my friend Linda is the next best thing, only right now she’s three thousand miles away, which is where the goddam ticks are supposed to be, too.  We’re not supposed to have ticks here. I mean, we do, but Dave has lived here his whole life and never had one on him. In the right locations, you’ll find him wearing a crust of mosquitoes and biting flies, so we figure he’s the bellwether for noxious critters. But he never even heard of doing a Tick Check, which was standard protocol for us Virginia kids when we came back from the woods.

There are things grosser than ticks, but they’re things that happen to Africans or caterpillars. For instance, there’s some kind of wasp that plants eggs inside a caterpillar and then its little grubs grow inside and eat all the juicy bits but avoid the parts that operate the caterpillar, and then all at once they tunnel their way right out of its skin and spin cocoons for themselves, and the caterpillar uses all its own cocoon silk to further shelter the wasp grubs, and fights off predators for them, and then it dies.

Those are worse than ticks.

But ticks are revolting. If you read up on them (say, you’ve just taken one out of your very flesh and you want to see how long you have to get your affairs in order), the authorities always refer to their “mouth parts.” That, right there, is revolting. That means either they don’t have lips, or they haven’t even bothered to completely assemble their mouths. Either way, gross.

There’s a trail here somewhere

It’s not that easy to pick up a tick in Oregon. I had to work at it. We went on an eight-mile hike on a trail that has not been cleaned up at all this year, and it was a heck of a winter for downed timber. We were climbing under logs and over logs and through logs and basically scraping off every living thing off logs and onto us, until finally the Only Tick In Oregon quit clinging to a log and caught a ride.

I’ve never had one buried so long it bloated up with Murr Juice. That would be fatal. And that is because you can totally die from the willies. I’m pretty sure it would be fatal to whoever was standing next to me when I found it, too.