The Season of the Tick

Tape your pant legs and break out the tweezers - ticks are back and ready for war



Illustration by Brad Fitzpatrick

Last year was the year of the flea. This is the year of the tick." The veterinary technician doled out this dire prediction like a twisted Chinese horoscope featuring parasites instead of dragons and monkeys. She handed me the topical pest treatment for my dog, Floyd.

Year of the Tick. The warnings are heard in hospitals, doctors' offices, the workplace. Conversations around the water cooler move to Tick Talk, but only in the presence of other dog owners. People who don't own a pooch can balk to learn folks often share a bed with their dogs. So they really don't want to hear about discovering a tick tangoing across a pillow.

My parents reside on a woodsy country road in Durham, a ticks' paradise. Ticks have built retirement communities in this sylvan setting. The vet had informed me about an experiment where researchers dragged a sheet in the grass and large numbers of ticks hopped aboard. "Ticks might be drawn to light colors," he said while staring down at my champagne-colored mutt. Ticks in Durham think Floyd is a party bus.

"They can live for years without feeding - years spent plotting revenge for their imprisonment."

For people who are lucky enough not to have to know, ticks are extremely hard to kill. Some folks seal them up in tape before tossing them in the trash. I imagine ticks sawing themselves free or waiting for the tape to biodegrade before making a getaway. They can live for years without feeding - years spent plotting revenge for their imprisonment.

My mom has accepted her fate of trying to rid her two dogs of multitudes of bloodsucking beasts on a daily basis. She introduced me to the Tick Jar. Any lidded jar filled with rubbing alcohol will do. Drowning in alcohol guarantees a tick's demise.

Even tucked away in a cabinet, a jar of bloated creatures is quite unseemly so she covers her Tick Jar with festive wrapping paper. With her love of an orderly home and her warped sense of humor, my mom can keep the tick torture chamber in plain sight. And she changes the paper to keep the jar seasonal.

The Tick Jar made me think of other possibilities for New Hampshire pest decorating. What about a Tick Jar Basket; bright paper covering the jar, a crocheted pouch for the tweezers and a sweet knitted cozy for the hand sanitizer, all tucked in a basket with a handle. Decorative enough for any coffee table, convenient enough to grab on the go. No Fourth of July barbecue would be complete without a Tick Jar wrapped in red, white and blue striped paper for the picnic table. Tick Jar Baskets, a perfect gift for any new dog owner.

Why stop at ticks? We could bedazzle black fly netting. Paint the Slug Jug with grape leaf patterns and a lovely glaze before filling it with beer. Why use a boring old bucket with soapy water to stop Japanese beetles when a bright sea glass-covered Beetle Bottle can get the job done? If we surrender, the parasites win. Instead, we accept the Year of the Tick with aplomb and add flare to the despair. Tick Chic! NH

 

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