As you can probably guess by the title, this week’s post is about ticks. Ticks are a kind of mite, which is in turn a kind of arachnid, like spiders or scorpions. They can be very small, like mites that parasitize arthropods such as bumble bees and spiders; but the big guys latch onto large mammals, like humans. Mites can be a problem for people because they can easily be vectors for disease. When a mite latches onto a human (or deer) to feed, it consumes blood, but that blood doesn’t always go just one way. If a person tries to remove a tick improperly they can make the mite egest its previous meal right into themselves! This sounds pretty gross, right? Unfortunately, the previous host may have had Lyme disease, which can be passed onto the future host. However, we do have antibiotics for Lyme disease, although prevention is far better than treatment. To avoid ticks, you can wear bug spray, long sleeves, and tuck your pants into your socks, a strategy which makes the BIObus team look extra cool with our bug nets. The spark for all of this discussion came from the tick that I found on myself two days into the trip, which we mistook for a blood spot on my neck from a blackfly. The next day or so I pulled it off and saw that it was a tick. With a trip to the hospital for some blood work and a prescription for antibiotics we were soon back on the road! From now on, I think the team and I will be a bit more careful when walking through the forests.
A side note on mites: While sorting one of our collection samples, I found a lot of mites. Two or three times as many mites as other bugs, in fact! These are some really “mitey” bugs we’re finding in Fundy.