Spring and summer, for me, means getting out into the countryside. Either for long walks, bike rides or a round of golf. Churchill once described golf as an effective way to ruin a good walk. The way I have been playing lately, I tend to agree.
Being out in the countryside also means being exposed to the perils and deadly threat of wildlife such as ticks.
In my opinion, ticks serve no useful purpose in the greater scheme of things and therefore, if they disappeared, they would not be missed. As vectors for Lyme disease (also known as borrelia) and tick-borne encephalitis, TBE, ticks do pose a serious threat to our health and wellbeing. I therefore, took the opportunity to get vaccinated against TBE, when out shopping a couple of weeks ago.
My dislike of ticks started when I was a child and used to go on walks in the hills behind my grandparents’ house in Barmouth. I don’t recall ever being bitten by a tick, but the fear of them has been ever-present ever since.
A number of years ago, I was on a ride in the countryside when a call of nature required me to take a discrete stop by the roadside. Much relieved, I continued my ride, but after a short while, I noticed something moving just above my knee. It was a tick, I quickly brushed it away and continued, but I started getting an itchy feeling, the sort that can turn up just at the mention of tiny creature that try to nourish themselves on my blood. Slightly irritated, I stopped just to check, and found another trying to creep under my cycle-shorts. Fearing the presence of more unwelcome passengers, I turned off the road onto a deserted logging trail and found a large boulder on which to stand. Sure enough, I found another tick preparing itself for a few microlitres of my precious blood. Just to be sure that I had no more ticks, I removed my jersey and shook it thoroughly in the hope that I would be rid of any more ticks. As the logging trail was deserted, I did the same with my shorts [in order to avoid chaffing, cyclists have nothing between their shorts end skin]. Just as I stood clothed as I was born, waving my shorts in the air, an elderly lady rode sedately by. “Watch out for the ticks!” I called, but received no reply.
So, if you are out in the countryside, watch out for ticks ….. and cyclists!