Ticks of the Trade

Ticks of the Trade

Ticks of the Trade

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Sept. 27 2005 9:06 PM

Ticks of the Trade

Note: This entry was featured in the 18th Skeptics Circle hosted at Wolverine Tom's.

I remember once, many years ago, taking my dog out to the park. It was wonderful: trees, a lake, paths through the forest. The area was beautiful, the sounds serene, and even the smells delightful and earthy.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Advertisement

My dog and I had a tremendous time. We got home, exhausted, to rest for a while. But I noticed, even though she was wiped out, she was scratching at her ear, trying to dig at it.

I lifted her floppy ear up, and, just inside the canal, was a tick. Fat and repellent, it had obviously clambered on board while we were enjoying the forest. There it was, that disgusting parasite, its head was buried deep into the flesh of my dog's ear, its fat hindquarters sticking up into the air. It had waited on a leaf or blade of grass somewhere, masquerading in a way as part of the beauty of the park, and pounced when it saw an opening. The parasite was taking advantage of our enjoyment of nature, sucking the blood out of my dog and potentially infecting her with some noisome disease.

I took action. Gathering my tools, I carefully removed it using tweezers. When it was out, I cleaned out the wound and applied a disinfectant.

Some people wonder why I fight antiscience and take on its proponents so often. To be honest, it gets tiring, the rewards unobvious, the goals sometimes distant and hidden. But then I remember that tick, hind legs twitching feebly in the air. Unable to create any nourishment on its own, it had to suck out the life blood of another, damaging it in the process.

Scientific parasites are lurking everywhere, just waiting to attack an unprepared person, ready and very willing to take advantage of our desire to appreciate nature. It's our job -- all of us, every single one -- to make sure that those abhorrent ticks never get the chance to bury their heads in our flesh.