My Greatest Fear #65: Tick Swarms

If I told you that you had a tick on you right now, how would you feel? Maybe a uncomfortable, a little squeamish, eager to remove it but concerned about ensuring all of it is removed?

Now, imagine if I told you that you had TEN ticks on you right now.

Nope nope nope, right? Well, I’m here to tell you that this is one of my rare paranoias that can actually happen.

Last week I wrote about the amazing experience I had at the Gamers Ranch. There’s just one small catch about visiting rural Missouri in early summer: There are ticks in the woods.

You can avoid these ticks by staying inside and playing games or spending your outdoor time in the pond. But if you want to play disc golf, you can’t avoid the tall grass and trees.

Prior to last week, my understanding was that ticks are solitary creatures. If one just happens to be hanging out near you, it might jump on you, and hopefully you’ll discover it soon after. But I learned firsthand last week that my assumptions are false (or at least not true in every case).

Here’s what happened: I took a group of novice disc golfers on a romp through the woods on Monday afternoon. We made it through 6 baskets without any issues–not a single tick.

We each threw towards the 7th basket, and as we walked towards our discs, I noticed a tick on my leg. It was still walking, so I flicked it off. Then, a few feet later, a different tick appeared. Then another. Then another.

Within the span of 40 feet, I literally found 6 ticks on me. And then I later found 4 more.

I’ve never experienced anything like that before. It’s like we walked through some sort of nest or swarm (it wasn’t just me–everyone I was with found at least a few ticks during or before that basket). I tried not to think about it, but I didn’t sleep well that night, as every brush of the blanket could have been another tick finding purchase.

Have you ever encountered a tick swarm like this? I hope you never do, as it’s quite unsettling.

16 thoughts on “My Greatest Fear #65: Tick Swarms”

  1. OMG, about 3 years ago I planned a weekend camping trip with my daughter. Father daughter trip with the dog. Beautiful weekend, probably about this time of the year. We parked and took a hike before pitching camp. We hiked maybe a mile, and you guessed it, major tick infestation. All over our legs, all over the dog. It was awful! We went to the nearest drug store to get tweezers and alcohol. Ended up getting back in the car and driving home to tick shampoo the dog and ourselves. Never went camping again.

  2. I was going to tell you about a story about my friend with a tick but I decided you didn’t need anymore added fear of ticks lol but let’s just say, ticks are not cool!!

  3. Wow Jamey, that sounds like a nightmare. We really love camping, and fortunately have never had the experience of ticks on our adventures in the great outdoors, but I can see how that would completely ruin a trip! The worst we get is mosquitos, and they just love me (probably because they find plenty of nice, sweet red wine in my blood!) but the idea of ticks is terrifying… Did you end up tick-free in the end?

    • I’m glad it hasn’t happened to you, Pat! Mosquitos are rough too. I think I’m tick free. I only found one more among my clothes after I returned home.

  4. On a trip down a mountain we went through a ticks nest my daughter( at the time 4 years old) got literally over a 100 little baby ticks. I got approximately 30 and my wife around 50. We spent 2 hours with flashlight in the basement(cabin) to pick them of…we did not want them in the garden…had trouble sleeping that night. Felt them crawling…still found a couple the next morning.

  5. Ticks and poison ivy are my two biggest nature fears, but with the latter I’m usually able to spot it from quite a distance. Ticks are so invisible until they are on you! I basically don’t spend a lot of time in Missouri wilderness when it’s warm. I’m generally a cold-weather hiker and I almost never camp. I tend to worry for my kids, too, but they love being outside and jump at every chance they get to go camping with my in-laws, so I have to let it go to a certain extent. Sorry you had to go through this!

  6. A must for my disc golf bag are tick and mosquito sprays. I say sprays because I like to carry the more gentle ones for my boys, but I am 100% deet and pecaradin – anything that can lesson the threat. I need to put a tick specific remover in there now that Im thinking about it.

  7. I don’t cuss that much, but to ticks I say “those fuckers!”

    PS – As an aside, but the reason I wandered to your blog post via Twitter: I just interacted with David Simon, writer and creator of The Wire (and Treme, The Deuce, etc.), on Twitter and felt a little star struck. Have you ever gotten to converse on Twitter with somebody famous who you admire? It is a cool feature of the platform, though it’s hard to say if it makes up for it being a cesspool of vitriol and misinformation oftentimes.

    • That’s really cool! Sometimes the internet is awesome. 🙂 I don’t use Twitter much, but I’ve had some fun interactions with authors and professional disc golfers.

      • I consume some news (or more lighthearted) commentary on Twitter, but very rarely post, so it’s fun when I do cross paths with somebody of note.

  8. I was extremely sick for well over a year until a chance remark by someone reminded me that I’d pulled a very fat tick off myself not long before I got sick the year before. My doctor ran tests for all tick-borne illnesses and darned if I didn’t have a rare one (for the Midwest) called anaplasmosis. If I’d had it long enough, it could have killed me. Be careful of ticks!


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