My husband and I learned a very valuable lesson about seasonal pest control that year - carefully read the instructions on all your pest control packaging. As luck would have it (not really), the flea and tick season was one of the worst in recent history, and due to our failure to adequately protect ourselves from the onslaught, it seemed that we had invited the little suckers right into our home. For five hellish, exhausticking and anxiety ridden days, I was unable to sleep a wink in my own bed.
Tick all began on a Saturday. I noticed what looked like a spider on the wall behind the sofa in our living room. Upon closer inspection, I realized it wasn't a spider at all, it was a brown dog tick. My Dad was staying tick us at the time, and he happened to be sitting mere inches away from this thing, so as not to alarm my guest I discreetly pinched the little bugger in a tissue and ran to the bathroom to flush it. I hoped it was just a stray, since I had been in a cleaning frenzy all day, maybe I had chased tick from the dog's bed while vacuuming? The next day, I continued with my major spring cleaning, but before the end of the night tick was clear that we had a major problem. I had found close to a dozen ticks in various places around our house. We were under attack.
The moment Dad left that Sunday, we went into full panic mode and removed all things dog-like from the house. Dog bed, dog toys, anything that touched the dog, even poor Bailey (our chocolate lab) was exiled for most of the night. Surely this was all a result of the fact that we had applied his treatment a little too late this month, right??? The ticks are just jumping ship because the medication was finally working, RIGHT?
Wrong. When we spoke to our pest control people on Monday morning, we figured out what had happened. To our horror, we learned that the stuff we had been using didn't treat ticks at all. It only controlled fleas. Heh? Why would something like that even be on the market if it doesn't do ticks? WTF?? We couldn't believe that we somehow overlooked this very important detail. It was a disaster. Upon realizing that Bailey was basically a walking tick farm, we sprung into action and threw his butt back outside. We were both 2 hours late for work that morning because we had to run to the store and get the appropriate dog shampoo, bathe the pup and apply the correct tick treatment so we could try to get things under control.
Meanwhile, our pest control people weren't done dishing out the bad news. They wouldn't be able to send anyone to treat the house out until Wednesday. We had to go TWO MORE days like this? It was all I could do not to stand on a chair screaming like a little girl. Don't get me wrong, it's not like there were ticks lining up in little formations on our walls (yet), but I am cursed with something my husband has ticknamed "bug radar." This radar is a sort of involuntary action that prevents me from relaxing until I've performed a visual scan of the walls and ceilings of any room I've just entered (basically looking for bugs). Maybe I was in the pest control business in a past life, maybe I'm just blessed with an incredible sense of peripheral vision, who knows. All I know is that this particular "disorder" can be really irri-ticking on a normal day, let alone on a day I find dozens of ticks in less than 6 hours!!!! And so, the unravelling began. How could we possibly go on for TWO MORE days in a house that was completely untreated!?!? It was only Day 2 and we were already strung out from battling them on our own. These little bastards are practically impossible to kill, you have to either smash them with a pickle jar-like object, gouge them with your fingernail or flush them down the toilet. So whenever you do spot one (depending on where it is) you have to go into ninja mode just to plan the attack. It was a nightmare.
Finally, Wednesday came and I practically hugged the pest dude when he showed up. I wowed him with the tick facts I'd learned during my Google search, explaining that we were only seeing the adults ticks (which btw was a good thing). In order to prepare for his visit, my husband and I had spent hours and hours moving furniture and cleaning beneath it. We had been instructed to relocate anything that was touching the floor, that included the dozens of shoes we had in our bedroom closet, all of our son's toys, the miscellaneous junk we had stuffed into spare closets, under beds etc. It was almost as disrupting as moving! Did I mention that I was 7 mos pregnant at this time? How about that our first born was only 2 years old? As if the preparation wasn't enough, no living creature (that was to remain living) could remain in the house during the treatment. We all had to evacuate the property for at least 3 hours. With no reasonable place to go (with the kitty), our only option was to board him, and since he hadn't seen the vet in more than a year, this also meant that we had to pay for an annual check up, vaccinations and of course - a flea/tick dip. Grrrr...these little pests were totally tick-ing over our life and weren't going stop until they took a bite out of our wallet too. >:(
Thankfully, despite the warning we got from the pest guy (that we might not see immediate results), we did! We never found another living tick in the house after they sprayed! What a relief, that all the expense and effort had paid off. Unfortunately, that is not the end this story...
About two weeks after this ordeal, we made a horrifying discovery. My husband and mother-in-law were in the living room one afternoon, when suddenly a small field mouse scurried across the floor and ran under our armchair!! One quick call to the pest guys revealed a very alarming fact. According to them, it was very likely that we did not have a mouse problem at all, they suspected that we had a MICE problem!! They explained that while ticks are often problematic for dog owners, it was more likely that our dog was not the one to blame for the outbreak, due to the fact that rodents are often the primary cause of tick infestations. Needless to say, the long sordid battle was eventually won - 12 glue traps later. (Mice 0, Humans 12 + one missing trap - eak!!!) It seemed that our furry friends were only nesting in our home for the purpose of multiplying, once we caught them all, it was over.
Looking back now, the entire ordeal does seem somewhat comical (but only because we all managed to avoid getting bitten), plus I now know some very interesting and disturbing facts about ticks that I never knew before. For example, did you know that ticks can survive for an entire year and a half without feeding? Fan-fucking-tickstic. I mean, really. REALLY!!! And did you know that ticks actually are arachnids? Nice. Heat seeking. Blood sucking spiders. Thanks Google! And my favorite fun tick fact of all...the female tick (which are the only ones that get "bloated" after a feeding) can lay up to 15,000 eggs in one sitting...can someone please tell me why in the hell this is necessary!?!?!?!?
Tick to ya later...
COMING SOON - actual video shot of the very brave "Lewis & Clark Tick" that decided to visit us while we were watching TV during the ordeal - he crawled across our 53 inch Sony DLP TV...on the other side of the screen. The damned thing was inside our TV...