The Bugs of Summer

Outside of Stockholm lies a wonderful archipelago – 1000s of rocky Islands, of various sizes, with soaring pine and birch trees and tiny little summer houses tucked away. The Swedes know how to preserve a natural area, and this is a great example – they even have composting toilets as standard, and humping buckets of water to and from wells is an everyday and much-looked-forward-to activity.

And then we have the ticks. The unassuming little Ixodes ricinus is the rogue in question, and can infect you with the unpleasant Lyme disease or the altogether more unpleasant, and incurable, TBE (Tick-borne encephalitis). These little blood-sucking buggers hide in trees and grass and latch onto anything passing which might be a deer (although their standards of “what might be a deer” are generally fairly shabby).

So after a day in the archipelago there is a certain ritual to follow. You must remove your clothing and get a loved one to scan every square centimetre of your body, flaps and all. Any ticks discovered must be removed carefully, by plucking them off in one piece with a tweezers. Care must be taken to not press the tick’s juices back into the host’s body, along with any malevolent and possibly lethal germs.

I was out on the islands last week for just one day and picked up about 8 of the bastards; M got 13; and H8 got about 10. And removal is not the end of them–they show up even days later, crawling out of shoes or unwashed underwear, like Jehovah’s Witnesses on a wet Sunday morning.

And when I think about it, this tick-picking ritual is probably how Sweden got its over-sexed reputation – all the couples in their summer houses of an evening, stark naked and carefully picking through every nook and cranny of each other’s bodies.

And if you are single and have nobody to search you, why then you can always call in the cute babe from the cottage across the way to help out. And if one thing leads to another, and floppy bits turn out to be not so floppy any more, just remember that you are doing your bit in upholding that ancient Swedish tradition – the après-tick.

You can always tell I have no idea how to wrap things up when I fall back on the “porn movie” ending. Ah well…

/ paddy


13 thoughts on “The Bugs of Summer

  1. Sounds like a perfectly appropriate ending to me.

    Cute pets you’ve got there in Sweden, Paddy.

    Great post. I love this blog. It always makes me smile (and sometimes itch).

  2. Last summer I went geocaching in some woods near Schleswig in northern Germany. Afterwards I was very glad to have been wearing tight briefs, not boxer shorts. 21 ticks had crawled up my legs to the lower edge of the briefs, given up their quest and attached themselves. Guess where they would have lodged if they could have crawled inside my undies…

  3. Bull´s Eye. That´s swedish summer in a nut shell. Here in the north of Skåne tics can be found in the middle of a mild winter, therefor we uphold the tic-picking procedur all year round. Last week I found a nasty little one close to my private parts, not fun at all. When I asked my better half to help me pick it he answered: “After the game, you have to wait 30 minutes.” 30 minutes is a long t ime when you carry a terror-tic that close!

    He was just joking but at that time I was not in the mood for jokes :-)

  4. earthpal: Thanks!

    Alex: Oh right, and the bears and poisonous snakes over there are any better? ;-)

    Martin: Boxer shorts are evil, I could have told you that.

    Blackout: Ticks in the middle of winter is more that I could bear…

  5. Lyme Disease Center: And perhaps you could repeat the point once more? Or – I know – tell me only the good things you remember about your mother.

  6. […] over far enough) but I have quite a lot to say on the subject of my current country of residence. About the insects that might kill you, for example. Or about Swedish temporal cycles. And possibly my favourite, how Swedes are obsessed […]

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