Spring Migration and Seed Ticks

March 3, 2012
For the last week or so I have been seeing some warblers I haven't seen for awhile and figured migration has begun.  I am really excited about what I might see and I'm hoping the Empids that were so difficult for me in the fall will come through and give me another crack at identifying them (Willow vs Alder).  There is also a lot of nesting and hatching going on.  On March 1, I decided to stick very close to home and bird the hard stand area and the old WWI battery site.
 I wanted a better photo of the Palm Warbler that has been hanging out in the hard stand area and I wanted to check on the nest building Fulvous-vented Euphonias near the batteries. I got a few shots of the Palm Warbler.
Yellow-rumped Warbler at Fort San Lorenzo on February 28.  I saw one here last year as well.

I saw no sign of the Euphonias, but I did run into something new (copied from my The Twitching Sailor blog):

It's been over twenty-four hours since I noticed the first speck crawling on my hand. Once it had my attention, I saw two more. WTH??? Then I saw another speck moving on my forearm. Then another, and another. I picked a few off and crushed them between two fingernails Lice? Too small, surely. God, they where so small. I googled 'barely visible mites or lice crawling on my skin', but got everything from delusional bites to spider mites--none were right. The problem was, I really couldn't see them very well. I picked off a couple, put them in a ziplock bag and got out a magnifying glass, but they were still hard to see. I continued to google. When I'm at the nav station on the computer, I always sit sideways in the seat and prop my feet up on the companionway steps. I happened to look over at my legs and saw several of the black spots moving on my legs. OK, forget googling. I was off to the chlorinated pool! I soaked in the pool for about 20 minutes then took a long hot shower and nearly went through a whole bar of soap.

I got back aboard and looked at the bugs in the ziplock again.  They looked like tiny ticks, and had six legs. I googled ticks and saw they had eight legs. Hmm. I went back to the mite sites--not mites. They looked like ticks to me, and they walked like ticks. If it looks like a tick and walks like a tick.... I googled 'tiny ticks' and got Seed Ticks. I clicked onto this blog:

As I was reading this really great blog post and highly entertaining comments about these things, I saw some on my arm. OMG! The pool soaking and the shower had no effect on them! I was really upset at this point and wanted to wake Gene up and tell him to do something. Instead, I got out the hand held mirror and a flashlight (the lighting from our 12 inch, 8 watt fluorescent lightbulb isn't the best) and started to pick off the ticks. I crushed and picked as I googled. The blog I was reading suggested getting tape and pulling them off with that. I tried, but it didn't seem to do the job on most of them, I had to pick them off. There were so many that I found it was best if I picked them off and stuck them to the tape rather than crushing them. I was so enthralled with the comments on this woman's blog that it took me awhile to search for a more scientific posting. When I finally did, the first thing I read was don't pick them off with your fingers, or crush them because the juices could end up being squeezed into your blood or into small cuts and you could get all kinds of diseases! Sh*t!

Everything you ever wanted to know about seed ticks but never asked because you had no idea they existed:

It's been over twenty-four hours and I'm waiting for the intense itching. I think I may have gotten all the blood sucking bastards because so far, I'm ok. I already had intense itching last week from something that bit me...maybe them and I never noticed them? I had scabs and bruises where I had scratched (clawed) myself.
If you don't want to go to the links I've posted (but they're good), here is a quick summation:
seed ticks are the larval stage of ticks and have SIX legs
they can cover you in the hundreds if you run into a 'tick bomb'
at this stage, a total body shampoo in Rid (or equivalent) lice shampoo will kill them
use tape or scrape them or tweeze them off

Ok, so paradise has a few bugs.

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