They’re both terrible, but what if you had to pick which is worse? What if you had to defend it?
We all hate mosquitos and ticks for our own reasons. Some of us have had it worse than others. Maybe you were affected by the Zika virus. Maybe you found found a wood tick in a place you’d rather not mention. Or maybe you had to deal with Lyme Disease, which can be it’s own kind of nightmare.
In this Versus article Clint and Matt were tasked with mosquitos vs ticks. Matt chose mosquitoes and Clint chose ticks. Who was victorious? You be the judge…
Matt: Regarding possible outdoor threats, mosquitoes are pretty innocuous. At 2.5 milligrams, they are almost small enough to forget about entirely. Almost. Despite their size, have you ever actually looked at one up close? They are straight out of an Alien vs. Predator movie. Two compound eyes that are filled with tiny lenses to detect the slightest movement. The proboscis, a long serrated mouthpart used to pierce your skin and suck out blood. That ominous buzzing sound as they approach … It’s like a scene from a horror movie.
Clint: Ok, I’ll admit that a run-of-the-mill tick doesn’t look that menacing. Their little pincher mouth is pretty hideous if you take a closer look, I can deal with that. But – compare a well-fed mosquito to a well-fed tick? The tick is 100 times more disgusting. It’s like a textbook image for gluttony. They suck so much blood that their feet don’t even touch the ground anymore! I’m getting nauseous just thinking about it.
Matt: Some outdoorsmen hate the rain or cold. Me, I’ll take ANY weather condition over being relentlessly harassed by mosquitoes. This maligned bug has been around for millions of years. In that time, these things have annoyed everything from dinosaurs to humans. Mosquitoes use a variety of techniques to detect prey, in this case, you, including movement, carbon dioxide, and body heat; basically everything that you do to survive. Your existence attracts mosquitoes. Sad, but true.
Clint: You’d be right to think that ticks were exposed to gamma rays at some point. Deer ticks can survive after being submerged in water for three weeks, and you can even freeze them and they’ll come back to life. The fact that they just won’t die is troubling, but I don’t think it makes them a worse nuisance than mosquitos. You can’t be annoyed if you don’t even know how many are crawling on you.
Matt: Good luck fending off these little bloodsuckers. The best you can hope for is to beat them back with a healthy amount of DEET and protective clothing. It doesn’t seem to matter if you are deep in the woods or in your backyard; mosquitoes seem to be completely unavoidable certain times of the year. Depending on your location, mosquitos can severely disrupt outdoor activities. Here in Minnesota, we have a running joke that the state bird is the mosquito … We laugh to keep from crying.
Clint: Here’s the thing with these little jerks – you don’t know if you’re avoiding them or not. This is why the sometimes tolerated, sometimes hated “tick check” exists. You can load up with DEET and permethrin soaked clothing for a day in the woods, get home, and find two behind your ear. I hate how they can move slow enough to avoid detection. They can literally be crawling up your back to eat your brain and you have no idea.
Matt: Luckily for us in the United States, we have a relatively small risk of getting sick from mosquito bites. You’ve probably heard about the Zika Virus, but statistically speaking, depending where you are located in the country, you have a much, much greater chance of getting struck by lightning than contracting the virus. Unfortunately in other areas of the world, it is estimated that between 1-2 million people die each year from malaria, and a single malarial mosquito can infect more than 100 people.
Clint: Two words: Lyme disease. It’s an awful, silent, debilitating disease that can take years to even diagnose. It can present itself in a wide variety of symptoms that will worsen until you are literally unable to care for yourself anymore. Late stage Lyme Disease is as horrifying and painful as almost anything else you can contract – honestly.
Ok – they both suck (pun intended), so what’s a camper to do?
Don’t: Stop going into the woods. The benefits are far too great, and there are ways to protect yourself.
Do: Use DEET, and treat your clothing with permethrin. And we don’t care if you hate it and think that it’s creepy – ALWAYS do a tick check. ALWAYS. It only takes a second, and it can save you from something that can literally spin your life out of control. Thanks for reading. Now put your phone down and go for a walk.