Monday, November 12, 2012


Note: This article was first published in the November 2010 issue of Animal Scene magazine.

When we rented a big house, we had decided not to have a dog for at least one year. The reason? There were ticks everywhere, seemingly the whole house was infested.

Before moving in, of course, we had to fumigate the place. Soap and water wouldn’t do so I consulted a veterinary student. A potent insecticide was recommended. I found it quite expensive for the medium bottle costs 200 pesos.

After mixing half of the bottle contents in half a drum of water, I sprayed the walls and floors. In a few minutes, my hand got numb with the mechanical motion of spraying so I used the dip and splashed the mixture on the area.

When the minor repairs were done, we held a small celebration with friends. But on that very first night, it was disgusting to see some ticks on the floor of the living room.

The terrace entrance where the ticks were lurking

As per my sleuthing, the ticks were coming from the gaps between the brick adornment of the exterior. They enter the house through the gap in the window and straight to the ceiling.

Once up there, the pest have the power to drop itself on the desired spot. So that’s how intelligent those small creatures are. To think that they were able to survive the annihilation process, they look like immortals to me.

The weekly fumigation lasted for months and several thousand pesos for the pesticides. That’s not counting the complaints of neighbors on the strong smell of the spray. But it was well worth it.

The ticks were gone before we had paid our 6th month rental. That means we could have a dog. The house owner said that a guard dog would be ideal because there were many drug users in the nearby squatter area.

Nearly a year of renting the house, we acquired Jedi, a native puppy with a nice thick coat. I had to give it a good bath and a thorough cleanup to eradicate the fleas and a couple of ticks on her ears.

Ninang with Jedi, inspecting the road for ticks

On Jedi’s second day, there was the attack of ticks. Upon closer look, there were about 10 ticks on the ceiling, a few on the wall but none on the exterior wall where it used to nest. They were actually coming from the backyard.

That was a neat lesson. It’s not only the concrete but the soil and the rocks are good hiding places of ticks too. At least wood proved to be not so hospitable to them.

Another cleanup was in order. The big backyard and the front yard consumed more than 3 bottles of pesticides in one month. For the second time, I emitted a sigh of relief.

When we acquired our own house, Jedi was 4 years old and free from any parasite. Unfortunately, our new home had tick nests in the backyard and front yard. In fairness, the interior of the concrete house was clean.

With my past experience with insecticides, not much effort was needed to cleanse the yards. After a week of the chore, our new home was immaculately clean and free of pests.

Ninang carrying Epoy while Tisoy is checking the gate

Years passed and we thought we would be living happily ever after. We now have Epoy, the 7-year old pekingese and Tisoy, the 3-year old Aspin, after Jedi had passed away.

Without warning, both our dogs were having ticks, a few at first but later on we were finding several in both of them. Again, I had to summon the Sherlock Holmes inside of me to pinpoint the source.

The ticks were parading to our gate, with gaps of about a meter like marching soldiers. They were coming from the left and also from the right directions. I couldn’t help but feel confused.

Not only the road itself was infested but both gutters were also teeming with moving black dots. Some ticks even had the temerity to convert the blades of grass into a hammock.

The neighborly elders opined that those ticks were actually hibernating in the vacant lots because there are plenty of Askals here. The sleeping parasites were wakened, according to them, by the big flood of Ondoy.

And since we had learned that pesticide is unhealthy, we resorted to dishwashing soap. We mixed a bottle of the cleansing liquid with half a drum of water. Using a lagadera, we were like gardeners watering the street, at least more than half of it.

After a few days, we also treated the sidewalks at least up to 3 houses from our home. The target areas should be thoroughly wet if not soaking of our mixture. That’s quite a job so I hired 2 people to help us irrigate the area.

After a one week battle with the ticks, the road was finally free of pests

The battle with the ticks lasted for more than a week. We had consumed about 10 bottles of dishwashing soap. Quite expensive but it was well worth it because the street exuded a hygienic scent.

The tick attack cannot just be ignored if you consider the casualty. One dog perished due to severe infestation. The owner said that their Aspin which was tied near the gate, was coated by ticks and probably had lost a lot of blood to the parasites.

It may be an isolated case but the vet said that excessive tick bites could really kill a dog. Another danger posed by ticks is the epidemic that they may bring. They are bloodsuckers so they are potential carriers of diseases.

Like the majority of Metro Manilans, we are also hoping that there wouldn’t be another Ondoy. No more destructive flood. No more tick attacks.


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