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Today is September 16, 2021

Outdoors

Whompas cats and other pests

By Tony Kinton

Whompas cats and other pests

Whompas Cats were an ever-present danger while growing up country. “Down by the creek. Y’all stay out of there.” The admonition was powerful and initially productive, but its impact waned. No one had ever encountered a Whompas Cat. Juvenile reasoning eventually concluded that this was a scheme hatched to keep wandering young’uns in check. We gradually drifted closer and closer to the creek, fishing and squirrel hunting and distinguishing the squeal of wood ducks from that of the prophesied feline.

Odds are high that no wanderer across the Magnolia State will ever encounter the dastardly Whompas Cat. However, there are a host of other evil doers that are best avoided. And they are in abundance.

Snakes get the nod as particularly threatening, and there is a modicum of validity in that. Rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths are about, and they can be not only frightening but a solid cause for caution. But those three aside, there is little to fear. Most others are harmless — apart from generating cardiac arrest. Properly identified, they deserve a “Howdy” and “Thank you” for their role in consuming mice and rats and other such pestilences.

But before you rest comfortably in the knowledge that very few things are out to get you and that you are not required to avoid all outdoor exploration, be aware that there are two verifiable nasties that can easily deal grief. These are none other than mosquitoes and ticks.

The former seek you out, their proboscis jabbing a tiny hole in skin that instigates an almost immediate itch. That’s unpleasant, but the residual can be a major problem. While enjoying your blood, mosquitoes can inject all sorts of squirmy beings into your body. These can be truly harmful.

What to do? There are methods to help mitigate their bites. Long sleeves, full-length pants, high-top socks, sturdy shoes or boots. Repellents also help, though some users experience skin irritation. And some repellents can rumple the finish of sporting gear. Those little repellent units that employ a scent wafer and small butane cartridge work wonderfully well and are worth the price of admission.

Ticks? Oh my. Diseases they carry are many. Avoid knee-high grass and brushy areas. Pine straw and leaves, too. The same regimen regarding mosquitoes applies, but tuck pants cuffs into long socks. And wear light-colored clothes for the simple reason they make a crawling tick easier to see. There are products that work well for treating clothing — never on the skin — available from various stores, but read carefully the instructions and follow them thoroughly.

One last bit of advice. Research and learn tick removal. Check your entire body after being outside. And inspect children closely, particularly their heads where ticks can be difficult to locate in hair. And by all means, watch out for Whompas Cats!

 

Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. He lives in Carthage and is a Central Electric member. Visit www.tonykinton.com for more information.

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