I know the middle of December isn’t the best time to share camping stories, but I say why the hell not? A few times a year my friends and I drove up to the Wisconsin Woods, usually in April and October. We liked to do it old school style hanging out next to the fire all night drinking and eating crap food and sleeping on the ground (sorry no cot/airbed cheaters allowed!). Anyway, I haven’t been back since I returned home with ticks living inside my hair. A traumatizing experience I will not soon forget. So don’t count on me visiting the World’s Largest Tick Collection anytime soon. It is actually owned and curated by the Smithsonian Institution, with many of its specimens dating back to the late 1800s, but is housed at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro as part of the Institute of Arthropodology and Parasitology.
With over 1 million ticks of every size and color, the official U.S. National Tick Collection as it is called has rows and rows of drawers and cabinets, each packed with carefully labeled bottles. There is a machine that freeze dries the ticks, and some are even coated with gold, which helps for better viewing under the electron microscopes. About 850 distinct species of tick exist across the globe. I bet you didn’t know that. Or probably didn’t know you’d be reading so much about them today. Well, I’m not done. Why should anyone care about the world’s most complete tick collection? Because ticks spread diseases (Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are notable examples) and scientists want to better understand how these creatures live and co-evolve with their hosts. Shit’s important yo. And if you didn’t think arachnid lovers have a sense of humor, the “museum” is decorated with tick paintings, tick mosaics and stained glass tick windows. Well, if you don’t have the creepy-crawlies after reading this post, then go check this place out. It’s open to the public every Wednesday and by appointment.