The Washington Times - July 11, 2008, 01:16AM

By P. Jeffrey Black


We have all heard about snakes on planes.  And more recently the infestation of mice and rats on planes. But have you heard about the eight-legged carnivorous blood-sucking arachnids on planes?

Compliments of United Airlines, an entire plane load of passengers were treated to such critters.  As reported by the Associated Press this week, flight 1178 to Denver was delayed after a passenger approached a flight attendant and reported that she found a tick — in economy class.

Personally, if I had found a tick in economy class, I would have kept it to myself for fear of being charged an additional tick-et fee.

(Oh come on, you saw that one coming a mile away!)

But what I found most humorous, was that United Airlines decided that before the plane could be cleared to fly again, it had to be cleaned of all ticks.  This of course brought an image to mind of cleaners boarding the aircraft with magnifying glasses in one hand and tweezers in the other.

So just how do you de-tick an airplane? 

According to my extensive in-depth research, you would use a gas-propelled aerosol insecticide-laden canister –– a bug bomb –– which just the mention of this would likely cause a few aneurisms within TSA management, and result in a few terminals being locked down and evacuated.  So that’s not an option.

The other option is to just come up with a random number of ticks that would need to be found, which would forcibly ground the aircraft and put it out of service, like say –– four ticks or more. 

The United Airlines spokesperson stated that only three ticks were subsequently found on the aircraft. 

Ladies and gentleman, we are cleared for takeoff!

Several other reports have now mentioned “deer ticks” as the possible eight-legged culprits that were found on this airplane. Well, being a city boy who now lives in the high desert, I wouldn’t know what a deer tick looked like –– if one were to bite me on the butt. 

So I called my trust-worthy and omniscient colleague Mr. Denning, who lives in the mid-west, and I asked him about these so-called deer ticks.  At one point in our conversation, I made the mistake of asking him why they are in fact called “deer” ticks.  Without hesitation, he replied, “Because their antennae resemble tiny little antlers.”

“Really?” I said.

He’s lucky I’m not easily ticked off.