The following is not for the faint of heart.

It's not for people like me whose skin starts crawling when even thinking about ticks, let alone looking at photos of them. I didn't sleep a wink last night after seeing these pictures, showing thousands of the engorged bloodsuckers feasting on moose.

I am sharing these disgusting pictures as a public service. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife posted them on its Facebook page in order to educate people about moose. The agency offers an explanation of why some of the official state animals have so many ticks on their bodies.

Here is their answer:

Winter tick eggs hatch in late summer or early fall, at which point the larvae climb vegetation, “questing” for an organism to be its host. As a passing moose brushes by one winter tick, thousands of others come with it using their interlocking limbs.

And with that detailed play-by-play, I am imagining a long, vampiric chain of the repulsive insects stretching across a field of trees. It will be another sleepless night.

Watch this video of moose biologist, Lee Kantar, explaining how winter ticks are threatening Maine's moose population, and what is being done about it.:

(Photo Credit: Volodymyr Burdiak/ThinkStock)