If Ticks could Talk Part Seven (my name is Luna)
Written by Jenny O’Dea, Ireland © Nov 2011
“I’m Still Standing,
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!”
My name is Luna & this is part seven of my story. My new host is sopping wet through. We’d both been for a swim, except in my case I hadn’t really planned to be there, I fell in while looking for a new host! My luck turned & a passing animal came into the water to play & now here I am, sitting precariously underneath his soggy collar. Phew, that was a chance visit!
Quite a fast ride this new beast is, with yellowy fur & golden ears. He gallops this way & that, chasing sticks & rushing up to his owner at ferocious speed. I knew that if I didn’t have little hooked legs I’d be a gonna, as I hadn’t yet had chance to stick my mouth parts into his warm, cozy flesh.
My friend Dips said the best way was to wait for the host to be quiet & then crawl around to find a warm spot to feed, ears were a firm favourite. I hid under the collar for now just to hold on; those floppy ears flapping in the wind – ‘yum, my next meal’, I thought to myself. My food of choice is blood, it keeps me alive, helps me to grow into my next life stage & stops me from dehydrating – a three for one deal!
My host took a long time to become tired & I was weary too, with clinging on for dear life. Eventually my new host & his 2 legged friend went into a large box. I would often look over at the large box wondering what it was, maybe this was where the 2 legged people live? ‘Why don’t they live in the trees & grass like we do?’ I thought to myself. Then I realized the answer. Inside was so warm, a crackling noise was coming from one side of the wall & my doggy friend I was clinging onto promptly sat down in front of it. Red & orange flames came out of a wooden pile. The dog settled in for a snooze & I was eager for my work to begin.
Using a cutting tool (hypostome) I began to cut my way into the fleshy ear. It was still a bit wet from our adventure in the pond! As I buried into the flesh I could feel the blood collecting in a nice pool. My anti-coagulant chemicals ensured the blood would keep flowing, so I knew I had all the time in the world. My main task right now was to get settled & anchored in while the host was sleeping.
As I clung on I was able to make a substance to help me glue my head into place & folded back my palps to help me anchor onto the spot. I chose a place under the ear to get more blood & stay safe from anyone seeing me. ‘Right that’s me set’, I thought to myself. ‘Think I need a rest myself.’
I don’t know how long it was but the dog started to stir & get restless. He kept pacing up & down by a shiny bowl. ‘What’s that?’ I thought, ‘it’s empty, why stare into an empty bowl? These animals are so weird!’
So Luna finally gets her just reward. With this feed she can make into adulthood. She knows that her chances of mating, & laying eggs is dependent on her ability to feed.
With each meal she is able to moult & move onto the next life stage. But will she complete her meal or will the dog’s owner find her? Does he have the tweezers ready? Stayed tuned to find out more!