If Ticks Could Talk Part Two (my name is Luna)

Written by Jenny O’Dea, Ireland © July 2009

This is part two of my story. I remember Dips telling me that I needed to practice my ‘questing’ position which will help me to latch onto my host. I think what I’ll do is watch others, I just keeping falling off! It was very hot the last few days and I got exhausted in the sun, so I’ve been keeping cover under a bit of bracken. Soon I really must try and get some food. Maybe I was right to hide in the shade – it keeps me away from predators and builds up my strength. Now I really must get out into the world and have a nice feast. Where is my brother Dips, I thought? I felt SO scared. Dips WHERE are you?

I was having a nice snooze when there was a thud right behind me. “Hey Luna”, a voice called out. “Oh Dips, where have you been, I’ve been so lost and lonely?” Dips explained that as he’s older than me he has already gone off to start feeding. He is now maturing into an adult and will soon be ready to start mating. I was really glad to see him again. We sat together on a patch of grass, under the shade of a tree and talked until the sun went down. He thinks I am ready now to learn about my brothers and sisters. Dips explained that my siblings would have scattered in many directions. At such a young age they can be eaten by many predators foraging in the ground; birds, ants, rodents, that sort of thing. Many baby ticks dehydrate in the sun – ticks should stay in tall grass and patches of leaves to keep moist, he told me. They should only perch on the edge of grasses when ready to find a host to feed on or to practice questing. My time has come for that first great leap I thought – I’m starving. I told him that I kept falling off and climbing and falling off again and he laughed at me. “That’s fine, practice makes perfect. Now you can move forward and see the world.”

The next day, feeling stronger and more resolute, I felt very brave and crawled to the end of some grass. I detected a warm animal coming close by – I could smell the carbon dioxide. I clambered up the blade of grass and as I stood a mouse brushed straight past me. In my hunger I scrambled onto the mouse’s back with great bravado and yelled back to Dips, “I made it, wish me luck, good friend.”

“Good luck Luna!” Dips sat down on a branch, looking exhausted from his previous feed. My adventure was about to begin, it seemed strange moving away from my little spot by the tree, a stone wall and some grass. Where I was going was at the whim of the mouse! Dips told me that many larvae ticks will die from dehydration, starvation or predators, I needed to act fast. I heard a chorus of voices yell, “quick, this way.” I scrambled up to the top of the mouse’s head and settled in with some other ticks in a warm snug place – ahh bliss I thought, my journey has finally begun!

I started to hum to myself: “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you are never gonna keep me down…….!”