If Ticks could Talk Part Five (my name is Luna)

Written by Jenny O’Dea, Ireland © November 2010

My name is Luna & this is part five of my story. I began to open my eyes & noticed a slight chill in the air. All around was golden & yet the trees were bare. Dead, crunchy leaves lay on the ground. Animals trotted by in a hurry, with puffs of smoke billowing through the air. “Where am I”, I thought to myself? “Why is everything so different?”

I tried to remember my last conversation. That’s right, I saw this gorgeous looking stealth like figure, she said her name was Fantaz & that one day when I moulted, I would look like her. I looked down & felt along my legs. “Hold on” I thought, “before I had six, and now I have eight.” My friend Dips told me that babies (larva ticks he called them) have only six legs, so I must be growing up, at last. That’s so cool, now my new adventure can begin!

I looked around me & felt in awe of the beauty of my surroundings– the ground was shiny & looked as though it glistened. Insects & ticks were scurrying around under the leaves & animals would rush by to get into the warmth of their dens. “Hey, why is it so different?” I asked a passing male. Well Luna, you rested for several months after your last blood meal. You have now transformed into a nymph & will soon be ready to start searching for your next host. The seasons have changed Luna. We have started to get ready for Winter to begin. The ground is frosty. To keep safe & warm we need to hide among leaves or find a nice furry animal to feed on.

“Ah yes”, remembered Luna – “Fantaz said to me that I needed to rest & when I awaken I would need to aim higher in my questing. There I will find a larger animal to feed from & continue my quest. But what is my quest?” I thought to myself aloud.

“Well Luna”, said the passing male, “your quest is to become an adult where you can breed & pass on life to your new family. But act safely dear one, there are many perils in the tick world, birds may eat you & you must compete for a blood meal amongst other hungry ticks. Much work & practice must be done. My advice to you is to lie low & once a warm day arrives, when the sun shines low in the sky & the frost begins to thaw, the animals will be more active. Then you can climb higher & latch onto a warm blooded host as it brushes past. Good luck Luna, good luck!”

The male tick scampered away leaving me all on my own. “I feel so lonely in this world”, I thought to myself. But soon I could become a mum, & that would make me so proud. Meanwhile I MUST get used to my eight legs – they do take some getting used to!

Luna is now a nymph tick about 1.5 mm in size. She can survive a while before her next feed & the cold snap will slow her down but not kill her. She will soon be on her way to the next part of her quest…