Vampires in the leaf litter

There’s trauma in this leaf litter – can you see it?!

Dangerous leaf litter. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

A downside to fieldwork in Australia is the number of things that will bite, impale, or otherwise injure.

A leech at attention, waiting for a meal to pass by. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Some of my unwanted Australian ‘friends’, that had been making themselves at home under my socks and long pants. Note the size difference between these post-feast leeches and the hungry one in the picture above. (No comments on my muscular legs please.) Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

We had several wet days when the leeches were out in force. At one site, half of our group suffered a leech in the eye – unpleasant!

For me, this was a somewhat traumatic introduction to these creatures. In New Zealand leeches do not make a habit of feeding on humans (generally preferring stream invertebrates instead). Biting ticks were another part of the fauna that made our close acquaintance.

A harmless (from our perspective) python. However, a deadly taipan had slithered across the track as we drove into the site. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

The impressively armed leaf of what we believe is a Solanum (relative of tomato, potato, and poroporo). Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Spikes on the stems of rattan palms. These palms also had fine, hanging trendils, which were easy to walk into because they were hard to see, but difficult to subsequently escape because they had barbed spikes. Photos by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

A Dendrocnide stinger tree. This nettle-relative packs a particularly nasty poisonous punch if you have the misfortune to touch any part of it (including the trunk!). Not as ferocious-looking as our tree nettle, but I’m reliably informed the sting is worse. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

An echidna. A monotreme mammal like the platypus. Cute but spiky. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

No Responses

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)