Monday, October 13, 2008

A Mission at Midnight

Each day we are split into 2 groups and each group walks along a1 out of 6 transects which can cover all different types of terrain such as a steep hill, bamboo forest, etc. At the end of the day we are able to have some free time which can include walking to a waterfall, visiting a temple, or or visiting an internet cafe. Last night JF, the french canadian pharmacist, decided that he wanted to set up a moth trap in the abandoned shell of a building perched on the side of a cliff face overlooking a valley. An insect ensthusiast with a particular interest in moths and beetles, JF hoped to obtain specimans for his personal collection. The best time to see these were apparently at around midnight so a few of us decided to check it out.

To prepare for this mission I realised that I would have to employ every defense possible as I was told that the night time brings out a huge array of creepy crawlies that entomologists love including venemous centipedes up to 12 inches long, spiders, snakes and the dread LEECHES that I had been obsessing over, over the past few weeks leading up to the expedition.

I put on my borrowed knee high gaiters (thanks Liz!), two pairs of socks, trousers and poured some Japanese anti-leech agent on my shoes from a fellow Earthwatch team member Hiroshi. I was prepared as I would ever be. However JF's grand plans were foiled by the local police after the tenant of the apparently "abandoned" building complained, and despite having the appropriate paperwork, decided it wasn't worth ruffling the local polices feathers.

All dressed up and no where to go we decided to go for a walk along Transect 4 at night time to see what the night would bring us anyway. We ended up seeing giant snails, frogs, beetles and all sorts of other goodies but the highlight was my first encounter with a leech.

Along the side of the path in the soft dirt there were many, many leeches but they were extremely sensitive to the light. As soon as you shone your torch on them you saw them zip away into the soil. I had no idea these buggers could move so fast! Scarily fast! They looked like long thin slugs (apparently they swell up to twice the size when they feed!!) with a head that was basically a huge sucker with hooks on it to grab unwary passers by.

1 comment:

i like you said...

wow, you're first encounter with leeches! yuck! So, how long more are you doing research and where are you off to next?xx
ps. i'm moving into the converted warehouse i showed u in fitzroy!!!! :D