zoology biology benno meyer rochow science blog blood leech leeches

Blood Suckers

The good, the bad, and the evil

On an expedition to the Onabasulu cannibals of the Southern Highlands in the mountainous interior of Papua New Guinea near Mount Bosavi with my companion Tom Ernst, at that time a PhD-student and later university professor in the USA, we were constantly pestered, beleaguered one can almost say, by blood-sucking terrestrial leeches. They were sitting on slippery stones, clinging to wet foliage, attached to any vantage point on logs or trees that allowed them to wave their menacing front ends around in circles, ready to leech on to their victim as soon as they sensed our approach. These annelid animals are so adept at taking meals from the occasional passers-by that in spite of our utmost vigil, we once counted 42 individual bloodsuckers all simultaneously taking blood meals from Tom’s covered legs. —>