Goodness Gracious…. *


The Kangaroo Tick (Amblyomma triguttatum)

The Australian bush is a dangerous place for the intrepid orchid hunter. Poisonous snakes and spiders are the least of your worry. Nope the thing to worry about is the Kangaroo tick. Size is not an indication of dangerousness. At 4mm in length one of these horrid little beasties can cause a lot of pain and suffering. A lot! When we were away on our little jaunt to Nannup the other week unknowingly I picked up a couple of hitchhikers. Shortly after getting home they began to make their presence felt – quite literally. I woke up to find that my love spuds felt like they had been trapped in a vice and then set on fire. Very quickly it felt like I was walking around with a space hopper stuffed in me jocks.

My happy sack now resemble a space hopper thanks to kangaroo ticks.

Not for nothing are ticks referred to as “the dirty needles of the bush“. Each tick is like a little syringe loaded with all sorts of nasty toxic bacteria and unfortunately the process of removing them can inject even more of that horribleness into your bloodstream. Now after a few days of antibiotics and ibuprofen things are starting to improve. So if you are an orchid hunter let this be a salutary warning and please take precautions.

Funnily the word orchid  comes from the Ancient Greek ὄρχις (órkhis), literally meaning “testicle”, because of the shape of the twin tubers in some species of Orchis. In England between the 11th and 15th century orchids were called bollockwort with bollock meaning testicle and wort meaning plant. In medical lingo inflammation of the testicles is orchitis.

The tuber of the Red Beak Orchid (Pyrorchis nigricans) showing its testicular shape. Photo by Ken Macintyre 2010.

Here are some recent  pics from the suffering artist.


Lemon Scented Sun Orchid by Paul Amyes on
Lemon Scented Sun Orchid, Thelymitra antennifera, also known as the vanilla orchid. Wambyn, Western Australia.


Wandoo Beard Orchid by Paul Amyes on
Wandoo Beard Orchid, Calochilus stramenicola. Wambyn, Western Australia.


Custard Orchid by Paul Amyes on
Custard Orchid, Thelymitra villosa. Wambyn, Western Australia


*  Today’s song reference seemed very appropriate. It is of course Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire”