Many just think they have encountered an extremely rare blood drinker. Hirudin secreted by the leech prevents blood from clotting. They are increasingly used in surgery to promote recovery as well as in the treatment of horses and dogs.
Matalat lamphibians and slightly overgrown bogs, on the basis of which Hirudo medicinalis, or blood thistle, can be transmitted to the ankle in summer – albeit rarely.
The day is toasty and there are dozens of parades in the air. The weather is also favorable for the bloodsuckers of a small pond, as in the cold the blood suckers hardly move.
Are arrived with Katriina Könönen, a researcher at the Finnish Environment Institute, to look for bloodsuckers in the sand pits of Finland.
According to Könönen, the place is perfect. The small pond is full of vegetation. Methane bubbles rise from the bottom.
There is still enough oxygen, as the water is suitably warm and clear. Könönen has set off with a shotgun, a photography aquarium and slippers. Könönen hardly fears bloodsuckers.
“Often it goes so that a blood drinker finds me before I find a blood drinker. Swimwear is needed because I don’t want to bite between my toes. They can bite the calves. ”
As a wish is to find a blood sucker belonging to arthropods. The partially overgrown lamb is protected, as leeches are now found in less than twenty places in Finland.
Gathering the species for medical purposes and declining livestock farming have shrunk the stock. The habitats of the drunkard have also been endangered. They often thrive in forgotten-looking ponds that are easily left under construction.
Traces of deer and papayas pile up at the edge of the pond.
“Animals often turn to drink and wade to blood-drinking lambs. The circulatory accelerator secreted by solders relieves inflammation and the sucking of blood reduces swelling. ”
Könönen steps into the water with his slippers on his feet. The leech enjoys the same temperatures the most as a human, 21 degrees is appropriate.
Now the meter has 26 degrees. With this warmth, bloodthorns cool down under aquatic vegetation or rocks, at least if they have gotten well to eat.
Bloodthirsty can suck the blood of frogs, water lizards, fish and birds, but to reproduce they need more nutritious blood from the mammal.
They identify the catch by monitoring the movement and odors of the water. When leeches detect a wound oozing warm skin or blood, they soon swim to the spot.
“When swimming, the blood drinker is at its most beautiful, it moves smoothly, spinning in the water.”
Könönen is studying the species of shallow water areas and is now mapping the bloodsuckers of Southwest Finland. The organisms of the shepherds are endangered and little studied, and many places are disappearing.
Moments of fright have been experienced in leech mapping at this same old bathing site.
“The scream on the beach was reportedly quite significant when the surveyors waiting on the beach saw black drones on the beach bench approaching the surveyor wading in the water.”
Bathing and swimming with dogs on site is now prohibited. Nature enthusiasts visit the pond every year and there are many confirmed species observations. This summer we are the first official visitors to the pond.
Könönen grabs the bottom of the pond with his wounds. He is accustomed to noticing club heads, snake skin, frog spawning, dragonfly larvae, and mucous membranes and their jelly-like egg bags from the clump.
Then turpentine, drunken egg cells!
Brown spots cover the branch of the calyx leaf and the perforated leaf. There are small white spots inside them. These are not egg cells of the blood drinker, but of another species of drinker.
Leech eggs are probably already in the beach sand. On warm days, bloodsuckers rise to lay eggs on dry land in an egg cell resembling a sponge.
“The sand has to be just enough moist, but not too wet for the egg cell to survive underground,” says Könönen.
In late summer, perhaps dozens of little bloodsuckers crawling here are crawling here for water.
The tribe of drunks is vast. 16 species also live in Finland, but only the blood-sucking blood dragon has a nickname, the leech.
Few encounter leeches today, but there are many memories of them. It depends on the memorizer and his age whether the leech was an important medicine or a horror of a swimming spot.
Many children in their 50s remember what it was like to rail on sullen calves. If the worm is not removed properly, it will stretch on its suction cups and will not seem to come off at first.
As far back as the beginning of the last century, blood solders were commonly used in medicine. The scientific name of the blood thistle Hirudo medicinalis refers to the hirudin secreted by it. It prevents the blood from clotting. Worms also contain anti-inflammatory compounds in their saliva.
My grandmother’s father used to pick up a jar of leeches from the Carelia pharmacy along Mannerheimintie.
“Hirudin really helps people heal injuries as well. In laboratories, it has been found that bloodsuckers live on one decent blood meal for up to a year. In pharmacy use, worms had to be thrown out to vomit blood if they wanted to use them again, ”says Könönen.
In pharmacies, leeches were sold in little jars where they could not move or swim. The life of a drunkard in the service of medicine was tough.
In Finland, they are used, for example, in a horse farm established in Lohja. The service is also offered in some dog kennels. This is not a Finnish variety, but Hirudo verbana grown in Europe.
It has been speculated that blood thistles would not initially have spread completely naturally in Finland, but valuable arthropods would have spread to the north. Today, blood suckers can be bought from kennels in England and Central Europe, for example.
Bloodbaths used as part of hand and plastic and reconstruction surgery in, for example, Jorvi, Hus and Tays. Plastic surgeon Andrew Lindford says leeches are often a last resort.
“It’s often about hours of microsurgery requiring corrective surgery or finger replant surgery. The problem with the vein can arise after a long operation, sometimes at night. ”
Lindford uses the attachment of a detached finger as an example. The operation is performed with a microscope to bring even the smallest blood vessels together.
“If the vein doesn’t start to work, your thumb will swell from the blood that can’t get out. The risk is death. ”
A bloodsucker is in a hurry. The arthropod has been an aid to microsurgeons since the 1970s, when its hirudin was found to significantly promote microcirculation.
Lindford has worked in England and New Zealand, where blood solders have been used to prevent death after surgery.
“I’ve seen a leech placed on a poorly attached forehead tab after nose surgery and on blood-darkened nipples after breast reduction. I think leeches are used less today than before, but they could be used more in demanding surgical situations. ”
Huski’s bloodsuckers were last brought by taxi from Tampere to the kennel. Bringing blood-sucking drunkards to the ward always requires preparation and patient consent.
The patient receives an antibiotic against inflammation in case. Caregivers place and remove blood solders as smoothly as possible.
“It’s amazing how the size of a leech can even quadruple as it fills with blood. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’ll be saved since their last blood meal, ”Lindford apologizes.
Könönen last collided with a leech in Kemiönsaari. The long walk had rubbed a bleeding bruise under the sandals of the sandals. There was a slight pinch in the leg rusting in the swamp and Könönen noticed that a thick black worm was glued to the wound.
The chubby black soldering iron has three rows of sharp lime teeth under its front cup. They leave a bite mark resembling the Mersu mark on the skin.
“Removing a blood-sucking blood drinker from the skin is very easy when done calmly,” says Könönen.
The blood drinker has suction cups at both ends with which it moves like a meter worm. When the front cup is pushed with the nail tip, the soldering iron releases its grip. Hirudin-induced bleeding can cause problems:
“Others say the leak ended in half an hour, in some the leak has lasted for several hours. However, the amount of blood leaking is never high. ”
Today, horse soldering irons have also come to be called leeches, which causes confusion.
Many claim to have been sucked into a blood drinker, even though a dark horse drinker or a representative of another species of drinker may have hung in the skin. They have small teeth that cannot reach the skin.
“So it’s not been a bloodthirsty predator, but a terrified drinker.”
Such now rises from Könönen’s wounds. The cross-striped ten-centimeter drinker has eight eyes. It tries to meander away.
“It doesn’t feel slimy at all, it’s smooth.”
The species is common in Finland Erpobdella octoculata, but it does not have a Finnish name.
The blood dragon has golden orange and olive green longitudinal stripes on the back, other worms have dark cross stripes or are quite monochromatic.
“The most beautiful colors are on the bloodsucker. It is the largest of Finland’s soldering irons, they can grow up to more than 15 centimeters. ”
The afternoon is long, but no bloodbaths are visible. Have they disappeared from this pond too?
According to Könönen, the silence of the pond can tell a lot. There is an emergency in small aquatic environments, there is too little living space.
“In addition to blood beetles, many species of beetles, cormorants and reptiles also suffer as habitats decline.”
Next during the week, Könönen broadcasts a video of a chubby blood drinker moving back and forth in a shooting aquarium with suction cups.
“On the beach in Pulas, half an hour with the wound. When I finally looked at the water, an interested bloodsucker had appeared on the scene. I took it for a moment to photograph and when I was hands in the water letting it go, there was another one in my hand right away. ”