Feb 21, 2011

Bloody Hell! : Limatik Encounters

Most of the mountains near Metro Manila, I have already scaled. One of the few notable exceptions is Mt. Makiling in Laguna. Not so many years ago, this peak has been one of the most popular due to closure. Now that it is open to climbers, it retains its popularity due to the diversity of flora and fauna, the trail difficulty… and the notorious limatiks.

To those who haven’t met or don’t know what a limatik is, let me give you a brief description to these little monsters:

Limatik is a small and short worm-like creature that has the attributes of a leech. They have suction on both ends… one suction used to balance itself while crawling, and the other end is used to feed itself with human or animal blood.

tiger limatik of Mt. Isarog (Patag trail)

Those little vampires go by aliases like tiger limatiks, limatok, and alimatok. I’ve heard from someone that alimatoks were different, being larger in size and more blood-hungry….and it resides mostly in Panay mountains including Mt. Madjaas and Baluy Gamay and Daku.

Mt. Isarog (Panicuason trail): fierce limatik @ Nabuntulan Falls


How do they feed on human/animals?
Limatik has sensory receptors that can detect presence of warm-blooded mammals. Sometimes they can detect presence via movement, or via carbon dioxide exhalation (Ok I admit I sometimes hold my breath, hahahaha). Once they have awoken, they will follow the movement or the CO2 source.

Pantingan Peak: vegetarian limatik

There are kinds that can move briskly and become very aggressive once a target was found. Some are just laid back, frighteningly slithering and crawling on every part of one’s body. It all ends to same result if not intercepted…them feeding on your blood.

Limatiks in general will attach its suction thing (read: bite) upon contact with your soft and supple skin. But some choosy ones will travel far and beyond for that soft tissue spot…which usually the case is your eyes. I grew tolerance with limatik bites over time, but no…. not my eyes please!

Mt. Banahaw: kinutsilyong limatik

Upon attaching themselves in their host of choice, they take that bite off you and inject some serum/saliva which acts as anesthetics, and will prevent blood coagulation/clotting as they suck in your blood to their satisfaction. Once they felt full, they normally detach themselves from host and digest your blood (that is if they can actually digest it) for weeks before feeding again.

Mt. Talomo: two fat limatik sharing a bite on my foot

How to keep them away
Once the limatiks have sensed the presence of warm-blooded mammals, it is almost hard to keep them at bay.  But there were proven methods to make them stay away:

1. Alcohol – spraying and spritzing them with alcohol will loosen their grip on you, and will daze them for a while. This might not kill them but it will definitely buy you some time to pinch them away and run. I haven’t experimented yet on if a tipsy person reeking with alcohol is less prone to limatik attacks than sober ones.

2. Salt – this definitely kills them, just like the case with worms. I have tried on sprinkling salt, and the poor one writhed in pain and vomited all the blood as he is slowly having seizures. Note: don’t put salt on them while they are still attached to your skin.

Newsflash: Limatik natagpuan naliligo sa sariling dugo (Ehem dugo ko yan!)


3. Detergents – powdered soaps works wonders according to a friend. Rub yourself with detergents before a climb when you expect limatik much.

4. Tobacco – I have read that tobacco smoke are an abomination to these creatures. I haven’t tried it myself yet.

5. Clothing – you should wear clothes that will cover up your skin. Also, wearing brightly colored clothes helps, you can easily spot dark crawling creatures in a light colored shirt. Also wear armguards and gaiters. A friend’s strategy is not wearing a shirt at all. Also, you could wear high socks and putting rubber bands at the top of it. One downside of wearing socks is you will not see how many limatiks are already happily feeding on your feet. For girls, wearing cycling shorts or a tights is highly advisable. I have yet to study limatik’s preference of clothes’ color. Lols.

6. Limatik check – having a buddy you could do a limatik check is a plus. With me, every now and then I ask my buddy if there are any limatiks on me, and I will check him for limatiks too. This should not be done every now and then as this will slacken the pacing. 


Notes on limatik bites:

1.  The anti-coagulant from their bite will take its effect on you for at least half an hour, normally. This will result in bloody hell, in which blood continually gushes out of your wounds.

Mt. Talomo: worst multiple bites ever
 
2.  People who are prone to allergies tend to have longer times to recover. I know a friend who still has fresh wounds after a year, and a climber I know has to take tetanus shots to curb the itchiness.

3. The more direct the bites to your skin, the bloodier it gets. Once or twice I was bitten through my socks, and amazingly it doesn’t bleed as much.
Mt. Patukan: i didn't know i was bitten until someone saw blood

4. Some say that mosquito bites are more painful that limatik bites. I beg to disagree. There were cases where you could really feel the sting.

Mt. Pulog: first limatik bite

5. In removing a limatik CRAWLING on your skin, just pull it out. Sometimes it is hard to get them because of their slippery torso, and you have to roll them between your thumb and forefinger to get a better grip.

6. In removing a limatik ALREADY SUCKING BLOOD, you can pull it out, gently scraping your skin to ensure that you remove including the teeth. If you pull it out abruptly, some of the limatik’s little teeth might be left behind. Don’t put alcohol or salt on limatiks already attached to you. This might make them vomit all the blood including other stuff from their intestine… to your open wound. This will cause infection.

7. Don’t be afraid of limatik bites, they are harmless almost all of the times. Unlike leeches, they will detach from you once they became fully loaded. There were cases also of limatiks entering the eyes. Don’t panic, get a tweezer to help you pull it out. If they already settled, just wait for it to detach. Just be vigilant and do limatik check on your face most of the time.

8. Don’t let too much limatik feed on you. Too much blood loss can cause exhaustion on a climb.


Mountains with Reported Limatik Presence

1. Mt. Sicapoo
2. Mt. Ugu
3. Mt. Amuyao
4. Mt. Napulauan
5. Mt. Arayat (I have seen a tiny green one)
6. Mt. Natib
7. Pantingan Peak
8. Mt. Tapulao
9. Mt. Bungkol Baka
10. Mt. Makiling
11. Mt. Banahaw
12. Mt. Lucban de Banahaw
13. Mt. Malasimbo
14. Mt. Calavite
15. Mt. Halcon
16. Mt. Guiting-guiting
17. Mt. Pulog (Sorsogon)
18. Mt. Bulusan
19. Mt. Isarog
20. Mt. Asog
21. Mt. Malinao
22. Mt. Labo
23. Mt. Mantalingajan
24. Mt. Madjaas
25. Mt. Baluy Daku/Gamay
26. Mt. Kanlaon
27. Mt. Timpoong
28. Mt. Talomo
29. Mt. Pandadagsaan

And the list doesn’t stop there. For a more comprehensive list you could check out the PinoyMountaineer site.


This summer, I plan to climb some of the limatik infested mountains in my climblist. And Mt. Makiling is on top of that.

How about you... any limatik encounters lately?


ADDENDUM: 

These are considered limatik infested mountains (limatik country)... to which there were no or just a super minimal presence when I hiked there.

1. Mt. Natib - May 2010
2. Mt. Pantingan - March 2010
3. Mt. Patukan - March-April 2010
4. Mt. Malinao - June 2010
5. Mt. Pulog - November 2009




PHOTOCREDITS:
Tiger limatiks @ Mt. Isarog- Patag trail - Ms. Tina Galido
Mt. Banahaw limatik: Jay Labilles












10 comments:

  1. ang ganda naman ng kulay ng limatik na yan. i had an encounter sa mindoro. forgot the name but its the mountain which is part of halcon. ang dami talaga. as in every few meters. got bitten din sa mt. malindang in misamis occidental

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  2. hi estan... mt. iglit-baco perhaps? almost all of mountains in mindoro are infested with limatiks so i've heard.

    thanks for noting mt. malindang. will stay away from it. lols.

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  3. Mostly on the Los Banos side. Did not get any on the Batangas side during a Makiling traverse last year.

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  4. that's what i heard sir... nakaabang na sila sa UPLB. :D

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  5. This made me cringe and think about climbing those mountains thrice :)

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  6. at talagang thinking thrice, hahaha. :D

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  7. Now I can attest that Mt. Napulauan really has limatik on both sides. I got bitten on our descent. I was bloodied all over the stomach and there's a little bruise on the bite area when we reached the jumpoff. I just washed it with water. Now it wouldn't stop itching I have to find my Caladryl.

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  8. Pantingan Peak is where my ultimate limatik experience occur, nag enjoy ng todo ang mga blood sucker, we've been there on the height of Bagyong Quiel and nag fiesta ang mga limatik. nakakainis kasi ang kati..

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  9. Mt. Romelo...andami ding limatik, as in naka-abang na sila sa mga dadaanan..parang ambush ang nangyari sa amin... makikita mo na lng busog na sila at matataba...ung isa kong kasama, may nakita siya kagad sa puwitan!

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