Reality Bites: A Humongous Tick That Chases Its Prey Has Been Found in the Netherlands

ironman100/iStock via Getty Images
ironman100/iStock via Getty Images

Humans have long been discouraged from tolerating the parasitic behavior of the tick. These pathogen-ridden arachnids latch onto their hosts for a blood buffet while transmitting a variety of diseases through their bites. Typically, ticks in infested areas wait for their hosts to stand or pass by and hope a bare leg presents itself.

But not all ticks are so passive. In the Netherlands, there have been reported sightings of Hyalomma marginatum, a kind of Andre the Giant of ticks that are twice the size of a more common species, Ixodes ricinus (sheep tick). Worse, they don’t sit idle. If they want to bite you, they’ll run after you.

The non-native species has been spotted twice in the past month. One was in Drenthe, a province in the northeastern part of the country, and the other was found in Achterhoek. They measure up to 0.2 inches but can grow to 0.7 inches when engorged with the blood of their hosts. The ticks are known to hide in brush. When they spot a potential meal, they run toward it. H. marginatum can detect a victim from up to 30 feet away and track it for 10 minutes before abandoning pursuit.

The species is typically found in northern Africa and Asia as well as parts of southern and eastern Europe. How did they get to the Netherlands? Researchers theorize they hitchhiked on migratory birds. And while their appearances have been scarce, they’re still a cause for concern. H. marginatum is known to harbor the virus that causes Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, which lists uncontrolled bleeding among its undesirable symptoms. The ticks, which were collected for analysis, tested negative for that disease but one was positive for the bacteria Rickettsia aeschlimannii, which causes spotted fever.

There have been no sightings of H. marginatum in the U.S., but native ticks remain a perpetual concern. If you’re outdoors, it’s always a good idea to monitor yourself for ticks and take steps to remove them safely.

[h/t LiveScience]

Warning: That $75 Costco Coupon Circulating on Facebook Is a Scam

AntonioGuillem/iStock via Getty Images
AntonioGuillem/iStock via Getty Images

The promise of $75 to spend at Costco—especially mere weeks from Thanksgiving—is understandably hard to pass up, so it’s no surprise that a coupon advertising just that has been circulating on Facebook for the past several days.

However, ABC7 reports that Costco took to Facebook to set the record straight: It’s a scam. “While we love our fans and our members,” the company said in a post, “this offer is a SCAM, and in no way affiliated with Costco.”

According to Snopes.com, users who click the link to get the coupon are taken to website pages, which are not operated by Costco, that ask them to share their name, address, email address, date of birth, phone number, complete several surveys, and register for “Reward Offers,” which might entail filling out a credit card application or signing up for a subscription service.

With hindsight bias, the operation definitely seems suspicious—but the information it requires really isn’t much different than what we’re used to sharing on the internet. Plenty of companies offer similar coupons that you can claim through social media, and you’ve probably entered your credit card information for at least a free trial or two. Plus, when you’re accustomed to scrolling through your Facebook feed about as fast as your thumbs can go, it’s not hard to overlook the misspelled words or shoddy logos that should be red flags.

If you’ve already clicked on the fake Costco coupon or think you’ve been targeted by phishing or scamming, the company recommends that you contact costcocare@costco.com or report the attempt to the Federal Trade Commission here.

Worried you might be an easy target for cyber scams? Check out these seven pieces of personal information you should think twice about sharing on social media.

[h/t ABC7]

POW/MIA Military Flag Will Now Fly Permanently at Key Federal Sites Across the Country

Dennis Rogers, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Dennis Rogers, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The POW/MIA military flag, which displays a soldier’s silhouette above the words “You Are Not Forgotten,” honors unaccounted-for military members who have either been taken as prisoners of war or gone missing in action. Before now, it was only required to be flown six times each year—Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, and National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

But that’s changing, thanks to a proposal sponsored by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and New Hampshire Representative Chris Pappas that was signed into law on Thursday, November 7. According to Military Times, the legislation mandates certain federal buildings and war memorials to keep the flag raised year-round.

Though it doesn’t apply to every federal institution, it does include the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, the Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters, every post office and national cemetery, and war memorials such as the World War II Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It’ll also be raised during every major U.S. military installation.

According to Time magazine, the flag was created in 1972 by illustrator and World War II veteran Newton Heisley, and was originally meant to function as a symbol for the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. Today, considering more than 82,000 soldiers are listed as POW/MIA, the flag has taken on an even broader significance.

“This is a historic victory for every man and woman who courageously defended this nation and remain unaccounted for,” Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander William Schmitz said in a statement. “The daily display of the POW/MIA flag at all prominent federal properties now serves as a daily reminder that these heroes, and their families, are forever etched in our DNA.”

Keep an eye out for the flag during media coverage of Veterans Day this Monday, and check out these honorable ways to help veterans.

[h/t Military Times]

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