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]

We're Hiring a Part-Time Editorial Intern

zakokor/iStock via Getty Images
zakokor/iStock via Getty Images

Mental Floss is hiring a part-time editorial intern for our New York City office (though part of your hours can be worked remotely). We’re looking for a rabidly curious individual who is interested in contributing to various aspects of MentalFloss.com.

You can write about almost anything, and you will: Why Paraguay loves Rutherford B. Hayes. What people did for fun in the 16th century. Why the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were so obsessed with pizza. Chaucer. Mini-golf. Drones. Why Syrian golden hamsters spend so much time at the liquor store.

In addition to writing, researching, photo sourcing, web production, and pitching story ideas, you’ll have the opportunity to assist our social media editor with conceptualizing and executing ideas for our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels and sharing the new content we post daily. You’ll also have the chance to work with our video team to write and produce our slate of YouTube series; pitch in on our new podcast; and be a part of our monthly team brainstorms. This is a fantastic opportunity for someone looking to learn the digital publishing industry from the ground up, to be able to contribute to some fun (and sometimes bizarre) projects, and to earn some bylines on our Webby Award-winning website.

You’ll be working approximately 15-20 hours per week (and can spend some of that time working remotely, though onsite hours will be required). The position starts ASAP and pays $15/hour. Though it’s scheduled to be a two- to three-month position, the opportunity to continue on after that may be possible.

Ideal candidates will have:
- At least one year of writing and/or editing experience (classes, school-based projects, and/or personal blogs or websites count)
- A natural curiosity and the ability to generate tons of story ideas and execute timely stories on tight deadlines
- Strong attention to detail and multitasking skills
- Energetic, positive written voice, and the ability to translate complicated concepts into accessible writing
- Strong research skills
- Ability to work and collaborate with a team

Click here for more information, and to submit your application.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Toys “R” Us Is Officially Back in Business

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

For people who grew up roaming endless rows of action figures and testing go-karts at Toys “R” Us, the news of its closing last year felt a little like the official end of childhood.

But we have good news for kids—and kids at heart—everywhere: Toys “R” Us is back in business. And it just opened its first new store at the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, New Jersey. A similar store will open in Houston, Texas in early December.

According to NJ.com, Tru Kids Brands purchased the company’s liquidated assets at an auction last October, and they’ve teamed up with “experiential retailer” b8ta to create smaller, more creative brick-and-mortar stores. At about 6500 square feet, the Paramus store is much more streamlined than the former 40,000-square-foot warehouse-like models.

“Much smaller, but this store is packed with product, packed with amazing brands, packed with innovation, great technology,” Tru Kids Brands CEO Richard Barry said at the grand opening.

That innovation comes in the form of eye-catching toy displays, touch screens, a “Play-a-Round Theater” space for kids to entertain themselves while their parents shop, and even “Geoffrey’s Tree House,” a playhouse at the center of the store, complete with a winding staircase.

In addition to classics like LEGO, Nintendo, and Nerf, the store also features some newer brands, like Paw Patrol, that you won’t recognize from your original adventures as a Toys “R” Us kid.

The experiential establishments aren’t the only way Tru Kids is trying to revive the former toy store—they also recently relaunched the Toys “R” Us website, which now reroutes consumers to Target’s website, where they can complete their purchases.

Inspired to pull your old Hot Wheels and Furbies out of storage to relive their glory days? Not a bad idea, since some of them could be worth a fortune.

[h/t NJ.com]

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