Bloodsuckers Are Among Us
“Our body is our temple” – an old saying that is completely wrong! Our body is more like supermarket for lots of other organisms. The best thing our body can offer is blood. It brings oxygen and nutrients to the all parts of our body. We couldn’t live without blood, but so do the other living organisms around us. So, some of them must use our blood to survive. Well, this is where all vampire stories come alive. Lately, there are many more blood suckers than before. Scientists say that there is more and more species that attack humans. In past couple of years, they discovered a ‘vampire‘ moth that attacks soft and unprotected human skin. No one can guarantee that there will be no more new blood suckers, but let’s focus on already well-known, weird, disturbing, but perfect ones. Each and every one of them has its own way to get what it wants – blood.
When we think about vampires, we often connect bats with them, because of their night-life, soundless wings, teeth… But, only one out of 1200 species is a blood sucker. The one that is called Desmodontidae. This bat finds victims, other smaller mammals, by their breathing. This bat is capable of coming on ground, chasing the target, and following it for its blood warmth, find the right spot and finally bite! During the hunting season, Desmodontidae doubles its own weight. Then it is strong enough to carry a rabbit! There is a widespread and unique specimen that attacks humans, it is called Desmodus Rotundus. Though this sounds a little scary, don’t worry, this bat does it only when there is nothing else left to eat. Mostly, they feed on cattle. But, don’t despair if get bitten by this kind of bat, there is a bright side of the story. Scientists say that these bats secrete chemical that makes blood more liquid, that improves its flowing, what is especially good for people who survived a stroke.
2. Sea Lamprey
A fish called Petromyzon or a Sea lamprey is a vertebrate without jaws, with poorly developed branchiae and lives nearby drinking water. Thus it is safe of attack from the surrounding but it’s not harmless at all. Like salmon, the Sea lamprey starts a journey upstream for mating, and with (her) little ones it comes back to the sea. But, while salmons go back to the open ocean, eating smaller fishes and invertebrates, grown-ups sea lampreys stick their mouth to fish or whale skin and suck their blood. They do it with its coarse tongue and sharp teeth. Scientists make fun of them and say that it is a true paradise for Sea lampreys when they stick on a whale that has liters of blood and no place to smash them against or to get rid of them.
Asian tiger mosquito, or Stegomyia albopicta in Latin, is just one out of the hundreds of species who feed on blood. If it is any consolation, this mosquito does it for the offspring. Female mosquito needs proteins to create eggs. Well, ok, it is not a comfort for those who suffered from bite of these arthropods, their anticoagulants and itchy spots. But this mosquito is not lethal in comparison with the one that transfers Malaria. A common mosquito – Anopheles maculipennis that bites millions of people is completely harmless. Even more, it is braver than its two relatives , because it is feeding freely during daylight.
Along with mosquitoes, bedbugs from Heteriptera family are small flying insects people shy away from. They can be found in almost every house around the world. Their boy is flat and brown-redish. They are hiding during the day, but by night they go out looking for food. And by food I mean blood. Cimex lectularius is a house or bed bug that feeds on human blood. They are invisible for the naked eye, but they leave red, itchy spot on the skin behind them. A special substance in their saliva prevents victim’s blood from coagulation while they’re sucking it. But, scientists say that it’s our own fault for their overrun. Once they’re out of their living caves (it is supposed that they originally lived in caves, feeding on bat’s blood) they are surrounded by seven billion red rivers that flow through bodies of seven billion people on the world. Having this around, bedbug never comes back into the cave. And truth to be told it is hard to make it go away once it locates.
Nature scientists from Florida University claim that 3000 moths of Tineida family are bloodsuckers. These moths once were herbivores, but suddenly they started eating human blood. We often speak about various mutations, but this is something different. A bloodsucker is created from a pest , that lives by night and sleeps by day. Scientists are afraid that this may be only a beginning, one can never know if some other specie turn to sucking people’s blood.
Famous naturalist Charles Darwin witnessed many strange happenings on Galapagos. He saw iguanas diving in salt water, tame hawks… Of course, he saw lots of finches, but he missed something significant – the dark side of this bird called Geospiza difficilis septentrionalis, a subgroup of finches. This animal’s feeding is mostly regular, made of some seeds and insects, but later on it was noticed that a part of food for these birds is blood. Scientists think that this change might be caused by climate, which is very dry on Galapagos, so they use blood to compensate loss of body fluids this climate can cause. On the other hand, this may not be an explanation. Some other scientists consider that this birds are starting to transform to parasite-birds
A vampire fish from Trichomycteridae family is one of the freshwater parasite. This fish lives in Amazon and Orinoko rivers. They are known for entering the bigger fish’s branchiae and suck blood from the victim’s main artery. A ‘funny’ thing about all this is that the fish doesn’t need to really suck, the blood pressure of the victim is working for it, so the blood comes straight into fish’s mouth. But, beside the free meal, the fish also gets the free ride, so the vampire fish can feed miles away from place they’ve been found at the first place.
Well, the worst thing of all is that not only fish, birds and insects are bloodsuckers. It is known that in some cultures of ancient times there was a custom of sacrificing and drinking human blood as a rite. Unfortunately, this custom still lives up to today! This custom was characteristic for pre-colombian Peru, and people of Masai from Kenya and Tansania still do such kind of rites.