Monday, May 13, 2013

FREAKY BLOOD SUCKERS: Vampire Bacteria, Vampire Insects, Vampire Larvae, and Vampire Mammals

The Vampire: Medical Leech
Human beings are not the only creatures who tell vampire stories. Most animal species and fish have had first hand experience with such blood-sucking critters because there are many different kinds of creatures that prey upon unsuspecting hosts.


BED BUGS (Vampire): Primarily targeting humans, these vampire bugs are much like vampire bats and leeches in regards to how they inject an anticoagulant into the victim's blood so blood flows more freely. You can meet these little vampires in hotels mattresses, dormitories, and cruise ships, but they have also been known to infest places such as subways, movie theaters, nursing homes, hospitals, and planes.

CANDIRU CAT FISH (Vampire): Here's a swimming partner you never want to meet. Cover your private parts and never swim naked in the Amazon or South America's Orinoco rivers. That's where parasitic catfish attack by swimming up inside your urethra to eat your tissue and drink your blood. On record, these catfish have been measured to grow six inches long. 

Vampire Finch Feeding On
A Boobie Bird
These finches find larger sea birds, such as the Boobie, to pounce on and pecking until it bleeds. Once a gusher is going, other vampire finches might join in to help drink the blood.

EUROPEAN MEDICAL LEECH (Vampire): Used in bloodletting medical practices the Vampire Leech has proven itself helpful when it comes to human health care.

FLEAS (Vampire): Notice how this little blood-sucking insect's name rhymes with PLEASE be mine? Without mammals to feed on, these little guys would never get a life. Yet they sure have taken a lot of human lives. (Think: Bubonic plague.) Interestingly, fleas have a certain sense of taste. Some vampiric fleas prefer dogs, others like cats most, and some fleas target humans almost exclusively for the red elixir flowing inside their host's veins. 

HORSE FLIES (Vampire): Horseflies employ razor-edged mouth parts to slice open flesh. Then they really go to town lapping up whatever blood oozes out.

KISSING BUG (Vampire):
Vampire Kissing Bug
If you're 90 years old and suddenly wake up looking like you have acne, you might suspect you actually have a kissing bug problem instead. These blood suckers prefer drinking from a human's face regardless of age. Found in North and South America, be grateful if you've never puckered your lips against a vampire kissing bug. 

LAMPREY (Vampire): With a circular mouth that's full of fangs, you can feel grateful these larvae prefer latching onto fish with their suction and hook. While they don't attack humans unless they're starving, they live in both fresh and saltwater. 

LICE (Vampire): These little vampires love to live in certain areas of their host's body. That's why "head lice" are called "head lice." Such vampires don't feel comfortable hanging out in your smelly armpit or shoe. 

The Vampire Mite Rides A Bee's Back
MITES (Vampire): You've heard of dust mites, have you heard of the vampire mite, or Varro Mite, that has been killing different kinds of pollinating bees? The insect attaches to the bee much like a tick does and it sucks fluid from the bee's body. Many hives have been wiped out thanks to this predatory mite. It had spread to Asia by 1904, and by 1962-62 they were found in Hong Kong and the Philippines. After that they spread rapidly and entered the U.S.A. in the 1980s.

MOSQUITOES (Vampire): Only female mosquitoes will drink your blood. The males are vegetarians who consume nectar, mostly. Though very small, these female bandits have become famously known as mass murders to humans. Think "malaria," and the "West Nile virus" for starters.

STAPH BACTERIA (Vampire): From my year of studying medical microbiology (and loving it) I know that Staphylococcus aureus (staph) does not always behave like a predator. It can live inside some people's noses quite amicably and doesn't always make folks get sick. Staph can easily be found hiding inside a teenager's pimples but it's also found in boils and surgical pus. Often partying with normal skin flora, staph can behave kindly there as well but it can also become the flesh-eating bacteria known as MRSA. If you get staph inside your blood stream it will drink the iron from blood and cause sepsis or scarlet fever! Point is staphylococcus aureus love sucking blood, which is why I list it here. In fact, sources at Vanderbilt University say staphylococcus prefers human blood to all other mammalian blood. 

TICK (Vampire): Ticks are probably the most insatiable vampire known to men and women. They can drink 600 times their own body weight. While a tick is way too small to completely drain you, if you let it keep its head burrowed under your skin you can get sick from infections like Lyme Disease. 

TORPEDO SEA SNAILS (Vampire): Most people think that vampires move quickly but the Torpedo sea snail doesn't. It inches up slowly onto an electric stingrays (Torpediformes) body to drink its blood. 

VAMPIRE BAT (Vampire): As a former bat ambassador from Washington state, I have learned how vital bats are to maintaining a healthy environment. Not only can a small brown bat eat 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour (saving you and I from anemia) but most bats are either insectivores or vegetarians. That stated, there are two bat species that drink blood. The hairy-legged vampire bat and the white-winged vampire bat. Found in Central and South America, these bats drink animal blood, primarily. Since cattle invaded their territory, cows are frequently the vampire bat's host. 

VAMPIRE MOTH: Using its sharp proboscis to drill through the skin of mammals like Dracula uses fangs, the vampire moth gorges itself on mammalian blood by sucking the red elixir up through a straw-like mouth.

VAMPIRE SPIDERS: Robbing blood from a female mosquito is a tactic that vampire spiders use to attract a mate. Reportedly blood meals give vampire spiders a pheromone-like perfume that drives the opposite gender wild. Similar to a Dampr (half-human/half-vampire) vampire spiders hunt and kill Draculasquitoes, drinking them dry. 

VAMPIRE SQUID: Six inches long and living 3,000 feet below sea level, this animal is not actually a vampire at all. It's only named "vampire" for the way its fins spread out to look like a vampire's cape.

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