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]

You Can Buy an Extinct Volcano in Devon, England, for $60,000

People buy private islands, so why not buy a private volcano? Posbury Clump, a 250-million-year-old inactive volcano located in Devon, England, could be yours for the seemingly reasonable price of about $60,0000.

As Smithsonian reports, the volcano is 500 feet tall at its peak and surrounded by 4.9 acres of woodland (holly, oak, and ash trees), so you get sweeping views of the English countryside. The wooded outcrop and rolling hills make Posbury Clump look less like a volcano and more like a forest. Architects used the basalt stone from a former on-site quarry to build two of the area's most famous structures: Crediton Church and Medland Manor.

Because of its unique potassium-rich lava and other rare geological features, Posbury Clump has been designated a site of scientific interest, and as such has been formally marked for conservation.

Currently, only a few houses reside in the area, but Posbury—settled during the Iron Age, between about 800 BCE and AD 100—once housed convent Posbury St Francis, which was a part of the Posbury Clump estate. Those interested in possibly purchasing the volcano can contact agent Jackson-Stops. The cost is £50,000, or around $60,800, which is about what you'd pay to rent a studio apartment in New York City's Tribeca neighborhood for one year.

Just remember: If you do buy the volcano, you won't be the first person to purchase such a thing. According to Atlas Obscura, famed cartoonist-turned-oddities-collector Robert Ripley tried to purchase Parícutin (a baby volcano that suddenly sprung up from a cornfield in Mexico) in 1943, but was beaten to the punch by muralist Gerardo Murillo. Several individuals have privately owned New Zealand's active Whakaari volcano, and people privately own volcanoes in California and Oregon, too.

We're Hiring an Associate Editor!

finevector/iStock via Getty Images Plus
finevector/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Mental Floss is hiring an associate editor!

Are you obsessed with finding unusual gifts for your friends and relatives? Do you love leaving reviews for every product you buy? Then this is the job for you.

We’re looking for an associate editor to join the team in our New York City office. This person will have the ability to find products that are both quirky and smart—tea bags that look like goldfish, the items chefs say everyone should have in their kitchens—and be able to sniff out a good sale. 

Primary responsibilities will include: conceiving and assigning product posts that fit Mental Floss's smart, quirky voice and positive tone; finding deals; writing daily product posts; editing work from freelancers and staff writers; adding affiliate links to existing posts; and generally elevating Mental Floss's product coverage.

But wait, there's more! Because we're a small editorial team, you'll wear many hats: You’ll edit news posts, help with video scripts, and pitch in on things like event planning and book projects. It’s not just because you’re new—here, everyone does a little of everything.

Ideal candidates will have:

  • Two years of editing, writing, and assigning experience in the affiliates space
  • Experience with affiliate networks like Skimlinks and Amazon
  • A keen eye for spotting Flossy products and determining what makes those products appealing
  • Strong editorial judgment
  • A natural curiosity and the ability to generate tons of story ideas
  • Energetic, positive written voice (and attitude!)
  • The ability to turn around constructive feedback to writers quickly
  • Excellent time management skills, the ability to prioritize, and a high level of attention to detail
  • The ability to juggle multiple projects while staying on deadline
  • A willingness to take ownership of projects and collaborate with the rest of the team
  • Knowledge of analytics, and the ability to track and analyze data
  • A clear understanding of Mental Floss’s mission, voice, and audience
  • SEO and Photoshop skills a plus

How to Apply

Just click here!

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