5 Terrifying Things About Jellyfish

It’s a common joke in our home that some day I will write a story about jellyfish taking over the world. Why? Because jellies are scary. Here’s my top five reasons they make the hair on the back of my neck dance:

One – They are Everywhere

Jellyfish drift along currents in every ocean in the world. They can be found in deep water, shallow water and along beaches. They have been on earth since before the time of the dinosaurs.  500 to 700 million years!

Two – They Have no Brains

Seriously – no brains.

How do they even function? They have neurons that send messages throughout their system. Is this a different kind of brain? Mmm, it’s different from how we function, that’s for sure. My writer’s mind loves this stuff.

“Instead of a single, centralized brain, jellyfish possess a net of nerves. This “ring” nervous system is where their neurons are concentrated—a processing station for sensory and motor activity.” (How are Jellyfish Able to Live Without a Brain)

Three- They Know Where They are Going

Yes, Jellies are able to navigate their direction.

“In fact, box jellyfish even have advanced eyes similar to humans. Their complicated eyes allow them to see more favorable habitats that they can swim towards, according to the Current Biology study.

“These behaviors require not only accurate vision but also precise control of speed and direction of swimming,” writes the researchers.

Some box jellyfish are so advanced that they even engage in mating rituals, in which a male grabs a female by her tentacles to deposit spermatophores on her.

“The box jellyfish solution may thus be linked to the absence of a central brain, but it defeats the idea that a central brain is a prerequisite for advanced behavior,” writes the researchers.” (Ibid.)

Four – Jellies Have no Bones, Poisonous Tentacles and They Light Up

Jellies are 98% water. They are not actually fish. They are a type of plankton distantly related to sea anemones and have only one opening in their bodies through which they eat, procreate and release waste material. They use their tentacles to grab food and also to protect themselves. The tentacles carry poison. Many of them light up in the dark.

Five – They Move In

In the fall a red variety of jellyfish move into the small bay where I like to swim on my favourite Gulf Island off the west coast of Canada. If you touch one, their poison stings but doesn’t kill you. Swimming between or around them is impossible. With seemingly little effort, they displace us every fall.

So what do you think? Should I write a story about the invasion on the Jellies?


Sources:

Wikipedia

How are Jellyfish Able to Live Without a Brain

Science ABC

10 Scary Facts About the Zika Mosquitoes

Two mosquitos spread the Zika virus.

  • Aedes Aegypti (often called the Yellow Fever mosquito)
  • Aedes Albopictus (commonly called the Asian Tiger mosquito)

Here is a  list of the top ten facts about them.

One –

256px-Aedes_Albopictus
Aedes albopictus obtaining blood from a human

Although  the Aedes Albopictus is native to tropical and subtropical areas of Southeast Asia, they are spreading to many countries. They can even survive snow. They are called the Asian Tiger Mosquito because of their striped appearance.

Two

Aedes aeypti
Aedes aeypti

The Aedes Eegypti are considered to be the main carriers of the Zika virus,  because they prefer to feed on humans. They feed mostly at dusk and at night, but can feed in the day. They live twelve months a year and, “their eggs can remain viable for over a year in a dry state.” (Wikepedia)

 

Three

The mosquitoes are vectors (i.e., carriers) for many viral pathogens (i.e., yellow fever, Zika dengue fever and Chikungunya fever.

Four

Appearance – The aedes aeypti is usually 1.6 to 2.8 mm long and is recognized by the white markings on its legs. The Aedes albopictus is 2 to 10 mm long and is striped black and white.

Five

Female have a long proboscis, which they use to collect blood to feed her eggs. Males feed on plant nectar.

Six

It has been suggested that the mosquitoes are drawn to pregnant women because they emit more carbon dioxide, but I’ve had trouble verifying that. It could be an urban myth.

Seven

They bite during the day as well as at dusk and at night.

Eight

They are really good at spreading disease because they do bite diverse host species, which enables certain pathogens to jump species.

Nine

They are fast biters, so it’s difficult to swat them dead before they’ve moved on to their next victim.

Ten

They breed near standing water.

 


The Good News (maybe)

Bug – Out Time:


Sources:

Wikepedia on Aedes albpictus

Wikepedia on Aedes aegypti

Zika Virus

Featured Creatures (University of Florida)

European Center for Disease Prevention and Control 


Photo Credit:

Aedes aegypi picture from Wikipedia: photographer By Muhammad Mahdi Karim 

Aedes albopictus picture: CDC – This media comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s Public Health Image Library (PHIL), with identification number #4487.


Why am I writing about mosquitoes?

They scare me. Did I mention that I’m writing a story about the world after a plague created by mosquitoes? Stay tuned.