Bugs and Leeches- Have you had an experience?

emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member
edited August 2012 in General Discussion
I'm looking to speak with a few more swimmers who have dealt with leeches, sand fleas, backswimmers, mosquitos, ticks, etc. before, during, or after training or competitive swims, particularly if said interaction resulted in a deleterious health impact. Please message me off group at ekornbau@yahoo.com if you have a story you'd like to share.
Thanks (and don't scratch!)
Elaine

Stop me if you've heard this one... A grasshopper walks into a bar... https://elaine-howley.squarespace.com/

Comments

  • ssthomasssthomas Charter Member
    Oh my. No experience, but that sounds terrible!
  • Didn't happen me directly, but let me say ... lamprey eels. Happened one of the club's swimmers in the Lower Lake in Killarney, Ireland. Not just one but a few bit into his chest, and hung on.

    Didn't have any negative medical implications ... except of course for the screaming heebie-jeebies!

    Sea-lice (swimmer's itch) is a problem here at end of summer, like many places. I had one event about 4 weeks where the itch lasted for about a week afterwards, longest ever for me.
    tortuga
  • I have had horseflies follow me for more than a mile in the lake. Those things are nasty and persistent. They are kind of slow though, so they keep bombarding you but never have enough time to bite you.
    I have heard stories of lamprey's attacking swimmers in Lake Champlain as well, although, judging by the health of the lake trout recently the lamprey control seems to be working.
  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member
    "Not just one but a few bit into his chest, and hung on"...

    Okay...I've just looked up lamprey eels and may never go in the water again.
    pavlicovtortuga
  • rosemarymintrosemarymint Highland Park, NJCharter Member
    I've had sea lice (larval jellyfish) so bad that I nearly ended up in the ER from the systemic allergic response. The resulting wounds actually left some scars and the rash took nearly two months to fully heal.

    We have these lovely biting flies around here called green heads. When the wind is out of the west during the summer, that means they come on the beach. And by beach, I mean any exposed flesh within 150 yards of the shoreline is at risk. Last summer they were particularly bad. I had one swim where they chewed at me off and on for a full hour. I'd have preferred the jellyfish.
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    @KarenT I'd rather see a shark than a lamprey. They remind me of an X Files episode.@Loneswimmer I'm horrified to learn they're in Ireland :(((. Did I do the @ thing properly?
    dpm50
  • @KarenT, You had to go look, didn't you? Sorry!

    @ChickenOsea, Yes & yes. Not widespread that I know of though, but Killarney's Lower Lakes is one the jewels of the Irish landscape, while the Upper lakes have a problem with Zebra mussels, another invasive species. Glaciation and being an island meant a lower biodiversity in Ireland so it's easier for invasive species to get an powerful hold.

    Does anyone anywhere have a solution for swimmer's itch, other than the usual shower?
  • jendutjendut Charter Member
    Elaine thanks ALOT now my skin is itching everywhere. Pam O just showed me a bruise from a leech removal... there might be a story there!
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    I just use cortisone cream, though I think it's an allergy to pollen that makes me itch after lake swims, rather than creature attacks.
  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member
    @Loneswimmer - once bitten, twice shy, so to speak. I'm certainly not looking up "Zebra mussels" now, no matter how fabulously exotic they sound.
  • timsroottimsroot Charter Member
    KarenT said:

    @Loneswimmer - once bitten, twice shy, so to speak. I'm certainly not looking up "Zebra mussels" now, no matter how fabulously exotic they sound.

    Zebra Mussels aren't as scary as lampreys, we had an invasion of them in the great lakes around the early or mid 90s. It helped Lake Erie some, as they can act as filters. They look like small clams, maybe 1-2 cm across. The only injuries I've ever had from them were cutting my hand on them when the water quickly got shallow on me.
  • IronMikeIronMike Moscow, RussiaCharter Member

    I've had sea lice (larval jellyfish) so bad that I nearly ended up in the ER from the systemic allergic response. The resulting wounds actually left some scars and the rash took nearly two months to fully heal.

    @rosemarymint, I read somewhere else here that you can't have allergic reactions to jellies because they're really old...
  • rosemarymintrosemarymint Highland Park, NJCharter Member
    Maybe if I'm 62 and swimming in the gulf stream... :))
    pavlicov
  • ZoeSadlerZoeSadler Charter Member
    @KarenT Freda told me that, on rare occasions, sea lampreys have attached themselves to swimmers training in Dover Harbour. Apparently they usually attach themselves to the thigh area. The King told me that once one attached itself to him.

    I spent the entire season in Dover Harbour absolutely petrified after hearing that tale and hoping they were winding me up. Never encountered one though!

    Swimmers itch has been a problem in my local lake. After one 2 hour swim I had between 50-60 bites, and was nearly sick when I found out what had caused it. I haven't been back since.
  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member
    @ZoeSadler - that's it. I don't mind the water lice in the lakes, or even the jellyfish. But I draw the line at weird intermediate things with mouths that aren't really mouths hooking on to my thighs. I'm giving up swimming and taking up knitting instead. Pass the wool....
    dpm50
  • Karen, at this stage we are now all colluding to find things to freak you out for the entertainment value! :-)

    Zoe, what do you do once they grab on? Is it a straight pull to remove them? Nice circular scar afterwards?
    dpm50
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    edited September 2012
    @Karen Wool can be dangerous.
    image

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    Might be TMI, but getting a lamprey off must be like unlatching a breast feeding baby
    dpm50
  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member
    Like unlatching a breast feeding baby?! I could be in therapy for years after this conversation.

    Since knitting is apparently not an option, I'm going back to my long-standing and well-serving strategy of denial, successfully piloted by cartoon ostriches for decades. If I can't see it, it's not there.
    tortugadpm50
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    I was scarred forever by a documentary I saw in which someone was hauling bucket loads of squirming lampreys out of a place somewhere, I think, in the great lakes area. That was when I was still in Australia and hadn't even contemplated living in the US and taking up swimming. It was the first thing I thought about when I saw the lake here :(
    dpm50
  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member
    Bucket loads?
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    edited September 2012
    This video has the following rating: Not for @KarenT
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HW4g9Kpn7jU

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • rosemarymintrosemarymint Highland Park, NJCharter Member
    Awesome video, but what they don't know is what's chasing the fish to make them jump like that....
    dpm50
  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member
    Okay...which one of you recruited the BBC in the mission to freak me out with lampreys? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-19573967

    Amazing picture, though. Kind of.
    dpm50
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    Oh no
  • emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member
    Thanks for the delightful (no, really!) conversation and the insights, gang. I got tons of stuff- much appreciated. Watch for the October issue of H2Open magazine for more on things that nibble.

    Also, for you lamprey enthusiasts, I know that River Monsters (that Jeremey Wade program on Animal Planet that must scare the pants off KarenT) was doing an episode on lampreys in Lake Champlain recently. They were recruiting open water swimmers for the re-enactment portions, and while I sadly couldn't attend, I believe Charlotte Brynn and a few of her buddies did. No idea when the episode will air, but I'm sure it'll keep me outta Champlain for a little while. So keep your eyes peeled for that-- more nightmare material to come! :-SS

    Stop me if you've heard this one... A grasshopper walks into a bar... https://elaine-howley.squarespace.com/

  • I need to stay out of the forum before bedtime.
    dpm50

    Sisu: a Finnish term meaning strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.

  • IronMikeIronMike Moscow, RussiaCharter Member
    I don't know if this counts, but during a recent business trip I swam in the Atlantic a bunch of times. About 3 times, some remoras (suckerfish) attached to my thigh. Freaked me out.
  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member
    Anything that attaches itself to any part of you 'counts'. Three times??! This, by the way, is another new one for me. My nightmares just got that little bit creepier.
  • I guess this is what emkhowley was referring to.
    Talk about Alfred Hitchcock meets Jacques Cousteau.

    Sisu: a Finnish term meaning strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.

  • oxooxo Guest
    edited January 2013

    Fisheries technician puts a Pacific lamprey near his face and it latches on to his cheek.

  • ZoeSadlerZoeSadler Charter Member
    I did something really stupid last night.
    I was reading about Ned Denison's amazing False Bay swim and curiously (i.e. stupidly) googled "Great White distribution". I've now gone off several swims that were on my bucket list!
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    @ZoeSadler No need to fear. Driving a car is 44,000 times more dangerous and you still do that.
    Read Swimming Safely With Thoughts Of Sharks
    dpm50

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member
    Ahaha! I am dying over here. I just watched the Animal Planet clip. Hilarious re-enactment. I'm sure the swimmers all stretched and warmed up in sync as shown, and the ladies didn't wear swim caps to cover 8 miles. Thank you for posting- I needed a little comic relief today!

    Stop me if you've heard this one... A grasshopper walks into a bar... https://elaine-howley.squarespace.com/

  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    edited January 2013

    Ahaha! I am dying over here. I just watched the Animal Planet clip. Hilarious re-enactment. I'm sure the swimmers all stretched and warmed up in sync as shown, and the ladies didn't wear swim caps to cover 8 miles.

    And without wet-suit?

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • IronMikeIronMike Moscow, RussiaCharter Member
  • danswimsdanswims Portland, ORMember
    edited April 18

    IronMike said: I don't know what the hell this thing is, but I don't like it.

    Looks like something that lives in such deep water that it would never be encountered. Lots of weird and scary looking things in the depths.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0226595668/?tag=oddee-20

    IronMike
  • I swam in a lake in the Utah mountains. Beautiful, cool water. Upon getting out I realized my legs were crawling with leaches.

  • tortugatortuga Senior Member

    I do most of my training in a pond and routinely pick little leaches off my feet afterward. They don't eat much.

  • I've been stung by a bee in salt water - it was floating on the surface and I backed into it. It's happened to several people I know.

  • IronMikeIronMike Moscow, RussiaCharter Member

    Thank God this thing's only grabbing small fry.

  • IronMikeIronMike Moscow, RussiaCharter Member

    My video above disappeared. Here's another scary one:

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    I'm not sure if I'm ready to watch your videos, @IronMike .... a healthy dose of self delusion allows me to swim in open water w/out actually knowing what's down there. ;)

    SoloChrisgreeneIronMike
  • MalMal New Member

    Not quite marathon swimming, but my mate and I when out bush in Australia spent a couple of hours in the evening, as it had been a very hot and tiring day, just sat in a billabong . On getting out for a drink I noticed at least a hundred leeches all over my body. My mate was the same and we spent half an hour getting the devils off, making noises such as OOh, aah, ugh etc. and stopping them inching their way into our mouths (and other places).

    Solodpm50
  • IronMikeIronMike Moscow, RussiaCharter Member

    Tasty on a bed of Japanese rice, but I wouldn't want to frighten one.

    dpm50
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