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Adding to the depths of our worries

Recently while chatting with my 12-year-old grandson, a budding outdoorsman, he expressed a newfound fear of venturing into ponds and creeks. “Luca, why on earth?” I asked.

With a mere two words he explained, “Toe Biter.”

Instantly, my face revealed serious doubt to which he responded, “No, Grandpa, it really is a thing!”

Eager to prove that another urban legend has infected our youth I did a quick search. It turns out the 12-year-old was right.

It really is a thing. An ugly, roach-like, water dwelling thing…on steroids.

Latch, stab, inject. That’s the modus operandi of this assassin. He’ll use his forelegs to latch on to his prey (or your big toe), then he’ll unleash a retractable proboscis to stab and inject venom which works its magic by turning his victim’s innards into a smoothie. A

At his biggest, he measures 4 inches long and he’s nasty enough to kill frogs and small fish.

“Viscous, intense pain” summarizes most descriptions of his sting. Of course I managed to find a video of an Internet knucklehead who caught one and induced a sting. He spent the next several minutes writhing and screaming while holding his bleeding, poisoned big toe.

The bad news… this heinous critter hangs out in ponds and slow moving freshwater in the United States and Southern Canada.

Maps of his range and habitat indicate yes indeed, he dwells among us. Worse yet, he is a three way threat since he can move about on water, land and (oh no!) he can fly! The good news… his painful bite is otherwise non-toxic to us humans and, small comfort, he does his best to avoid us.

There you have it, folks. The list of things to worry about just got a wee bit longer.

Rod Pennica is a Fredonia resident.

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