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The 7 Most Leech-Infested Lakes In The United States

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Did you know there are about 480 species of leech that inhabit freshwater areas, and about 100 leech species that are found in the marine? There are various leech-infested lakes in the United States where leeches are found in large numbers.

More than 250 lakes are there in the United States, but do you know which lakes among this considerable number have leeches in them? If you are planning on swimming in lakes in the US soon, maybe have a look at this guide first.

After reading this article, you will have sufficient information about the most leech-infested lakes in the United States so that you will never jump in them for a swim!

Leech Teemed Lakes:

leeches in lakes
Not all leeches are harmful or carry diseases.

Leeches are similar to earthworms. They not only inhabit tropical areas but live in general in water, such as lakes. Leeches are most commonly occurring in the shorelines and shallow water of lakes. There are also different types; therefore, not every leech will suck your blood. 

The lakes that have an abundance of leeches are not limited. Their presence is troublesome for swimmers and dangerous to those with a phobia of parasites and worms.

The 7 Most Leech-Infested Lakes In The United States

Commonly leeches are called segmented worms. Swimming in the leech-infested lakes is like giving a treat to leech species on your blood. Therefore do not present yourself to leeches in these lakes in the United States.

Leech-infested lakes in the United States are;

  • Lake Gaston
  • Lake Lanier
  • Lake Michigan
  • Lake Erie
  • Lake George
  • Lake Tahoe
  • New Hampshire Lakes

#1 Lake Gaston

If you're looking to catch some Largemouth Bass, then this is the perfect lake to pick for your next fishing spot!
Besides leeches, you can also find Largemouth Bass in Lake Gaston

One of the cleanest water lakes, lake gaston, is about 32 miles long and spread over 20,000 acres. This beautiful lake is bounded by two dams, Gaston and Kerr dams. Lake Gaston is also among the most leech-infested lakes in the United States. 

The leeches are increasing in number in pure drinkable water of lake gaston. Lake Gaston is famous for game fish like largemouth bass, catfish, sunfish, crappie, rockfish, and striped bass. 

Although there is an increasing leech population in lake gaston, the suitable cultural activities, shopping, restaurants, fishing, boating, and various tournaments and annual events keep attracting people. However, Scoleciphobia individuals can get disturbed by leeches here.

#2 Lake Lanier

Lake Lanier, Georgia, USA
Perhaps stay inside your boat when you visit Lake Lanier, Georgia, USA

A widely distributed lake in Georgia, lake lanier has a surface area of 37,000 acres and is 156 feet deep.

This lake is the dwelling place for a large number of leeches. Although it is considered an ideal place for recreation, Scoleciphobic people avoid visiting here because of these leech species. Not all leech species here are dangerous, but some cause a disturbance, and therefore, people primarily avoid swimming.

On the other side, they are considered residents of lake lanier, and thus most people still go swimming here. These tiny creatures are somewhat creepy; therefore, it is better to keep your body safe from being sucked.

#3 Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan shoreline near Indiana Dunes National Park
Lake Michigan shoreline near Indiana Dunes National Park

Among five great lakes in the United States, Lake Michigan is also counted. Furthermore, among great lakes, by volume, it is the second biggest lake and the third most extensive by surface area. Due to the many amazing facts about lake Michigan, many people consider it one of the best places for their trip. 

Lake Michigan is home to various marine organisms, including a few leech species. The amount of leeches in this lake is less than in other lakes in the United States. Very few fish of lake Michigan have barnacles attached to them out of many that scientists examine yearly. 

However, in those areas of lake Michigan where the fish population is less, the number of bloodsuckers are more. 

Although the department of conservation have received few complaints from particular residents about the leech attached to their feet, no such extensive harm by leeches or infection by these creatures has been reported yet.

#4 Lake Erie

lakes with leeches
I’ll bet that these rocks are perfect spaces for leeches to live in!

Few species of leech are becoming more common around Lake Erie’s stagnant water. The uniqueness of leeches in lake Erie is that they can not swim and therefore live in the mud. They cause trouble to the anglers most of the time.  

When the water is shallow, the fish are near the bottom, and the leech problem becomes more troublesome at that time. Leeches get attached to the walleye to fulfill the requirement of blood meal. 

But they don’t harm walleye, and if a person eats such walleye on which once a leech has been attached for blood-sucking it doesn’t cause any disease in humans.

The species of leeches found in lake Erie are not yet confirmed. These segmented worms cause disease transmission in the lake Erie watershed. 

#5 Lake George

A few cases of leech bites have been reported at this lake.

Lake George is also famous as lake welaka. This shallow brackish lake is located in Florida, United States. This vast lake has a surface area of 46,000 acres. 

There are many marine organisms in Lake George, including leeches. These leech species inhabit it because it is a shallow freshwater lake. They are found under the rocks and at the bottom of lake George. 

Some cases of leech bites are reported here, which are somewhat alarming. Most people have experienced allergic reactions and shock, while others didn’t need medical care after removing the leech from the body.

If you ever visit lake George, keep an eye out for snakes that are present in the lake surroundings. 

Along with leeches, different aquatic worms, pouch snails, and midge flies are also seen in Lake George. People visit Lake George most commonly for fishing, boating, and hiking

#6 Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe, United States
Lake Tahoe, United States, is so gorgeous I would swim there even if there are leeches!

Lake Tahoe is one of the giant freshwater lakes in the Sierra Nevada hills. It is well reputed for ski resorts and beautiful beaches. In the crystal clear water of Tahoe lake, thousands of visitors come to enjoy swimming, fishing, boating, and scuba diving. 

Many leech species are homed by lake Tahoe; therefore, swimming is not much recommended here. The leeches in this lake are harmless, and no serious harm to humans by leeches in lake Tahoe has been confirmed yet. 

But still, these leeches are pesky, and that is the reason for not recommending swimming in this 1000 feet deep lake Tahoe.

Along with the bloodsuckers, three snake species are also reported in lake Tahoe. Therefore taking safety precautions while visiting here for fishing and swimming is essential.

#7 New Hampshire Lakes

A glimpse of Conway Lake, New Hampshire, USA
A glimpse of Conway Lake, New Hampshire, USA

In the United States, New Hampshire is home to about 1000 lakes. There are different ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams. The Hampshire lakes mostly freeze in winter. 

In most New Hampshire lakes, leeches are present. These leeches found in the New Hampshire lakes are primarily nocturnal and therefore are not seen at day times. In most cases, when someone swims in any of the New Hampshire lakes, these leeches get attached to their bodies. 

New Hampshire lakes’ water is pure and clean but is getting threatened by invasive species, runoff, polluted water, and climate change. There are a vast number of visitors to New Hampshire lakes each year. 

The northern bloodsucker is most common in the New Hampshire lakes. Most leeches here in New Hampshire like the blood of warm-blooded animals, including humans, and hence they get attached to the body of certain animals and humans to get the blood meal.

Bloodsuckers Other Than Leeches In United States Great Lakes

Aside from leeches, the great lakes of the United States also have other bloodsuckers such as lampreys. Although lampreys are dangerous, they mostly prefer cold blood and hence feed on fish. But sometimes, they can attach to the swimmers as well.

They caused great destruction to various fisheries in great lakes. In lake trout, lampreys reduced the population of cisco because they used to feed on them.

These bloodsuckers, the lampreys, actually belong in the ocean. They are invasive to the great lakes and cause harm to the ecosystem and local habitat.

Lampreys In Lake Champlain:

Lake Champlain, United States

The leeches are not only the organisms that suck blood from the animal’s body. There are various other bloodsuckers as well, like lampreys. 

Lake Champlain, known for being home to the oldest fossil reefs throughout the world, is a freshwater lake in North America within the United States border. Lake Champlain has abundant lampreys, which are vampires like leeches which means they suck blood. 

Lampreys are a fish species that have suckers within which teeth are present. These teeth help them in attachment to the host body. They lack jaws and should not be confused with eels. They came to Lake Champlain in the 1800s through the Hudson canal.

Lamprey’s bite is considered dangerous because it causes pain. Once someone becomes their prey, there is a considerable risk of developing certain infections that leeches do not drive.

Many ecologists suggest that these jawless vertebrates should be kept away from inland lakes by not building canals from great lakes toward inland lakes.

Role Of Leeches In Lake

Leeches might be irritating or scary, but they are important for the ecosystem to function

Like all other living organisms, leeches are also playing an essential role in the food chain. In many lakes, bloodsuckers are a part of the food web. They are parasites, vectors, prey, and predators of many parasites. They are not harmful like tropical leeches.

The leeches are crucial to the food chain and essential for the natural environment of lakes. They are native to the lakes, and hence native species are not dangerous as the invasive species are.

Leech species in lakes are considered troublesome by many people in swimming areas of lakes. But if leeches disappear from lakes, the food chain in the lakes will get seriously disturbed.

Leech Ideal Place In Lakes

Although it is said that the leeches live in the lakes, they do not occur throughout the lake. Instead, leeches inhabit the shallow water of lakes, rocks, and shorelines. 

They do not prefer deep water. Furthermore, leeches also occur in those regions inside the lake where weeds, submerged branches, and other organic debris occur for hiding or attachments.

Moreover, these flattened worms most frequently prefer the freshwater habitat. But it does not show that they do not live in saltwater. Some leech species live in salt water as well. 

How To Avoid Leeches In Lakes?

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There are specific ways and methods by which you can avoid leeches in the lakes. As already explained, leeches like to live in shallow water; therefore, swimming in shallow water is like inviting the freeloaders to suck the blood. 

But leeches are absent in deeper water, so swimming in deep water will keep you safe from these parasites.

  • Avoiding the shorelines also helps prevent the leech species from getting attached to the body.
  • Leeches are considered harmless because they have not caused severe issues to swimmers until now. Therefore no strict actions are taken by the lake management in the United States.
  • Bait trapping is also a helpful method to stop the leeches from getting stuck on the body.
  • On shorelines of lakes, the leeches appear most commonly under the stones, sticks, and other debris. Cleaning the shoreline by removing the organic debris will play a key role in reducing the number of leeches in the area.

What To Do If You Get A Leech?

While swimming in the lake or any other water bodies, if a leech gets on you by any chance, do not panic.

Look at the thinner end of the leech body. It is where the mouth of leech is present. When you find their mouth, place your finger on your skin near the leeches’ mouth. Slide the fingernail towards the leech mouth and push the mouth of the bloodsucker sideways. 

Do not push the leech directly from your body surface as its mouth parts can get stuck into your skin.

Once you remove the leech, disinfect that particular part of the skin and cover up the bite.

Final Thoughts:

After reading this write-up, you now have plenty of understanding about the seven most leech-infested lakes in the United States. 

Leech species are considered one of the prime parts of the aquatic food web. But most people feel creepy when these leeches get attached to their bodies while swimming and start sucking the blood. 

Not all leeches suck blood, and not all of them cause infection. The ideal place for leech species is shallow water and shorelines of freshwater. Therefore in most of the lakes, they are seen. They hide and attach to different organic debris in the lake like branches, weeds, etc. 

No one could imagine leeches stuck on their feet or legs and sucking out the blood. Therefore if you have a phobia of worms (like leeches), then it would be better for you not to visit these infested lakes, and if you go there, try to keep yourself away from swimming and going on the shorelines.

Not all animals in lakes are scary like leeches, take a look at our article on 10 Animals that Live in Lakes.

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