Can you really get stung by a jellyfish in Indiana?

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Jellyfish are always a major concern for anyone going on vacation to the ocean, but it’s generally not something Hoosiers think about as they head to the lakes.

However, believe it or not, jellyfish do exist in Indiana. In fact, freshwater jellyfish have been observed in over 43 different water bodies in the state, according to the DNR.

The DNR says freshwater jellyfish are about the size of a quarter and look like little floating bags when they’re full grown. They’re visible with the naked eye and they surface in large numbers called blooms.

The IndyStar spoke with Dr. Terry Peard, a retired professor of science education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and expert on freshwater jellyfish.

Peard says Indiana and Michigan appear to be the two of the favorite places for freshwater jellyfish to congregate. They prefer calm, freshwater lakes, and reservoirs.

Now is the time of year to be on the lookout for them. Peard says August and September are peak months for jellyfish sightings because the lake water is warm and zooplankton, their main food source, is abundant.

So should you be worried? Peard says maybe: “Like true jellyfish, they do have stinging cells (cnidocytes). This mechanism is designed for feeding, as the cnidocytes are utilized to paralyze macroinvertebrates and even small fish. However, we have no “hard” evidence that these organisms can penetrate human skin (though some have claimed otherwise).”