Microscopic Chainsaw Massacre!

A little late for Halloween, but horrifyingly fascinating nonetheless, I present to you the mouthparts of a tick!

This morning I happened to discover a recently-published paper on the mechanics of how ticks feed, entitled “How ticks get under your skin: insertion mechanics of the feeding apparatus of Ixodes ricinus ticks” by Richter et al. Giving in to curiosity, I discovered just how terrifying ticks actually look up close. Check that thing out:

Hi there! I just want to stab this thing into your flesh so that I can feed on you for a bit. Hope that is not going to be a problem? You will probably not even notice, so no worries.

This is why ticks are so difficult to remove. The barbs make it challenging to pull the mouthparts out. Contrary to what you may have heard growing up, however, the best way to remove them is to use a pair of forceps or tweezers to grip them and pull straight out. The sooner the better. Do not try to burn them or attempt to suffocate them with paint or nail polish, and be careful to avoid twisting or turning them when you pull them out. That is likely to cause the mouthparts to break off in your skin.

Anyhow, just a little something interesting for your Monday morning. Enjoy!

Category(s): Entomology

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