Have you ever wondered why ticks seem to have such a strong grip on you when they’ve attached to your skin? NPR recently published a video that shows the entire process and it’s amazing.
The mouth of a tick is a perfectly engineered weapon for feeding. Let’s not forget that ticks can live up to 3 years but within that 3 year period they will only have 3 meals. That means they have to make them count if they are going to move on to the next life stage. Dania Richter, a biologist at the Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany, says that an adult female tick can increase its weight by 200 times when taking a blood meal. A meal that big you’ve got to hang on to it.
How Does the Female Tick Do It?
First, she takes two sets of hooks, that each look like a hand with three hook fingers, and she sort of pries your skin open. Next, a part of the mouth called the hypostome pushes its way into the gap the hooks created. It’s kind of stubby also with hooks on the end so that it resembles a chainsaw digging its way in deeper.
Once attached, there are compounds in the tick’s saliva that help to pool blood under the surface. Then the tick just slowly sips until it becomes engorged and falls off. However, you don’t really want a tick to remain on you that long. Disease such as Lyme is carried within the body of the tick and it takes approximately 24 hours for the pathogens to transfer from the tick to its host. So you want to find the tick and remove it as soon as possible, but you need to do it properly.
How To Remove a Tick
Now that you know the reason you can’t simply flick a tick off of you is that it truly has its “hooks” in you, you need to know how to properly remove it. Light a match? NO! Coat it with vaseline? NO! Safe tick removal is actually very simple, you just need to pull it off. Take a small pair of tweezers and get as close to the skin as possible. Then pull straight up. No twisting or jerking, but a firm pull. Be aware that you may actually leave some of these mouthpieces in the skin, but they do not carry the disease on their own and will work themselves out eventually.
Do you find all of this fascinating or disgusting? Maybe a little of both? Interesting or not, I imagine you don’t want any tick getting its hooks into you. At Mosquito Squad of Southeastern Mass we don’t want that either. Instead, we would like to help keep them out of your yard altogether.
Our barrier spray and tick tube systems will significantly reduce ticks in your yard. Have more questions about tick control? We’d love to hear from you. Call us today!