How Do Ticks Dig Their Hooks In and Hang on So Tight?

The snow is finally melting here in the Twin Cities and the ticks are ready to come out. Even if it still seems to be warming up slowly, it actually doesn’t need to be that warm for ticks to be comfortable. As long as it’s above freezing and the ground isn’t covered in snow they are out. So as you are beginning to think about the protective gear and sprays you will need when going on your outdoor adventures, we want to share a little information about how a tick digs in and hangs on to take a blood meal. And “hooks” is a truly appropriate descriptor.

Ticks are Intricately Engineered for Survival

A tick’s mouth is created with the entire purpose of digging in and holding on. That is because during the tick’s life cycle it will only take 4 blood meals. That being the case the meals need to be large ones. When a tick latches on, its goal is to stay attached and feed for up to 10 days.

So how does a tick embed itself for such a long ride? 
A tick digs into the skin with two hooks that are like hands, with 3 hook-like fingers. They work their way into the skin to pull it apart. Then enters the hypostome. It looks more like a chainsaw, also with hooks. It goes through the opening and the hooks on its end anchor the tick to its host. A compound in the tick’s saliva now thins the host’s blood so that it pools underneath the skin. The tick can sip blood as if through a straw until it’s completely engorged, just like it is leisurely sipping a drink by the pool.

Watch this amazing video to see what this really looks like.

In a geeky sense, this is really cool. But in the sense of all the yucky diseases that ticks can carry it isn’t at all!

At Mosquito Squad of Twin Cities, we’d rather see you rid your yard of any ticks and avoid them having the chance to dig in and spread Lyme or any of the other diseases they can carry. It’s time to start putting out tick tubes and misting that first barrier treatment. Remember… don’t wait until you think it’s warm enough because it is already warm enough. Call us today! 

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