Video: How Ticks Chain-Saw Into Your Skin To Suck Your Blood


Sometimes I appall myself. I know perfectly well what a huge health problem Lyme disease is, infecting 300,000 Americans a year at latest count. WBUR did a series on it; I’ve been reading every word of the excellent Boston Globe series now under way. And yet, I repeatedly fail to check myself after outdoor hikes that could expose me to the ticks that carry the disease, even though I also know that if the ticks are removed promptly, that prevents transmission of Lyme.

So I made myself watch the entire wonderfully grisly science video that The New York Times just posted: How Does A Tick Do Its Dirty Work? Research Video Offers A Clue.

It shows ticks using a proboscis-like appendage whose resemblance to a chainsaw seems quite timely on the eve of Halloween. And the text by James Gorman begins with this ghoulish lead:

Chain saws, hockey masks and the undead are all classic symbols of horror. But for a true shiver of dread, take a look at a tick.
When seen with an electron microscope, a tick’s mouth has what look like twin saws (chelicerae) flanking an appendage (a hypostome) that appears to be the kind of long, barbed sword that a villain in a video game might favor.

The Times also links to a paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society detailing those nefarious tick methods. Personally, I’m thinking the video alone will be enough to change my ways. Readers?
(H/T Tom Anthony)

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