Published on November 1st, 2013
Here is the mysterious mechanism by which a tick eats (VIDEO)
A video captures a tick in full glory, while sucking the blood of a victim. The new material described in the journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society B”, reveals for the first time the method by which a tick attaches to the skin and insert their mouth-parts into the victim.
It appears that the parasites does not use techniques of cutting and drilling the skin to reach the target. Instead, they use a tube consisting of a pair of telescoping structures to penetrate the skin. Then, the creature in a motion like the breaststroke pulls the skin over a plate on their mouth that’s armed with barbs.
In contrast to the way in which mosquitoes feed, ticks remain attached to the host for several days or even weeks feeding on the blood until they are ready to lay eggs or to enter the next phase of their cycle.
“Mosquitoes and other such creatures are on the host for a short time. The tick has a different challenge, it remains on the host“, explained study co-author Dania Richter at Charité -Universitätsmedizin Berlin.
To remain attached discreetly they insert into the host analgesics, anticoagulants and anti-inflammatory substances. At the same time they are forced to anchor firmly on where they feed in order to not cause so much pain. Some ticks use some kind of adhesive to stick to the host, but the tick Ixodes ricinus has a different approach.
In the new study, scientists have captured a Ixodes ricinus tick while penetrating the ear of hairless euthanized mice. At the same time, they studied under a microscope the animals mouthparts and combined this information with those seen in the video.
Thus, scientists have confirmed that the animal uses a new and complicated approach to feed. First, ticks feels the skin using a pair of telescoping shafts equipped with a bundle of fingers armed with hooklike barbs called chelicerae. These chelicerae are retractable and can be bent. Thus, similarly to the movement of bending the elbow, the bundle bends backward in a series of breaststroke motions and make room for a harpoon-like structure which is called a hypostome. Once the hypostome penetrates the skin, the tick can feed freely.
Source: Business Insider