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On the Wild Side: Strange news from the World of Wildlife!

Trickster Ticks

We may not like them they're bloodsuckers and carriers of disease but from top to bottom, inside and out, ticks are among the most cleverly designed creatures on the planet.

Let's start with the tick's legs, which end in sharp hooks that help it latch on to a host. Likewise, the tube a tick uses to suck blood is shaped like an anchor and reinforces the attachment between parasite and host. A further reinforcement is the gummy cement-like substance that the tick releases once it settles down for a meal.

But that's not all. While the tick sips blood, rather discreetly at first and then with more vigor, it pumps chemical-laden saliva into its host. The chemicals increase blood flow to the puncture site, prevent blood clots from forming there, and reduce the itchiness and swelling that would normally accompany a bite.

Click here to learn more about one common tick.

 

 

 

 

 

2007 eNature.com