Learn About the Dangers of Getting Bit By a Tick & How to Prevent it
Painless yet detrimental, a tick’s bite is not something you want to experience.
However, with tick activity at an all-time high, precautions must be taken if you don’t want to end up their next victim.
The way a tick bites is almost like something out of a silent horror movie. Recent research has given us, perhaps, too much of a vivid window into how the tick gets underneathe skin.
Once a tick has latched onto its prey, the tick crawls and climbs until it finds the place where it would like to stay and feed. Ticks prefer to hide away in dark, damp places that provide moisture (under arms, in hair, or in the groin area).
A tick’s mouth is set up like an intense drilling machine. Covered in small hooks, its mouthpiece is made up of two parts: the hypostome, which is a series of jagged hooks resembling a chainsaw, and the chelicerae, two long pole-like figures with hooks on the end (this piece covers the hypostome when not feeding).
A tick bite begins by the parasite using its chelicerae to dig into the skin. The two rods start off alternating strokes until they have enough bearings within the skin to push through in sync. With each push of the chelicerae, the hypostome is also drilled deeper into the skin until the full mouthpiece is submerged.
This process takes only a few minutes to occur, and once it’s mouth has fully lodged, the tick is secure within your skin. It’ll take more than a simple brush or flick to get this guy (or girl) off.
With the full mouth submerged the tick now begins to feed. Ticks meals are not quickly achieved like other blood sucking insects. In fact, depending on the age of the tick, it may feed on a host from several hours to several weeks! During this time, saliva is also swapped among the tick and its host.
The swapping of saliva is where diseases are transferred if the tick is infected. Once the tick has bitten its host, it takes about 36 to 48 hours for the parasites that the tick carries to reach the host’s blood. Therefore, if a tick is found and removed before that length of time has occurred, the likelihood of disease occurring is very unlikely.
Once the tick has had its fill, the tick detaches itself and falls off, moving on to live in the shadows until it is time to feed again.
Check out this video from NPR to see a more in-depth look at a tick’s bite: