Ticks live on blood. Getting ticks detached from us as quickly as possible is the best way to avoid being infected by the diseases they carry. Ticks extract blood, and they spread pathogens from their salivary glands into the wound they’ve sliced with their small claws and penetrated with their mouths. If left to its own devices, a tick may suck our blood for up to a week at a time. If the tick doesn’t have a host with blood to suck it will die. Each of the three stages of a tick’s life—larva, nymph, and adult—needs blood meals.
Ticks have no eyes. They have sensors on the tips of their front legs, which enable them to detect from as far away as a few yards the heat given off by warm-blooded animals and the molecules of carbon dioxide exhaled by mammals. When a mammal is close enough, the claws on the tick’s two front legs hook on to the mammal. Ticks are arachnids with eight legs. They are in the family of spiders, scorpions, and mites.
Once the tick is on the host, it uses two claws to make the incision and goes in using its barbs. After it secures its hold on the host, the tick secretes a substance from its mouth, which glues it to the host and dissolves days later when the tick is sated and ready to drop off. Tick saliva also contains an anticoagulant to keep a host’s blood flowing.
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