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How ticks get under your skin

A close look at a tick’s mouthparts reveals enviable burrowing tools

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12:36pm, November 1, 2013

RATCHET AND PULL  A close look at how a tick uses its mouth to saw through skin and hang on to a host for up to a week may inspire engineers to mimic the method.

A new look at a tick’s mouthparts shows how the arachnid saws its way through skin and hangs on for up to a week. The castor bean tick Ixodes ricinus, a European species that carries Lyme disease, faces an engineering problem: Its needlelike mouthparts are good at piercing but useless for hanging on during long periods of feeding. And unlike some ticks, this species does not make a cement to anchor itself to its host.

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