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Tick Anatomy Lesson

January 28, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This tick is one of the largest I’ve ever encountered. I’m happy to say it was the only one I saw.

Ticks often wave around their forelegs while perched like this, hoping to grab on to some passing potential host.

When viewed from the side, there’s an interesting bit of anatomy exposed.

Side view (do you see the smaller mite bringing up the rear?)

I wondered about the purpose of that large hole on the tick’s side so I did some research. It’s called the spiracular plate, and it’s basically a tube into the tick’s breathing system. Calling it breathing might be a stretch though. It’s really more of a passive gas exchange. The shape of spiracular plates are also used by taxonomists as a way of distinguishing various types of ticks. read more

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