3 Reasons Why Ticks Suck

[Intro] Ticks suck! They feast on blood, they spread
disease and they’re generally just… the worst. Ticks are members of the arachnid family,
marked by their eight legs and lack of body segments. With over 850 different species,
all with a vampire-like blood-lust, these ectoparasites make their living through hematophagy,
or blood-sucking, on whatever mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian they can creep up on. Their bodies tend to be small and flat, sometimes
no bigger than a sesame seed. They’re stealthy, hardy, and have a vice-like grip on their
hosts. Some species have even adapted to blend in with their host’s bodies, including one
that looks exactly like the scales of the komodo dragons that it feasts on. But, you know, part of what makes these guys
so sucky is also what makes them kind of interesting, namely that they have evolved a number of
exquisitely ingenious tricks to get their blood-eating job done. For example, ticks
can locate hosts by sensing their body heat, breath, body odors, moisture, or even vibrations. They’ll position themselves on a well-used
path, or in a burrow or den, and just hang out at the end of a blade of grass, waiting
for someone to walk by, often with their front pair of legs outstretched like they’re waiting
for a hug. It is a trick. It is not interested in hugging. This is sometimes called questing, which is
a pretty epic name for just sitting there, but when a deer, rabbit or toddler walks by,
the tick just climbs aboard. Its eight legs are each covered in spiny little hairs, punctuated
by a tiny claw at the end – all the better for grasping its host. Once it’s in position, a tick grabs the skin
and slices into it before inserting its feeding tube. Some ticks excrete a cement-like goo
that locks their mouth parts in place so that they can’t fall off until they’re done drinking.
And their saliva also has a type of anti-coagulant in it that keeps the host’s blood from clotting
so they can keep sucking it up. And if that wasn’t enough, many tick mouth-parts
contain fish hook-like barbs that point backward, making it harder to pull them out once they’ve
started breakfast. But aside from all that, an even better reason
to dislike ticks is their tendency to spread to disease. If a host has a blood-borne infection,
ticks will slurp up those pathogens with the blood and then transmit them to their next
host through their saliva. And the list of diseases ticks can spread is long and scary,
ranging from the now famous Lyme Disease to Colorado and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever,
Tularemia, Meningoencephalitis, African Tick Bite Fever, Tick Paralysis, and various other
horrors. Common symptoms of these ailments include
fever, headache, rashes, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue and, if left untreated, possibly problems
with the heart and nervous system and even temporary paralysis. But perhaps the most bizarre and possibly
permanent result of tick-bite is a severe allergy to red meat. Like, you’ll be eating
hamburger at a cookout, and all of the sudden it’s anaphylactic shock, swollen tongue, shortness
of breath, hives all over, and, “Oh god!” So, if you live in the South Eastern United
States, have been bitten by a tick or two, and can no longer enjoy beef, you can thank
the Lone Star tick for your change in diet. This tick’s saliva contains a sugar called
alpha-gal that’s found in certain types of meat, like beef, pork, and venison. Most mammals
make this sugar, but we primates don’t. Now, normally we can eat those meats without
harm, but when a Lone Star tick latches on to your skin, it injects a little of that
sugar directly into your blood, which causes your immune system to create antibodies to
fight the foreign sugar. And that’s all okay, until the next time you
eat a philly cheese steak, and your natural defenses start attacking that steak sugar
as if it were an enemy invader. It’s the first known example of allergy transmitted
through an animal bite, and the condition appears to be permanent…and untreatable.
This allergy also appears to be specific to mammalian meat – so if you’ve been bitten,
and still want to keep eating animals, poultry and fish are still fair game. But, no matter what your eating habits are,
keep a careful eye out for any kind of tick. You really don’t want their hugs. Thanks for watching this SciShow Dose. If
you’d like to keep exploring the world with us, just go to subbable.com/scishow to find
out how you can help. And don’t forget to go to youtube.com/scishow and subscribe.

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100 thoughts on “3 Reasons Why Ticks Suck

  1. But how are you supposed to correctly take out a tick if you wake up feeling something, and discovering a tick? You're tired, and you want that thing out right away…

    Yes this happened to me a few years ago… It was terrifying to see it in my skin, no longer moving… I just took a Kleenex by my bed and yanked it out. I guess I'm lucky it worked and nothing bad happened… Obviously it was a terrible experience since I remember it so vividly…

  2. The Lone Star Tick is why I am moving to the west coast.
    Also voice acting, but after the whole red meat thing, I think that takes priority #1. Never shall I stop eating Lamb.

  3. If accidental animal extinction is apparently so easy, surely we can purposely extinct something if we try…along with mosquitoes, thorn bushes and poison ivy

  4. My friend developed the meat allergy from the lone star tick, a year later with no tick bites he was able to handle meat again. Now 3 years later he can eat meat with no problem. Pretty messed up though.

  5. My stepmother has an allergy to beef, and eventually mammals.  She never knew where it came from and a lot of doctors she's seen hasn't heard of it.  I shared the video with her, thank you.

  6. Ticks can make me unable to eat hamburgers? Fuck that! Erase them. Drive them into extinction. I want them off my planet.

  7. I've never before actually thought about ticks, apart from like, maybe when I'm going camping. But thanks to Michael Aranda, I now have even more reasons to stay inside.

  8. SciShow – I like your program, it is very informative. Can I make one small request? Stop calling anaphylaxis, Anaphylactic shock. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction. Anaphylactic shock is a possibility but not always. Please stop using the definition of a severe allergic reaction to mean anaphylactic shock. Anaphylaxis is a process your body can go through if you have an interaction with anything your allergic too. The resulting shock to your system from continued exposure or untreated person is a possibility but they are not the same thing. Anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock are not the same thing please stop using one to mean the other. Thank you

  9. Idk if iwas bitten by a lone star tick it looked similar I'm scared if I'm gonna die or something and it was really hard to kill him though

  10. and what are ticks good for? A former colleage had this discussion and concluded that ticks should be extinguished. No animal eats them, they don't help any plant in any way he knows of and they are just a plaegue. Can we go tick hunting now?

  11. found out the hard way just how sneaky ticks can be too, i didnt even KNOW i was even bit till i discovered i had lyme disease and had the symptoms…

  12. OMG YOU REMEMBERED THE LONE STAR TICK! cries the most terrifying of all ticks. I need my hamburger!

    Oh and don't forget the bubezia (sp) parasite.

  13. on the subject of tick anyone ever get one latched to the back of their heads? It happened to me i had to go to the E.R. to get it's feeding tube out of my head i noticed it when playing my tablet(:I)

  14. I got Rocky Mountain spotted tick fever. Lasted 2 years and every month had to get blood taken and a shot.

  15. Went to the doctor the other day. He said he believes I have arthritis worsened by lime disease. Somehow I guess it fucks with my joints it something XD
    You have no idea what hell is until you're 19 years old and have the joints if an 80 year old man .-.

  16. Lime Disease is only temporary… is there an episode on that later on explaining that…or one that sadly says the opposite?…

  17. I had a tick in my scalp once, every time I tried getting it off I would lose it through my long hair. Another tick I had was in my bellybutton. If I could roast all the ticks in the world over a fire I would.

  18. why don't you get allergic reaction from eating red meat without the tick bite, does the sugar not get recognised as foreign if you eat it?

  19. I'm getting itchy! I don't want to go to bed either, cause i just saw one about dust mites and their shit.

  20. If you get bitten by a tick, save the tick! It will help the doctors diagnose you if you get some sort of disease from it.

  21. this has been one of his sassiest videos yet, imo
    I fucking hate ticks UGh just thinking of them gets me so itchy and grossed out

  22. Would it be possible to do a show on the conflict surrounding long-term or "chronic" Lyme and co-infections? The "medical establishment" does not think it exists, but thousands of people around the world, especially in North America, have horrible lives because of it. I'd like to know the take of your researchers, and it would be great to have an intro video for those new to the topic.

  23. I hate ticks. I just discovered my dog had some of those suckers, it has been treated by a veterinarian and is at my mom's house now. But now I'm thinking to burn my house since it's very difficult to get rid of those ticks and I hate them so much!!!

  24. They made people allergic to RED MEAT? Wtf, the universe was very angry of humanity when it creates this beast from hell

  25. Maybe we could find something that only parasites are vulnerable to, and spray it all over the world. Get rid of Ticks, Fleas, Mosquitoes, and any other blood sucker. Fix the whole world's parasite problem.

  26. the "come closer please" tick picture, i'm pretty sure that was on me yesterday GROSS!!!! I stopped counting at 9 ticks, most of which were found in my hair (unusually thick, very long,  perfect hiding place.) But the others were found on clothing/surfaces that touched my head and shoulders. Knew I shouldn't have gone hiking after my dentist appointment. To make matters worse the standards, according to my general practitioner have changed this year. If the tick isn't attached or engorged he won't prescribe a preventative dose of doxycycline.

    I would argue that the number ticks plus the bite location in question being behind my ear where there's a lot of blood vessels nullify the standard because I'm pretty sure that was written for a single tick bite/single tick sighting, more ticks=higher odds of getting bitten+higher odds of getting lyme. In the end I had to threaten to go sit in his office the next morning until he listened to his patient's unease at the situation and prescribe the god damned horsepills.

  27. The long star tick.. i had one on me before… i was crawling on my arm. Thank god i flicked it off

  28. one some of these little bastards bite my face up my balls up my toes up and the back of my leag and no I do not go outside bare foot

  29. I rember holding one while it was drinking my cats blood asking my mom " what is This" she pulled it out and started screaming and killed it by smashing it with a bottle of bleach…I wasn't able to hold my cat for a mouth…

  30. Would've been nice if they got into Lyme disease a bit more, a lot of people I know have it, don't remember getting bitten by a tick, got false negatives on Lyme disease tests, etc. It's kinda a mess to get into, but it would've been nice. A lot of people have it without realizing

  31. words cannot even describe how much i hate ticks,like if you dont get em' out right they give you diesese (*boo they told that in the video*)
    protip:dont pull the tick outright,twist them counter-clockwise as to unlach their hooks

  32. I Have a DEATHLY Fear Of bugs so for my class field trip today we went in the woods and guess what? I saw like a hundred I’m traumatized

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