Living With High Blood Pressure


South African Bont Tick, Amblyomma hebraeum Photo: JMK

The South African Bont tick is a hard tick that transmits diseases to livestock (ruminants). During feeding, the tick has a rapid growth phase in which the cuticle expands to create a 10 fold larger volume. How does it do that?

The Bont tick is capable of generating some of the highest pressures measured for any animal. During expansion, the cuticle thins by half and is permanently deformed by about 40%. Like all arthropods, ticks have an exoskeleton made from protein and reinforced by strands of the polysaccharide chitin. The cuticle structure is resistant to tearing and deformation. Cuticle in which the proteins and chitin are not cross linked is more pliable and can expand. Some expansion is common in blood feeding insects as well as ticks. Hydraulic pressure may have a role in these expansions but the pressure is not as great.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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