Why Ticks Are So Hard To Kill
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Why Ticks Are So Hard To Kill

Benji Jones: In the summer of 2019, a bull was found dead on
a farm in North Carolina. Dead by exsanguination. Which means it was drained of blood. The culprit wasn’t real-life vampires, but something just as frightening: an army of more than 1,000
Asian longhorned ticks. But here’s the thing. As scary as that sounds, Asian longhorns are just one of about 90 tick species found in the US. All of them suck blood, all
of them can carry disease, and all of them are
incredibly difficult to kill. The Asian longhorned tick
is truly a villainous pest. Not only is it an invasive species, but it can also clone
itself over and over again. Since it was first reported in 2017, it’s crawled its way to
at least 12 other states. Including where we are here, New York. Danielle Tufts: OK, so this is an adult. This looks like the Asian
longhorned tick to me. Jones: So this the infamous Asian longhorn tick?
Tufts: Yep. Jones: That’s Danielle Tufts, a disease ecologist at
Columbia University. She’s studying ticks in Staten Island to figure out what diseases they carry. But first, she has to collect them. Tufts: So, this is what
we call a drag cloth, and it’s a meter by
meter, so a meter squared. And basically what we would do is we just walk at a nice, even, slow pace and drag this right behind us. And we’ll stop every
about 20 meters or so, and we’ll flip the cloth over, and we’ll look for whatever
ticks are on the backside. Jones: Contrary to what
many people believe, ticks don’t actively seek you out. Tufts: Ah, so here’s a tick right here. Jones: Tick spotted! So many ticks in this forest.
Tufts: Oh, yeah. This is a very ticky forest. Jones: And they’re definitely not jumping on you from trees. In fact, ticks can’t even jump. They’re actually more like opportunists who take what they can get. Tufts: Ticks are what we
call sit-and-wait predators, where they climb up to the
top of the blades of grass and they put their arms out. And at the top of their arms
they have little sticky pads. And those pads will get attracted to this. And this is how they
get stuck on your pants or on other animals in the wild as well. Jones: And what do you call the, like, when they stick their hands up like this? Tufts: We call that
questing or host-seeking. Jones: Yeah, ticks are
literally on a quest for blood! And they’ve mastered the
art of extracting it, all without getting caught. After a tick crawls onto you, it sneaks into a concealed
crevice, like your armpit. And after that, it uses two
horrifying hooklike structures to tear into your flesh
and keep from falling off. Then, they insert what
is basically a straw covered in spikes, like
a piece of barbed wire, which makes them even harder to remove. And this sounds like it would hurt, a lot. But ticks have another
trick up their sleeve, or rather their mouth. Saliva. It’s a tick’s ultimate
weapon to avoid detection. It contains pain-numbing properties, so you don’t notice them even as they stab and rip your flesh. Plus, it suppresses your immune system, so the wound is less
likely to get red or itchy. That’s why ticks can stay
in you undetected for days, even as they grow to several
times their normal size. And if you do find a tick
in time to get it off, it won’t die easily. Tufts says that ticks can survive for as long as two years
without a blood meal. And they’re also masters of the elements. They can tolerate long periods of drought, and some species can survive underwater for two to three days. So, yeah, flushing them
down the toilet or sink likely won’t kill them. Tufts: If you put them
in the sink, sometimes they’ll crawl back out of the sink. Jones: Now, all of this
wouldn’t be such a big problem if it weren’t for the diseases they carry. In the US alone, they transmit at least
16 diseases to humans. That’s more than any other
insect, including mosquitoes. Lyme disease alone, for example, infects an estimated
300,000 Americans each year. And it’s only getting worse. In 2004, there were about 23,000
cases of tick-borne disease reported to the CDC. But by 2017, that number had almost
tripled to nearly 60,000. But what isn’t clear is why. Why ticks and the diseases
they carry are spreading. Though Tufts and other scientists say that climate change is
at least partly to blame. Tufts: We’ve been having
pretty mild winters, which can promote survival, overwintering survival of
hosts and of the vectors, which also will lead to new expansion. Jones: Whatever the reason,
there are tons of ticks. Pretty much everywhere. So, the next time you go for a hike, keep these tips in mind. Stay on the trails, where ticks
are less likely to hang out. Wear bug spray; preferably
something with DEET. Tuck your pants into your socks, so nothing can crawl onto your legs. Wear light clothes, so
anything that does get on you is easy to spot. And, of course, always do a tick check once you’re out of the woods. All right, so we’re gonna do a tick check, which you recommend doing
after you get out of the woods. Tufts: Absolutely. Jones: So, crevices… Tufts: What you want to
look for is on your pants. I wear rubber boots, so that
they don’t crawl up there. But, like, for here, my pants, any of these little crevices
along here, I would look for. Jones: I mean, I feel like those
little guys are definitely, like, the larvae form are
definitely on me, right? Somewhere. Tufts: Maybe, maybe not. And then you want to check
up around your belt region. Jones: This is, like, not safe for work. Tufts: It’s also good when
you are hiking with a friend to check each other. So, for instance, I would check your back. Jones: I feel like we’re like
chimpanzees or something. Tufts: Yeah, grooming behavior. So, you want to check
all along the sleeves, on anywhere on the back.
Jones: So really, like, on top of clothing? Like, you don’t need to, like, strip down? Tufts: No, no, you can strip
down later in the shower. Jones: Great.

100 thoughts on “Why Ticks Are So Hard To Kill

  1. I once scratched my back and found a tick. I was so fricking scared cause I've never seen a tick real life because there are no tick in North East.

  2. There was a tick in my classroom!!! It crawled on me and almost reached my armpit and I ran out of class. I go to school in NYC!! I freaked out.

  3. humans travelling very long distances must be the reason that tics spread so fast
    when i grew up, tics did only exist in small areas of the country, and we never had one tic biting us on our summerhouse
    now it is common in the whole country even the parts that is as cold as northern USA
    and i can not go even for a 100 meter walk in nature without having one tic climbing on board me

  4. I got bit by a tick a few months ago and almost bit again, and im good but its because it didnt have the disease. It didnt hurt to much when it got pulled out. But it can be a few years before the disease actually shows signs so

  5. When I remove ticks from my dog, I immediately crush them with a rock. Some of these bastards survive even that, so I wait until I hear a pop sound when crushing them.

  6. Premetherin. Spray it on your camping material, spray it on your outdoor furniture. Spray it on anything that you won’t directly touch right away. It kills them and prevents them from infesting an area

  7. I had Lyme once, and this is gonna be a long story, but it's personal and it would be amazing if even one person would read this.

    One day half my face just didn't work and I had constant pain in my ear. The doctors said I was cured after some treatment, but it returned a couple years later, and that's when the worst part began.

    My blood vessels didn't really work along with all the needles the doctors put in, so I needed a special thing close to my heart to give me some sweet sweet medicine. It failed the first time and they corrected it WITHOUT anaesthesia! It was the most painful thing I ever experienced in my life, and I've been through some shit. I went to school with one of those things on my chest a couple days later and a doctor would come to my house every morning to give me medicine while I was playing Wii sports (best game ever). They checked if I had any brain damage earlier and all was well. I was cured (I think), but I'm still afraid that Lyme is somehow still inside of me because of the first time they said I was "cured". Later, that hospital was rated as best of the country, totally ignoring the times had my blood taken for no reason, not being cured when they said I was and putting me through needless pain. Quite a shitshow, isn't it?

  8. What about fire? Fire kills everything. Heat kills everything. Just throw them In a house size incinerator. For hours. I'm sure It can't survive that. That's why hell Is made of fire.

  9. She's GIVING AN IN-DEPTH explanation about the spreading of these little creatures -editor proceeds to cut out the audio "..ehh… Whatever the reason, TICKS."
    Seriously, if this was serious (which it is don't get me wrong) make it sounds serious instead of cutting their voice out. nothing is a straight answer and its pisstaking when videos who claim to be a know at all actually know jack shit. It's great that you got to talk to these researches, but cmon. Show them some respect instead of trying to make a quick buck out of them on YouTube.

  10. Aw i didnt think when i was like 12 or 10 year i usually squash them with my ballpen mostly those really fat really fat tick!

  11. I remember our dog having a big ass tick on the back of his neck, I noticed it but i didn't think it was a freaking tick

  12. I like to take them off my dog and put them all in a napkin then I dip the napkin in oil and I light it on fire 🔥
    And enjoy hearing their bodies pop under the flames and it sets an example for their entire species to back off my dog

  13. 🎵🎼🎼🎶 I know of a place where you never get harmed
    A magical place with magical charms

  14. Buddy of mine here in Texas, he’s an Eagle Scout, had a tick on him. He took it out, put it in his sink, and burnt it to death

  15. we as humans have tough skin so it should take ticks quite some time to stick their heads where they dont belong

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