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Tick Says Hello from Inside a Scanning Electron Microscope

Tick: it takes a licking, and keeps on ... well, ticking, I suppose.

A Japanese researcher found out by accident how hardy ticks can be: they survive being stuffed in a vacuum and bombarded by electrons inside a scanning electron microscope:

Yasuhito Ishigaki from Kanazawa Medical University discovered the tick’s extreme endurance by accident, when he found the animals inside drying chambers, connected to a vacuum pump. Even after 30 minutes with most of the air around them sucked away, the ticks survived.

So Ishigaki put 20 live ticks (Haemaphysalis flava) in his SEM. He didn’t prepare them in any specific way, save for softly pasting them onto some conductive tape. He didn’t bother with any metal coating, since he knew that people have successfully looked at dead ticks under SEM without such coats.

The animals lived. All of them waved their legs. That’s a clear sign of life, since dead ticks fold their legs tightly against their bodies. Clearer still, they got up and walked away after Ishigaki removed them from the microscope.

They come out yelling "Spoon!" of course: Link


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