The Anatomy of a Tick and How Permethrin Works on Them

Visit the Equip-4-Ticks Resource Center

“It's important to know a little bit about what makes up a tick. They may be a little bit more complicated than you see with your eye.”

- Dr. Thomas Mather, Tick Expert, University of Rhode Island Tick Encounter Resource Center

Ticks are not only annoying but can also be dangerous as they can transmit diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Understanding how ticks work and what makes them tick is crucial in preventing tick bites and the diseases they may carry. We’ll discuss the anatomy of a tick and how Permethrin works on them.

Anatomy of a Tick

The most important feature of a tick is the hypostome, which is a barbed feeding tube that the tick uses to attach to its host and feed on blood. The hypostome is protected by structures called palps, which are part of the tick's head capsule.

Ticks also have a shield-like structure on their bodies called the scutum. The scutum covers the entire body of male ticks, but in female ticks, it only covers the front third of the body. This is because female ticks need to engorge themselves with blood to lay eggs, and a scutum covering the entire body would prevent them from doing so. The scutum can also help identify a tick as each scutum is unique between the types of ticks.

As the tick feeds, it can also suck in germs. Those germs get stored in the midgut. As the tick feeds on a new host after collecting the germs, the germs get transferred from the midgut to the salivary glands, where the germs get spit out into its host. This is how a tick would transmit diseases such as Lyme Disease. 

Ticks also have spiracular plates, which is how a tick breathes. Tiny tubules allow oxygen to reach every organ in their bodies. This allows the tick to feed from its host and get oxygen at the same time.

Tick Diagram drawn by Dr. Thomas Mather from TickEncounter

How Permethrin Works on Ticks

Permethrin works by attacking the central nervous system of ticks. When a tick comes in contact with permethrin, the chemical quickly enters its body through its legs, causing the tick to become extremely excited. As the tick gets excited, it will eventually fall off the host. A good majority of ticks that come in contact with permethrin will also be killed as well. 

Permethrin can be applied to clothing, shoes, and gear to provide long-lasting protection against ticks. Permethrin is also available in pre-treated clothing for the whole family. It is important to note that permethrin should never be applied directly to the skin and was created to be sprayed on clothing and gear.

[Related Post: How to Safely Use Permethrin on Clothing]


Understanding the anatomy of a tick and how Permethrin works on them can help in preventing tick bites and the diseases they carry. By using Permethrin-treated clothing and gear, you can significantly reduce your chances of being bitten by ticks. Remember to always take precautions when venturing outdoors, and to do a tick check after spending time in tick-infested areas.


Explore tick repellent clothing & gear

Shop all tick repellent clothing

You may also like...