The mouth parts of the tick are essential to its survival and quite dangerous for humans. The outside portions of a tick’s mouth contain two moveable palps. It uses these palps to feel across the skin so that it can find the perfect spot. It then punctures the skin using a pair of telescoping shafts equipped with a bundle of fingers armed with hooklike barbs called chelicerae. This bundle of fingers can bend at the joint. Then, like arms bending at the elbows, the bundle bends backward in a series of breaststroke motions. The chelicerae open the skin for insertion of a harpoon-like structure with serrated edges — the hypostome.
Once the hypostome, along with the chelicerae, are inserted, the tick is ready to feed. Since the hypostome has projections that hook backward, the hypostome anchors the tick to the host. This is why the tick can be so hard to remove and why a tiny bit of flesh often exits the host along with the tick when it is removed.