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Planet Earth

Dog's Ticks Sex Pix

By Josie GlausiuszJuly 1, 2000 5:00 AM


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Connubial bliss for this pair of dog ticks was a complicated affair. The sprawling brown female, bloated from a blood meal, and her wee green mate were extracted from the skin of a Canadian shepherd and captured under an electron microscope by photographer Volker Steger. They are caught in the midst of a series of rarely seen mating maneuvers. Here, the male inserts its mouth parts into the female's sexual opening to sniff out crucial pheromones. Normally, he would then withdraw, disgorge a spermatophore—a bubble full of sperm—and edge it, with the aid of the same mouth parts, into the female’s sexual pore. The female tick then plummets to the ground, lays her eggs, and dies. "This may be the first electron microscope picture of dog ticks mating," Steger says.

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