Female deer tick, palps slight spread revealing barbed chelicerae
Like mosquitoes, ticks are capable of detecting changes in CO2 concentration, and move steadily to areas with higher concentrations (you can use dry ice to lure in ticks and then trap them with a robot: video). To find a new host, ticks “quest,” climbing out to the end of plants where they wait with their long front legs stretched out, hoping for a host animal to walk, hop, trot, or fly by. Their front legs are long and tipped with tiny pinchers, capable of a vice-like grip for latching onto fur or feather (video). As the animal walks by the tick adeptly clasps onto the host (it decidedly does not wildly leap forth from the trees above, raining down on unsuspecting victims). The tick then seeks out a sheltered spot on the host’s body to feed (again, following CO2, ticks are more likely to feed closer to the mouth).
Ticks dig into the skin using two barbed harpoon like structures called chelicerae. They move these back and forth in a saw like motion before jabbing the gnarly barbed sword-like hypostome into the opening (video). The barbs help anchor the tick in place. But not wanting to risk being scratched off of a host, the tick also secretes a cementing compound that further ensures the tick stays put (link). Once firmly attached, enzymes in its saliva get to work, causing blood to pool near the tick’s mouth. With a little honeypot of blood, the tick easily and leisurely slurps up the blood. The tick will stay attached for roughly 3-5 days. before releasing an enzyme that breaks down the cement and allows the tick to detach.