Halloween brought the blood-feeding ghouls and vampires out onto the streets last night. None were more fearsome that the black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapularis) that Neptune the Tick-Gathering Cat brought in. I tweaked an engorged tick off his neck, only to find that I had interrupted an acarine love-fest.
The female feeds and swells with blood, while the male wanders over her adoringly and finally inserts a small sperm packet into a pore. For their libidinous sins, they burned in the fires of hell: not wanting dozens of baby ticks in a few months, I tossed them in the wood-stove.
Later, Junebug the Hound brought in a female of the same species that had not yet fed. The difference is fearsome; these ticks actually grow new skin to accommodate their meals.