Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 1091-1108

First online:

Chemically mediated behavior in Acari: Adapations for finding hosts and mates

  • Daniel E. SonenshineAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University
  • , Demar TaylorAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University
  • , Keith A. CarsonAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University

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Ticks and mites respond to a limited spectrum of stimuli in their search for hosts and mates. Airborne chemical signals include carbon dioxide, ammonia, organic acids, terpenoids, 2,6-dichlorophenol, and other phenolic compounds. These are detected primarily by sensilla in and adjacent to Haller's organ. Most ixodid species examined have one or more multiporose sensilla that detect such volatiles. These olfactoreceptors enable the ticks to respond to remote volatile chemicals from hosts and from the other ticks, e.g., sex pheromones. Other sensilla, probably mechanogustatory in function, also occur on the tarsi. Gustatory sensilla on the palps detect assembly pheromones that enable ticks and mites to respond to conspecific or heterospecific chemical stimuli in their environment. Responses to those stimuli in ticks result in clustering, i.e., arrestant behavior. Arrestant behavior also occurs in certain mites. Finally, cheliceral chemosensilla enable ticks to recognize specific phagostimulants in host blood, e.g., ATP and glutathione, that stimulate feeding. InDennacentor variabilis andD. andersoni, these same cheliceral chemosensilla recognize species-specific genital sex pheromones in the vulvae of conspecific mates, without which they do not copulate.

Key words

Dermacentor variabilis Dermacentor andersoni Amblyomma spp semiochemicals behavior sensilla Mailer's organ phenols genital sex pheromone 2,6-dichlorophenol