, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 93-101

Improvement of field sampling methods for adult Karoo paralysis ticks, Ixodes rubicundus (Acari: Ixodidae), through addition of host odour

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Abstract

The responsiveness of Ixodes rubicundus ticks on questing substrates and the success of their attachment to non-living substrates were investigated. The purpose of this study was to relate responsiveness to conditions of temperature and humidity, to compare the efficacy of flagging and dragging methods to estimate the size of populations of adult I. rubicundus in the field, and to determine the possible influence of host odour on the efficacy of these methods. Responsiveness was tested under varying conditions of temperature and humidity under field conditions, and the same ticks were used to determine the duration of attachment to a flannel cloth, either impregnated with host odour from sheep wool or without it. Flagging and dragging methods were compared under laboratory conditions with cloths either treated with host odour or not. Within the range of ambient temperatures recorded during this study (7–25°C) most of the ticks (86%) were responsive. No obvious relationship between temperature, relative humidity and responsiveness of ticks was evident. Ticks remained on average 32.9 seconds (n=64) on cloth treated with host odour compared to 9.1 seconds (n=54) on untreated cloth. Flagging was 1.5–1.7 times as effective as dragging and treatment of the cloths with host odour increased the efficacy 2.4 (dragging) to 2.8 (flagging) times. The reactions of ticks to external stimuli should, therefore, be taken into account to maximize field sampling success.