Experimental & Applied Acarology

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 215–236 | Cite as

Survival and behaviour of unfed stages of the ticksRhipicephalus appendiculatus, Boophilus decoloratus andB. microplus under field conditions in Zimbabwe

  • N. J. Short
  • R. B. Floyd
  • R. A. I. Norval
  • R. W. Sutherst


The survival and behaviour of the unfed stages ofRhipicephalus appendiculatus, Boophilus decoloratus andB. microplus in gauze columns were observed in long and short grass in the highveld of Zimbabwe. Ticks were exposed in the cool, hot and rainy seasons of 1980 and 1981. All species and stages survived longer in long grass than in short grass. Larvae from engorged female ticks released in the cool season hatched much later than incubator-reared controls. They were consequently not present during the cold weather and survived longer than larvae subjected to the low temperatures, in which the shortest survival-times were recorded. The survival of nymphs was insensitive to season. The longest survival-times were recorded in adults. Median survival-times of incubator-reared adults ranged from 165 to 375 days in short grass and from 333 to 493 days in long grass. These times were usually longer than those for adults which moulted in the field. Larvae of the three species and nymphs ofR. appendiculatus were active soon after hatching or moulting, irrespective of the season. In contrast, adults ofR. appendiculatus showed different patterns of activity in different seasons. Adults first appeared at the base of the columns in October/November and then gradually ascended to reach a maximum height in December/January. They remained high up in the columns until May/June when the weather became increasingly cold and dry. Larvae ofB. decoloratus climbed higher up in the columns in the long grass than did the larvae of the other two species.

Larvae and nymphs ofR. appendiculatus and larvae ofB. microplus migrated up and down the columns daily, but larvae ofB. decoloratus and adults ofR. appendiculatus did not migrate.


Rainy Season Field Condition Maximum Height Cold Weather Cool Season 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bishop, F.C., 1932. The cattle tick, its biology and control. Abstract of Ph.D. Thesis (Ohio State Univ. Press.)Google Scholar
  2. Branagan, D., 1973a. Observations on the development and survival of the ixodid tickRhipicephalus appendiculatus Neumann, 1901, under quasi-natural conditions in Kenya. Trop. Anim. Health Prod., 5: 153–165.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Branagan, D., 1973b. The developmental periods of the ixodid tickRhipicephalus appendiculatus Neum. under laboratory conditions. Bull. Entomol. Res., 63: 155–168.Google Scholar
  4. Browning, T.O., 1976. The aggregation of questing ticks,Rhipicephalus pulchellus, on grass stems, with observations onRhipicephalus appendiculatus. Physiol. Entomol., 1: 107–114.Google Scholar
  5. Chiera, J. and Punyua, D.K., 1983. Survival pattern ofRhipicephalus appendiculatus of differing sizes under semi-natural conditions. ICIPE, 11th Annual Report, pp. 34–37.Google Scholar
  6. Floyd, R.B., Maywald, G.F. and Sutherst, R.W., 1987a. Ecological models: II. A population model ofRhipicephalus appendiculatus, In: R.W. Sutherst (Editor), Ecology and Epidemiology of Ticks and Tick Borne Diseases. ACIAR Proc. Ser. No. 17, pp. 72–75.Google Scholar
  7. Floyd, R.B., Sutherst, R.W. and Maywald, G.F., 1987b. Modelling tick management. III. Designing control strategies forRhipicephalus appendiculatus using T3HOST. In: R.N. Sutherst (Editor), Ecology and Epidemiology of Ticks and Tick Borne Diseases. ACIAR Proc. Ser. No. 17, pp. 141–144.Google Scholar
  8. Goldsmid, J.M., 1967. Observations on the behaviour of the blue tick,Boophilus decoloratus (Koch) (Acarina: Ixodidae). J. Entomol. Soc. S. Afr., 29: 74–89.Google Scholar
  9. Gothe, R., 1967. Investigations into the cold resistance of the eggs and larvae ofBoophilus decoloratus (Koch, 1844),Boophilus microplus (Canestrini, 1888) andMargaropus wintheri Karsch, 1879. Onderstepoort J. Vet. Res., 34: 109–128.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Howell, C.J., Walker, J.B. and Nevill, E.M., 1978. Ticks, mites and insects infesting animals in South Africa. Part I. Descriptions and biology. Sci. Bull. No. 393, Gov. Printer, Pretoria, S. Africa, 69 pp.Google Scholar
  11. Jooste, K.F., 1966. A two year study of the seasonal occurrence of adult ticks on a herd of Red Poll cows. Rhod. Agric. J., 63: 97–99.Google Scholar
  12. Londt, J.G.H. and Whitehead, G.B., 1972. Ecological studies of larval ticks in South Africa (Acarina: Ixodidae). Parasitology, 65: 469–490.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Mason, C.A. and Norval, R.A.I., 1980. The ticks of Zimbabwe. I. The genusBoophilus. Zimbabwe Vet. J., 11: 36–43.Google Scholar
  14. Matson, B.A. and Norval, R.A.I., 1977. The seasonal occurrence of adult ixodid ticks on cattle on a Rhodesian highveld farm. Rhod. Vet. J., 8: 2–6.Google Scholar
  15. Newson, R.M., Chiera, J.W., Young, A.S., Dolan, T.T., Cunningham, M.P. and Radley, J.E., 1984. Survival ofRhipicephalus appendiculatus (Acarina: Ixodidae) and persistence ofTheileria parva (Apicomplexa: Theileriidae) in the field. Int. J. Parasitol., 14: 483–489.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Norval, R.A.I., 1977. Tick problems in relation to land utilisation in Rhodesia. Rhod. Vet. J., 8: 33–38.Google Scholar
  17. Norval, R.A.I. and Short, N.J., 1979. Seasonal occurrence of larvae of four species of ixodid ticks in the highveld of Zimbabwe. Rhod. Vet. J., 10: 88–91.Google Scholar
  18. Owen, I.L., 1975. Survival of the non-parasitic stages of the cattle tick,Boophilus microplus under simulated field conditions in Papua New Guinea. Aust. J. Zool., 23: 219–223.Google Scholar
  19. Punyua, D.K. and Newson, R.M., 1979. Diurnal activity behaviour ofRhipicephalus appendiculatus in the field. In: J.G. Rodriguez (Editor), Recent Advances in Acarology, Vol. 1. Academic, London, pp. 441–445.Google Scholar
  20. Punyua, D.K., Newson, R.M. and Mutinga, M.J., 1985. Diurnal and seasonal activity of unfed adultRhipicephalus appendiculatus (Acarina: Ixodidae) in relation to some intrinsic and extrinsic factors-1. Factors regulating activity. Insect Sci. Appl. 6: 63–70.Google Scholar
  21. Robertson, W.D., 1981. A four year study of the seasonal fluctuations in the occurence of the blue tickBoophilus decoloratus (Koch) in the coastal regions of the eastern Cape. In: G.B. Whitehead and J.D. Gibson (Editors), Proc. Int. Conf. on Tick Biological Control, 27–29 January 1981, Grahamstown, South Africa. Tick Research Unit, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, pp. 199–204.Google Scholar
  22. Short, N.J. and Norval, R.A.I., 1981. The seasonal activity ofRhipicephalus appendiculatus Neumann, 1901 (Acarinia: Ixodidae) in the highveld of Zimbabwe. Rhod. J. Parasitol., 57: 77–84.Google Scholar
  23. Short, N.J., Floyd, R.B., Norval, R.A.I. and Sutherst, R.W., 1989. Development rates, fecundity and survival of developmental stages of the ticksRhipicephalus appendiculatus, Boophilus decoloratus andB. microplus under field conditions in Zimbabwe. Exp. Appl. Acarol., 6: 123–141.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Sutherst, R.W., Wharton, R.H. and Utech, K.B.W., 1978a. Guide to Studies on Tick Ecology. Div. Entomology, CSIRO, Aust. Tech. Pap. No. 14, 59 pp.Google Scholar
  25. Sutherst, R.W., Utech, K.B.W., Dallwitz, M.J. and Kerr, R., 1978b. Aspects of host finding by the cattle tick,Boophilus microplus. Aust. J. Zool., 26: 159–174.Google Scholar
  26. Tate, H.D., 1941. Biology of the tropical cattle tick and other species of ticks in Puerto Rico, with notes on the effect on ticks of arsenical dips. J. Agric. Univ. P.R., 25: 1–24.Google Scholar
  27. Utech, K.B.W., Sutherst, R.W., Dallwitz, M.J., Wharton, R.H., Maywald, G.F. and Sutherland, I.D., 1983. A model of the survival of larvae of the cattle tick,Boophilus microplus, on pasture. Aust. J. Agric. Res., 34: 63–72.Google Scholar
  28. Wilkinson, P.R., 1953. Observations on the sensory physiology and behaviour of larvae of the cattle tick,Boophilus microplus (Can.) (Ixodidae). Aust. J. Zool., 1: 345–356.Google Scholar
  29. Wilkinson, P.R. and Wilson, J.T., 1959. Survival of cattle ticks in central Queensland pastures. Aust. J. Agric. Res., 10: 129–143.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Elsevier Science Publishers B.V. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. J. Short
    • 1
  • R. B. Floyd
    • 2
  • R. A. I. Norval
    • 1
  • R. W. Sutherst
    • 2
  1. 1.Veterinary Research LaboratoryCausewayZimbabwe
  2. 2.Division of Entomology, Long Pocket LaboratoriesCSIROIndooroopillyAustralia

Personalised recommendations