Experimental & Applied Acarology

, Volume 25, Issue 8, pp 641–660 | Cite as

Behavioural and chemoreceptor cell responses of the tick, Ixodes ricinus, to its own faeces and faecal constituents

  • Stoyan Grenacher
  • Thomas Kröber
  • Patrick M. Guerin
  • Michèle Vlimant


Ticks are ectoparasites of vertebrates and utilize a variety ofinfochemicals for host finding and acceptance as well as for intraspecificaggregation and mating responses. Individual male and female Ixodesricinus, the vector of Lyme disease in Europe, readily arrest onfilter paper strips contaminated with their own faeces. I.ricinus also responds, but to a lesser degree, tofaeces-contaminatedpapers enclosed in metal mesh envelopes, i.e. without directly contacting thefaeces, suggesting a role for volatiles in the arrestment response. The faecalconstituents guanine, xanthine, uric acid and 8-azaguanine (a bacterialbreakdown product of guanine) also caused arrestment of individual I.ricinus males and females. However, mixtures of these productsinduced arrestment of I. ricinus at doses one hundred foldlower than the lowest active dose of any of them tested singly. Saline extractsof faeces activated receptor cells in terminal pore sensilla on the first legtarsi of I. ricinus. One cell in these sensilla respondedin a similar dose dependent manner to guanine and 8-azaguanine, whereas asecondcell was more sensitive to lower doses of 8-azaguanine. The response thresholdapproached 100 fM for both cells. These findings suggest thatfaeces and faecal breakdown products are implicated in aggregation responses ofI. ricinus. This may account for the clumped distributionof this ectoparasite on the ground and contribute to the high proportion ofmated individuals recorded prior to host colonization.

Aggregation pheromone Behaviour Chemosensilla Guanine Gustation Ixodes ricinus Purines Tick 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stoyan Grenacher
    • 1
  • Thomas Kröber
    • 1
  • Patrick M. Guerin
    • 1
  • Michèle Vlimant
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of ZoologyUniversity of NeuchâtelNeuchâtelSwitzerland

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