Among spiders, scorpions, and whip spiders, a common type of maternal care consists of females carrying newly hatched offspring on their body for a few days until they are able to live independently. While this maternal care has been suggested to occur in different argasid tick species, it has been recorded only once, for Antricola marginatus in Cuba; however, this earlier record only superficially mentioned the occurrence of this behavior, with no further details. Here we report the occurrence of maternal care in the argasid tick A. marginatus under natural conditions in a cave at Yucatan, Mexico, where 8 A. marginatus females, while walking on bat guano, had their body entirely covered by a mean number of 305 ± 112 conspecific unfed larvae (range: 105–466). Larvae covered the entire idiosoma of the female tick, where they were motionless or displayed just slight movement. This result substantially expands the number of unique characters that have been found only in Antricola spp. ticks, when compared to the other tick genera. Our findings also indicate that maternal care evolved independently in different taxa of Arachnida, since it has been reported for species of Araneae, Scorpiones, and Amblypygi, and here for an Acari species.
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Vol. 98 • No. 4