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1 August 2016 Field Observations of Questing and Dispersal by Colonized Nymphal Amblyomma maculatum Koch (Acari: Ixodidae)
José Santos Portugal, Jerome Goddard
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Almost nothing is known about the questing and dispersal behavior of immature Gulf Coast ticks (Amblyomma maculatum), a vector of both medical and veterinary concern. This experiment examined host-seeking (questing) and dispersal of marked, previously colonized, nymphal A. maculatum released in field plots in rural Oktibbeha County, Mississippi during 2015. A total of 500 (250 per replication) A. maculatum nymphs were painted and released in 5 plots (50 ticks each time). Observations were then made 5 times, approximately every 3 days, searching the plots for ticks from the release points outwards to 50 cm. Mean overall vertical questing height of ticks in Replication 1 in March (5.13 cm) was significantly higher than that of Replication 2 in April (2.57 cm) for a combined mean questing height of 3.58 cm. Ticks dispersed at a mean rate of 1.71 cm/day (Replication 1) and 0.98 cm/day (Replication 2), for an overall mean dispersal rate of 1.27 cm/day. When observation days where tick movement was impacted by adverse weather conditions were excluded, means between the replications were much closer. Only 38 of 2,500 possible total observations (1.5%) of the marked ticks were subsequently seen questing in this study, perhaps mirroring low questing rates of nymphal A. maculatum in nature. Additionally, 2 ticks were found in dense vegetation at the base of a plant. These data show that nymphs of this species disperse slowly, quest low to the ground, and can hide in very dense vegetation.

José Santos Portugal and Jerome Goddard "Field Observations of Questing and Dispersal by Colonized Nymphal Amblyomma maculatum Koch (Acari: Ixodidae)," Journal of Parasitology 102(4), 481-483, (1 August 2016).
Published: 1 August 2016
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