We studied the population dynamics of free-living ticks in the Tamaulipan Biotic Province in south Texas from March, 2005 to November, 2008. We collected 70,873 ticks using carbon dioxide traps. Amblyomma cajennense represented 93.6% of the ticks identified. A. cajennense is distributed from northern Argentina to south Texas in the Tamaulipan Biotic Province. Emergence of larval A. cajennense ticks was observed two to five weeks after significant rain events (p<0.0001) and had a strong negative correlation with temperature (p<0.0001). More larvae were observed under humid conditions (p<0.05). Fewer larvae were observed during windy and warmer conditions (p<0.05). This observation indicates high sensitivity of larvae to desiccating conditions. Peaks in nymphal activity were observed after peaks of larval emergence. Activity of nymphs was negatively correlated with temperature (p<0.05). Adult activity was negatively correlated with humidity (p<0.05) and negatively correlated with total rain from three to six weeks prior to observation (p<0.05). Adult A. cajennense are particularly tolerant to drier conditions relative to other closely related ticks. Adult female activity was positively correlated with temperature (p<0.05). Peaks in rain activity and a summer behavioral diapause appear to be the dominant factors controlling emergence of larvae, and by extension, the life cycle of A. cajennense in the Tamaulipan Biotic Province.
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Vol. 36 • No. 1