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Castor Bean Tick

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Life Cycle

One generation of Ixodes ricinus will take at least 1½ years, more often 2-3 years and seldom 4-5 years. Each life cycle stage (larva, nymph and adult) is able to survive at least 1 year if unengorged (Eckert et al., 2008).

Blood feeding occurs once in each stage and for a period between days (2-3 days for larvae, up to 5 days for nymphs) to weeks (1 week for adult females, seldom 2-3 weeks). Digestion of the blood meal and development to the next stage occurs whilst hidden deep in the vegetation.

The larvae hatch from an egg batch of about 3000 and after a few days are ready to feed. The six-legged larvae climb the vegetation and wait for a passing host, usually a mouse or vole. After 2 or 3 days feeding, during which they increase their weight 10-20 times, they drop off into the vegetation and commence development.

After several months the fed larva molts to an 8-legged 1.5-2 mm nymph that usually feeds in the following year for 4-5 days.

Figure 1: Nymph of the Castor bean tick.

Finally, the adult female tick, about 4 mm long when unfed, parasitizes a larger animal (often deer or livestock, but also dogs and humans) on which they feed for about 7 days, taking up to 5 ml of blood and growing to the size of a small bean.

Figure 2: Adult female Castor bean tick.

The male tick stays on the host for longer periods in order to mate with females while taking no blood meal.

Figure 3: Adult male Castor bean tick.

   

Further information

  • Eckert J, Friedhoff KT, Zahner H, et al.: [Subphylum Amandibulata.] In: Eckert J, Friedhoff KT, Zahner H, et al. (eds.): Lehrbuch der Parasitologie für die Tiermedizin. 2nd edn., 2008, Enke in MVS, Stuttgart, pp 375-434 [in German]

 

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