Rhipicephalus microplus

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Rhipicephalus microplus female (left) and male (right) (click on image to enlarge it)
Author(s): Alan R. Walker
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Rhipicephalus microplus Canestrini, 1888 - (southern cattle tick)

The tick is an important and wide-spread livestock pest in tropical and subtropical regions, apparently native to south-east Asia. Animals with heavy tick burdens have reduced growth and milk production. It is also a vector of several cattle diseases. Most importantly, it transmits bovine babesiosis caused by Babesia bovis which frequently results in fatal infections of immunologically naïve hosts. The tick is controlled by acaricides, but pesticide resistance has become problem in some countries.

This species has been eradicated from the U.S.A. around 1960 in a campaign starting in 1906. A 800 km "tick eradication quarantine area" is maintained along the U.S./Mexico border, where re-introductions (through illegal cattle movements and the migration of wildlife like the white-tailed deer) are monitored and controlled.

Vernacular names
• English: southern cattle tick
cattle fever tick
Asian Blue Tick
• Español: garrapata del ganado australiano
• Português: carrapato sul americano do boi

Females drop to the ground for egg laying. The larvae hatch from the eggs, crawl up grasses and attach themselves to passing cattle or other livestock. It does not change hosts. After feeding, the larvae molt to nymphs, feed again and then molt to adults. These feed once more to complete their development. The whole life cycle lasts 3-4 weeks.

Unfed adults are about 3-5 mm long, while a fully engorged female can reach a length of 12 mm. The color is variably yellowish or brownish, sometimes bluish, and often with some lighter streaks. The larvae are small, 0.5 x 0.4 mm.

Taxonomically, R. microplus is considered to represent a species complex which includes Rhipicephalus australis, Rhipicephalus annulatus, and several cryptic species.

Synonyms:
Boophilus microplus