Original Research

Hosts, seasonality and geographic distribution of the South African tortoise tick, Amblyomma marmoreum

I.G. Horak, I.J. McKay, Heloise Heyne, A.M. Spickett
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 73, No 1 | a166 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v73i1.166 | © 2006 I.G. Horak, I.J. McKay, Heloise Heyne, A.M. Spickett | This work is licensed under CC Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0
Submitted: 13 September 2006 | Published: 13 September 2006

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I.G. Horak,
I.J. McKay,
Heloise Heyne,
A.M. Spickett,

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Abstract

The tortoise tick Amblyomma marmoreum was collected from large numbers of reptiles and other animals during the course of numerous surveys conducted in South Africa. A total of 1 229 ticks, of which 550 were adults, were recovered from 309 reptiles belonging to 13 species, with leopard tortoises, Geochelone pardalis being the most heavily infested. The 269 birds sampled harboured 4 901 larvae, 217 nymphs and no adult ticks, and the prevalence of infestation was greatest on hel meted guinea fowls, Numida meleagris. Only two larvae were recovered from 610 rodents, including 31 spring hares, Pedetes capensis, whereas 1 144 other small mammals yielded 1 835 immature ticks, of which 1 655 were collected from 623 scrub hares, Lepus saxatilis. The 213 carnivores examined harboured 2 459 ticks of which none were adult. A single adult tick and 6 684 larvae and 62 nymphs were recovered from 656 large herbivores, and a total of 4 081 immature ticks and three adults were collected from 1 543 domestic animals and 194 humans.
Adult male and female A. marmoreum were most numerous on reptiles during January and February, and larvae during March. The largest numbers of larvae were present on domestic cattle and helmeted guineafowls in the Eastern Cape Province during March or April respectively, whereas larvae were most numerous on helmeted guineafowls, scrub hares and the vegetation in north-eastern Mpumalanga Province during May. In both provinces nymphs were most numerous between October and December. Amblyomma marmoreum appears to be most prevalent in the western regions of the Western and Eastern Cape and Free State provinces, and the north-eastern regions of the Northern Cape, KwaZulu- Natal, Mpumulanga and Limpopo provinces.

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