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Arthropods: Acari

Ticks and Mites

Phylum Arthropoda
Subphylum Crustacea
Subphylum Uniramia
Subphylum Chelicerata

Subphylum Chelicerata
Large, diverse group of arthropods
Includes horseshoe crabs, spiders, sea spiders, scorpions
Most have 4 pairs of legs
Some mites have one to three pairs
External segmentation reduced
Two body parts
Capitulum (gnathosoma)
Contains the mouthparts
Legs and tail
Most are free-living, non-parasitic
Ticks and mites are parasitic

Class Arachnidae
Subclass Acari
Order Ixodida
Order Mesostigmata
Order Prostigmata
Order Oribatida
Order Astigmata

Order Ixodida
Hard ticks
Soft Ticks
Four life cycle stages: egg, larva, nymph, adult
May have one to six nymphal instars
In many species, all stages are solenophagous ectoparasites
In some, all instars are on one animal.
In others, each instar finds a new host
Increases transmission of disease
Some are host specific, some are opportunistic
Can live as long as 16 years without blood meal!
Life span may be as long 21 years
Very complex behavior
Controlled by pheromones

Family Ixodidae
Hard Ticks
Capitulum is terminal and can be seen from above
Host animal can lose 2000 pounds of blood in a season
Inflammation, swelling, ulceration and itching around bite
Tick Paralysis
Tick imbeds at base of skull
Toxic secretions released by tick causes swelling and temporary paralysis of host
Paralysis disappears when tick is removed

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Many are important vectors of diseases in humans and domestic animals

Ixodes sp.
Largest genus with 200 species
40 in North America
Important vector of disease
Lyme Disease – caused by spirochaete Borrelais burgdorferi
Tick-borne encephalitis
Human granulocytic erlichiosis – caused by Erlichia sp. bacteria

Dermacentor sp.
Most important genus medically
30 species with 7 in North America
Vector for several human diseases
Tick paralysis
Powassan encephalitis virus
Colorado Tick Fever
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Also vectors for disease among domestic animals

Hyalomma sp.
Very difficult to identify to species
Fairly large ticks
Very hardy
Found in deserts with little shelter
Will bite humans and domestic animals
Important vector for disease
Can be carried to other continents by migratory birds
Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever spreads between Africa and Europe
Carries West Nile Virus
Also can transmit Siberian tick typhus, boutenneuse fever, Q Fever, and Ehrlichiosis
Boophilus sp.
Very small ticks when not engorged
Spread with the spread of the cattle industry
Primarily use cattle as hosts
Will bite humans

Important vector for Texas Cattle Fever

Caused by Babesia bigemina, a Protozoan related to the malarial parasites
Now eradicated in U.S.
Important vector for Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever and several other viruses in humans

Family Argasidae
Soft ticks
About 160 species total
Not vectors for disease
Five genera
Antricola and Northaspis
found on cave-dwelling bats in North and Central America
Over 100 species
Parasitize mammals, including bats and humans
Vector for relapsing fever in humans
O. cariaceus will give nasty bite to humans
Otobius – spinous ear ticks
Adults do not feed; only mate, lay eggs and die

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Mostly parasites of birds and bats
Spends time in animal’s bedding
Will bite humans

Order Mesostigmata
Easily recognized by spiracle just behind third coxa of third pair of legs
Four families are parasitic
Family Laelaptidae
Large number of diverse genera
Usually Ectoparasite of mammals
Some on invertebrates
Do not transmit disease to humans
May cause dermatitis
Family Halarachnidae
Parasite of the respiratory system of mammals
Pneumonyssus sp. are found in primates
But not in humans
Raillietea auris lives on ears of cattle
Lives on dead cells and secretions of ear

Family Dermanyssidae
Parasites of vertebrates
Very important economically and medically
Dermanyssus gallinae – Chicken mite
Common on domestic fowl
Chickens, turkeys, pigeons
Feed at night
Hide in crevices during the day.
Can kill chickens and chicks in large infestations
Will bite humans
Attracted to warm objects
May carry western and St. Louis equine encephalitis but transmission to mammals unlikely

Liponyssus sanguineus – House Mouse Mite

Feed on mice but will bite humans
Transmits Rickettsial pox to humans
Not fatal but makes you sick for weeks
Ornithonyssus bacoti – Tropical Rat Mite
Most common in mice and rats
Can cause severe declines in laboratory rodents
Will attack humans with painful bite
Some people develop severe dermatitis
Does not transmit diseases to humans
Does transmit filarial worm to rats
Family Rhinonyssidae
All are parasites in respiratory tract of birds
Nasal mites
Feed on blood and tissue
Probably very important vector of disease in wild bird populations

Order Prostigmata
Spiracle is variable in position
Not as hard (schlerotized) as other mites
Many feed on plants.
Only a few are parasitic on animals
Also free-living forms in terrestrial and aquatic habitats

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Family Cheyletidae
Most are yellow or reddish and round
Except mites on feathers which are elongated
Cheyletiella yasguri – common on dogs
C. blakei – common on cats
Both can cause mange dermatitis
Rarely bite humans

Family Pyemotidae
Parasitize insects that feed on grain
Bite humans when they harvest grain or sleep on straw mats
Pyemotes tritici – straw itch mite
Females reach 1 mm in length
Males smaller
Normal host is grain beetle but will bite people
Family Psorergatidae
Small to medium size mites
Create intense itching
Psorergates ovis – itch mite of sheep
P. simplex – itch mite of mice
P. bos – itch mite of cattle.

Family Demodicidae
Follicle mites
Cigar-shaped, very small mites
100-400 um long with stumpy legs
Humans host two species
Demodex folliculus
Live on hair follicles
Demodex brevis
Live in sebaceous glands
Live mainly on face, particularly around nose and eye
Little pathology
Incidence increases with age
Demodex canis
Serious pathogen on dogs
Causes Red Mange, with the help of bacterium Staphylococcus pyogenes
Can be fatal in young dogs

Demodex canis
Serious pathogen on dogs
Causes Red Mange, with the help of bacterium Staphylococcus pyogenes
Can be fatal in young dogs
Dogs that recover may be permanently hairless!

Family Trombiculidae
1200 species
Most described from larva
Adults and nymphs are unknown for many species
Only larval stage are parasitic
Nymphs and adults feed on terrestrial invertebrates
Cause chigger dermatitis
Vector for disease
Adults are very large, covered in velvet-like setae and are red or yellow

Chigger Dermatitis

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Trombicula sp. in U.S,
Leptotrombidium outside U.S.
Larvae do not burrow into skin
Mouthparts penetrate dermis and it injects salivary secretions
Particularly proteolytic enzymes
Digests the cells
Secretions cause cells of host to harden into tube
Larvae sucks juices of digested cells until engorged and drop off
Bites are concentrated where clothes restrict chigger movement
Some people are sensitive to the salivary secretions
Creates severe reaction around bite
Intense itching
Can lead to secondary bacterial infections

Scrub Typhus
Caused by Rickettsia tsutsugamushi, a bacterium
Carried by Leptotrombidium sp.
Transmitted from adult female to larvae in egg
Wild rodents are reservoir
Found in Southeast Asia, islands of the Indian and Pacific Ocean, and Australia
Lesion forms around chigger bite
Enlarges slowly to 8-12 mm with necrotic center
Rash appears and spreads to extremities
Delirium and other nervous disturbances follows
Mortality ranges from 6% to 60% without antibiotics

Order Astigmata
Lack tracheal system
Absorb oxygen through skin
Very small
Little hardening of exoskeleton
Soft bodied
Very important medically and economically
Frequently cause various types of mange in domestic animals

Family Psoroptidae
Do not burrow into skin
Pierce skin at base of hairs
Causes inflamation that can be severe
Choroptic mange
Caused by Chorioptes bovis
Formerly divided into many species based on host it was on
Most common feet and hind legs
Can cause seminal degeneration in sheep

Family Psoroptidae
Otodectes sp.
Fairly common in dogs, cats, and other mammals.
Live in the ears
Cause intense itching
Psoroptic mange
Caused by Psoroptes sp.
Pierces skin and sucks exudate
Forms a scab that covers mite
Mites then thrive and reproduce into millions in a few days
Can greatly affect wool production

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Most common in wooly area
Very common in domestic animals and wild animals

Family Sarcoptidae
Sarcoptes scabiei
Has been divided into many species but probably all the same species
Causes sarcoptic mange in mammals
Causes Scabies in humans
When human comes in contact with mangy animal
Adults mate on host skin
Then females burrow into skin
Males and nymphs stay on surface
Tunnels through the upper layer of skin, laying eggs and feeding
Larvae crawl back out onto surface
Causes intense itching along burrows
Can result in secondary bacterial infection

Family Pyroglyphidae
Most are free-living
Many cause house dust mite allergies
Live in the house, feeding on debris
Mite parts, excrement are inhaled, resulting in allergic reaction
Dermatophagoides scheremetewski
Causes severe dermatitis on scalp, face, and ears of humans
Normal host is probably sparrows, bats or other animals
Feather Mites
Feed on feathers and lipids used to waterproof feathers
Wide variety of genera from many different orders of mites
Cause very little damage and rarely carry disease
Very important for taxonomy
Transferred from parent to offspring
Speciation occurs faster in mites than birds

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