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Moulting and survival of Amblyomma variegatum (Acari: Ixodidae) nymphs in quasi-natural conditions in Burkina Faso; tick predators as an important limiting factor

Stachurski F., Zoungrana S., Konkobo M.. 2010. Experimental and Applied Acarology, 52 (4) : p. 363-373.

DOI: 10.1007/s10493-010-9370-z

The survival rate of Amblyomma variegatum engorged nymphs was studied in 9 cohorts released during the first part of the dry season (i.e. the nymph infestation period in the region) and placed on a natural savannah, either in plastic containers or in cages driven into the soil and open at the bottom. All nymphs put in the containers placed in the sun died rapidly, while a high moulting rate (94%) was observed in containers placed in the shade. This rate reached 63% for the ticks released in the cages. The moulting period lasted from less than 4 to more than 6 weeks, depending on the release period: unfed adults are therefore present in the pasture 4-5 months before the onset of the adult infestation period. The survival rate of the unfed adults did not vary according to the release period of the nymphs: at the beginning of the rainy season, 20-25% of the adult ticks were still alive in the cages. Very important variations in survival and disappearance rates were observed according to the place where the cages had been installed: within a few metres, the survival rate could vary from 0 to 90%, presumably because of the activity of predators which removed also dead tick from the plastic containers. Predators may then have a great but highly variable and unpredictable impact on the natural population of A. variegatum adults. Engorged nymphs released on pasture were able to find suitable micro-habitats allowing survival, covered up to 2.8 metres to reach them, and grouped together at the neck or root network of bushes and grass clumps, sometimes burrowing to a depth of 10 cm.

Mots-clés : amblyomma variegatum; développement biologique; distribution des populations; humidité; mue; survie; prédateur; nymphe; vecteur de maladie; burkina faso

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