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Assessment of Tick Management Strategies at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center


The goal of this research is to develop an effective and practical tick control strategy for Fossil Rim Wildlife Center (FRWC).  To learn more about Fossil Rim click here!



1. Assess the temporal and spatial patterns of tick species based on host and habitat characteristics within FRWC.
2. Identify tick-host relationships by defining host species (both wildlife and captive), tick species, and individual tick stages within FRWC.
3. Assess the efficacy and feasibility of commonly used tick management strategies.


Principal Investigators:

Chris Niebuhr
Master’s student, Dept. of Animal Science & Wildlife Management


Jeff Breeden, PhD
Wildlife biology, Dept. of Animal Science & Wildlife Management


David Kattes, PhD
Entomology, Dept. of Environmental & Agricultural Management


Project Members:

Holly Haefele, DVM
Director of Animal Health, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center


Adam Eyres
Hoofstock Supervisor, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center


Barry Lambert, PhD
Ruminant nutrition, Dept. of Animal Science & Wildlife Management


Undergraduate Researchers:

Sarah Mays
Dept. of Animal Science & Wildlife Management (see independent project below)


 2010 Texas A&M University System Pathways Student Research Symposium

Posters presented:

Assessment of Tick Management Strategies at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

Chris Niebuhr, Jeff Breeden, David Kattes, Barry Lambert, Sarah Mays, Adam Eyres, and Holly Haefele

Otobius megnini (Dugès), an obligate blood-sucking ectoparasite known as the spinose ear tick, is a one-host tick reported on a variety of animals at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas.  Since the animals are not regularly handled and the non-feeding adult stage of O. megnini is not found on the host, traditional management techniques may not apply.  Preliminary research was conducted to assess tick management strategies based on temporal, spatial, and tick-host relationships within the facility.  Traditional tick survey methods conducted produced no O. megnini.  Adult stages were collected from structures frequented by potential host animals, and specific microhabitats were identified.   Hatched larvae were used in a repellency experiment showing O. megnini to be the least repelled of four tick species using select chemicals.  This information may prove important for facilities attempting to manage spinose ear ticks.  Results are from the first season of a two year study.

Chemical Repellents of Spinose Ear Ticks (Otobius megnini)

Sarah Mays, Chris Niebuhr, Jeff Breeden, David Kattes, Barry Lambert

The spinose ear tick, Otobius megnini, has been identified on ungulate species at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, and may pose a health threat to host ungulates.  The purpose of this experiment was to compare the effectiveness of five chemical repellents on the spinose ear tick and three other common tick species to identify repellents that may enhance control methods.  Larvae of the spinose ear tick, Dermacentor variabilis, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, and Amblyomma americanum were used for the tests.  To test repellency, larvae were placed on a partially treated filter paper circle and their location was recorded every 30 seconds for five minutes.  Of the four species, the spinose ear tick larvae were the least repelled, and showed little aversion to any chemical tested.  The other three species were more consistently repelled. Further research is necessary to identify a more effective repellent to aid in control of the spinose ear tick.