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Assessment of Tick Management Strategies at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

Tick study

The goal of this research is to develop an effective and practical tick control strategy for Fossil Rim Wildlife Center (FRWC)



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 & Jacqueline Glass
Dept. of Animal Science & Wildlife Management (see independent projects below)


 2010 - 2014 Texas A&M University System Pathways Student Research Symposium

Spatiotemporal Variation and Control of Otobius megnini (Acari: Argasidae) at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, Glen Rose, Texas, USA

Authors: Jacqueline Glass, Thomas Schwertner, David Kattes, and Barry Lambert

Abstract: Ticks are associated with numerous health problems, particularly among confined populations. I assessed habitat preference and peak larvae activity of Otobius megnini and hard ticks (Ixodidae) at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. I used compressed CO2 traps to collect larvae in four habitats types (shelters, woodlands, grassland, and hay). Larvae were collected bi-weekly, April 2012‒March 2013. Analysis showed a significant difference in larval abundance among habitats. Animal shelters had significantly more O. megnini larval than woodlands, grasslands and hay. Peak O. megnini larvae abundance occurred in mid-May and the beginning of December 2012. Additionally, I removed debris and litter from animal shelters as a means of controlling larva populations. Results from this study showed no significant decrease in abundance. This research can be used by Fossil Rim Wildlife Center and other conservation facilities to inform management on decisions regarding tick control activities.

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.