The cattle tick Boophilus microplus is a significant ectoparasite of cattle and a vector for important diseases such as babesiosis
SPC List D disease
B. microplus is primarily a parasite of cattle. However, heavy infestations can also occur on horses, sheep, deer and water
buffalo. Rarely, ticks have been reported on marsupials, goats, dogs, cats and pigs.
Where it occurs
The cattle tick is widely distributed in Central and South America, parts of the southern USA, Africa, Asia, and northern
Australia. The distribution of the cattle tick is largely determined by climatic factors. B. microplus requires high humidity and
ambient temperatures of at least 15-20o C for egg laying and hatching.
Cattle tick infestation causes:
· damage to hides
· loss of production
· anaemia and death
· weakness leading to greater mortalities during droughts
Animals may be in poor condition, anaemic. Infestations will be obvious by the presence of engorged ticks attached to the
Several species of ticks may be found on cattle and it is important to differentiate these from B. microplus. Other ticks include:
· Haemophysalis sp..
· Ixodes holocyclus
Specimens required for diagnosis
Ticks should be collected and forwarded to an entomologist for confirmation of the diagnosis. B. microplus has pale legs, short
mouth parts with transversely ridged palps, small eyes and lacks an anal groove.
The life cycle involves free-living stages. After feeding on cattle, engorged female ticks drop to the ground and lay eggs (up to
5000). After hatching, the larvae survive on pasture for several months. The larvae then become quite active and climb up grass
and transfer to animals as they brush past. The larvae attach and feed from the host. They moult to the nymphal stage and then
undergo a further moult to the adult stage.
Risk of introduction
Cattle ticks are most likely to be introduced with the importation of infested cattle. Cattle tick was introduced to New
Caledonia with cattle imported from Australia in this way.
Transport of ticks on dogs is considered a potential risk for introducing the tick to new areas, although egg production is much
reduced in this species and the risk is considered low.
Control / vaccines
There are four methods available for controlling ticks:
1. treatment with acaricides
2. pasture spelling
3. the use of resistant cattle
Tick control by acaracide dipping has been widely used in endemic areas. Acaracides used for this purpose include various
synthetic pyrethroids, amitraz, and some organophosphates. Dipping may have to be done as frequently as every 4-6 weeks in
heavily infested areas. Many producers in tick endemic area have...