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Some beautiful or unusual ixodid ticks

Rhipicephalus pulchellus – the zebra tick

This is a medium-sized large Rhipicephalus spp. with a striking dark-brown and and ivory-coloured pattern on the conscutum, while the whole scutum of the female is ivory-coloured except for brown patches around the eyes. The other morphological features of this tick are similar to those of of R. appendiculatus.



Rhipicephalus pulchellus – the zebra tick

All stages of development infest cattle, sheep, goats, camels, zebras, African buffaloes and elands. The immature stages may also occur on hares. On cattle and sheep and other hosts the adults attach to the ears and the underside of the body.

It is present in the Horn of Africa and east of the Rift Valley from Eritrea in the north to north-eastern Tanzania in the south. It is a three-host tick. The adults appear to be most abundant during the rainy season.
In Somalia Rhipicephalus pulchellus was found to be a vector of Nairobi sheep disease virus.

Dermacentor rhinocerinus - the rhinoceros tick

It is a large tick a rectangular basis capituli with medium-length, robust palps. The conscutum of male is chocolate-brown with orange patches of ornamentation, much like a gaint ladybird. Festoons are present but there are no adanal plates on the male. The coxae are large and the legs are banded.The female scutum is entirely ivory-coloured with a tinge of orange, except for a patch of brown around the eyes. Two prominent patches of white setae are present on the alloscutum of female ticks.




Dermacentor rhinocerinus - the rhinoceros tick

Dermacentor rhinocerinus infests black and white rhinoceroses (Diceros bicornis and Ceratotherium simus). The hosts of the immature stages are rodents. It is present within the distribution ranges of rhinoceroses in Africa. It is a three-host tick. The adults quest for their rhinoceros hosts from the stems of thick grass at height of 1 to 2 metres.

Margaropus winthemi - winter horse tick

The male is small and eyes are present, but difficult to see. Festoons are absent. There are tufts of hair along the posterior margin of the body of the male, the caudal process is large and the adanal plates are sharply pointed posteriorly and fused anterior to the anus. The segments of especially the fourth pair of legs of the male are markedly expanded. The mouthparts of both males and females are short and their light coloured legs have brown bands.

This tick infests particularly horses, zebras, eland and also cattle. It prefers to attach to the sides of the host animal.
Margaropus winthemi is absent in the coastal belt of South Africa and occurs in foci in Lesotho, southern, central, eastern and western parts of the Free State, the higher regions of the Western and Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces with isolated foci in the North West Province of South Africa.

This is a one-host tick. Very large numbers of ticks are present on its preferred hosts in mid and late winter, with mountain zebras near Cradock in the Eastern Cape Province harbouring 40 000 ticks or more in mid-winter. None to hardly any ticks are present in summer.

This tick does not transmit any diseases, but large infestations during winter can lead to a loss of condition and to the death of zebra foals. During winter starlings will make opportunistic use of the abundant food supply supplied by this tick on infested hosts.

Rhipicentor nuttalli

This is a brown tick superficially resembling Rhipicephalus spp. Eyes and festoons are present. There are no adanal plates on the males. Coxae I with two long, pointed, posteriorly directed spurs. All coxae are large; particularly coxae IV on the males, coxae IV each have two long, sharp, posteriorly directed spurs arising from their posterior margins.
Adult ticks infest hedgehogs and carnivores, the immature stages infest elephant shrews. The tick is probably more widely distributed in South Africa than present distribution records show. It has been recorded in isolated localities in the Western, Northern and Eastern Cape Provinces, Free State, Gauteng, North West and Limpopo Provinces and in Zimbabwe and Namibia.

It is a three-host tick of which the adults can cause paralysis in dogs.

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