Atlas of livestock parasites
digitized collection of microscopical preparations

Atlas of Parasites Contents Information sources Glossary Administration

Rhipicephalus spp. (pigs)



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Rhipicephalus spp.

General Description:

These five important genera of swine ticks may be differentiated on the basis of several characteristics. Amblyomma and Dermacentor ticks have ornate (patterned) upper body surfaces, whereas Boophilus and Ixodes are plain brown in color. Rectangular divisions on the rear body edge are called festoons and are present only on Amblyomma and Dermacentor. Amblyomma ticks have tong, prominent mouth parts, easily distinguished from the short mouth parts of Dermacentor. Of these ticks, only Ixodes is eyeless.

Life Cycle:
Amblyomma species are three-host ticks. Their life cycle varies in length from 3 months to over 2 years, depending on species, climate, and host availability. Boophilus, a one-host tick genus, can complete its life cycle in 6 weeks under optimal conditions. Some species of Dermacentor are one-host ticks, while the rest are three-host species. Depending on species and climate, the life cycle takes from 2 months to 3 years. Ixodes is a three-host tick genus with a life cycle that requires about 3 years. Unfed larvae, nymphs, and adult ticks each can survive for 1.5 to 2 years.

Anywhere on the host body.

Geographical Distribution:
Amblyomma parasitizes all domestic livestock species in central and southern Africa, the southern United States, Mexico, and Central and South America to Brazil. Boophilus occurs on swine, horses, and cattle in warm climates throughout the world except the United States, where it has been eradicated. Species of Dermacentor are found in Asia, Europe, and North and South America, while Ixodes species occur on pigs and other animals in Europe, North America, and South Africa.


Heavy tick infestation can cause great debilitation. Ticks tend to be of greater significance with pastured swine than with closely confined animals.

Effect on Host:

These parasites cause tick worry, blood loss, and damage at feeding sites, and can transmit protozoal diseases. Swine babesiosis and eperythrozoonosis, transmitted by Boophilus and Dermacentor ticks in Europe and northern Africa, can have a 50% mortality rate. Infested pigs itch, bite, and scratch, causing self-inflicted skin trauma susceptible to infection. Heavy tick burdens may result in anemia, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Amblyomma, Dermacentor, and Ixodes ticks are associated with tick paralysis, which can be fatal within several days if the parasites are not removed. The paralysis is caused by toxins injected by female ticks while they suck blood.

Diagnostic Information:

Identification of adult ticks found on the host animal.

Treatment of infested animals and their premises is an integral part of tick control. Chemical agents with residual action are most effective.


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