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The cattle fever tick, Rhipicephalus annulatus (Say), is an economically destructive arthropod because of its ability to vector bovine babesiosis. Cattle fever ticks can spend more than 90% of their life cycle as questing larvae, but the effect of climatic factors on their off-host behavior and survival is unclear. The goal of this study was to measure the effects of specific ecological factors on off-host larvae in nature. The study was conducted in a south Texas pasture over a 20-mo period, during which time larval populations were surveyed and ambient weather variables - relative humidity and temperatures - were recorded. Oviposition success and larval survival varied between cattle fever tick cohorts and was affected by relative humidity and canopied (with tree cover) versus exposed habitat. The results show that relative humidity and the interaction of relative humidity and inhabiting canopied habitats play a key role in oviposition success. Additionally, canopied habitats have a positive influence on off-host larval survival in the spring and summer.


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Ticks and tick-borne diseases



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Biology Commons



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