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ARS Home » Research » Research Project #440646

Research Project: Field Collections and Rearing of Tick Parasitoids from Italy

Location: Cattle Fever Tick Research

Project Number: 3094-32000-042-074-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 18, 2021
End Date: Dec 28, 2023

Objective:
The objective of this research is to conduct field collections of 3-host tick nymphs in Italy (native range of cattle fever ticks) and return to them to the laboratory for rearing. Engorged tick nymphs will collected and held for emergence of Ixodiphagus tick parasitoids. Adult tick parasitoids will be shipped to the Cattle Fever Tick Research Laboratory, Edinburg, TX for evaluation.

Approach:
The cattle fever tick, Rhipicephalus annulatus is a exotic and invasive livestock pest in Texas and Italy is part of its native range in Europe. As part of the parent project we are searching for beneficial parasitoid insects for classical biological control of cattle fever ticks where they are invasive in Texas along the transboundary region with Mexico. Tick parasitoids in the genus Ixodiphagus (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae) are known to attack tick species in the environment where they have co-evolved. In Italy, Rhipicephalus annulatus is native and occurs in the same environment with other three-host ticks species such as Ixodes ricinus. Recently the tick parasitoid, Ixodiphagus hookeri was collected from tick nymphs in the Basilicata Region of southern Italy (Ramos et al. 2015). This parasitoid develops in and emerges from fully engorged tick nymphs. Our approach is to collect unfed nymphs of I. ricinus from this region, engorge them on mice at at ENEA and then hold the engorged nymphs for emergence of the parasitoid adults. Adult parasitoids will be shipped to the Cattle Fever Tick Research Laboratory, Edinburg, TX for evaluation. The field and laboratory work will take place from early spring to late fall of 2022 in Italy.