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Hyalomma m. marginatum

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Identifying ticks

The only way to identify a tick is to follow keys in books by recognised authorities. These are principally:

  1. Ticks of North West Europe by Paul Hillyard, published for The Linnean Society of London, by the Field Studies Council, Shrewsbury, 1996, ISBN 1 85153 257 9. 19.50 plus postage.

  2. British Ticks by Don. R Arthur, published by Butterworths, London, 1963. Out of print.

This page cannot duplicate the keys. What it intends to do is to present a list of pictorial characters that confirms the identity of a tick, starting with Ixodes ricinus. Other ticks will be added if found.

Some identifying features can only be distinguished using a microscope with suitable lighting and by frequent reference to the keys or a checklist while comparing with actual specimens.

                                                                                                                                           

Checklists to identify ticks on/around Dartmoor
(based on features in Hillyard, 1996)

Section 1 - Identification of life cycle stages, sexes and family

Characteristic

Photo
1. Mouthparts (capitulum, arrowed) project anteriorly
    (i.e. not hidden underneath)
    = Family Ixodidae

Photo 1
2. Four pairs of legs = adult or nymph
    otherwise, 3 pairs legs = larva
4 pairs legs - see Photo 1 above


3 pairs of legs = larva

3. Dorsal shield (scutum) covers back of tick = male
    otherwise covers anterior part of body only = female or nymph

Photo 2

Male scutum covers the entire tick

Female scutum - see Photo 1 above
 

4. Genital opening and porose areas present = female
    absent = nymph

Photo 3

Genital opening (top, female)
and anus (below)



Photo 4

Two porose areas

5. Anal groove circles anus anteriorly = Ixodes See Photo 3 above


Section 2 - Identification of Ixodes  females
- featuring I. ricinus (Sheep tick) & I. hexagonus (Hedgehog tick|)
- continuing from Section 1 - Identification of life cycle stages, sexes and family

1. Legs not long and slender  
2. Two porose areas (not undivided) See Photo 4 above
3. Basal segment of palp (segment one) without lateral spur on 
    article 1 - I. ricinus & I. hexagonus

Photo 5
4. Palps relatively long with articles 2 and 3 as long or longer than  
    base of capitulum is wide - I. ricinus

   Palps shorter than base of capitulum - I. hexagonus
   NB - also note the hexagonal/heart shape of the scutum compared
   to Photo 1 (I. ricinus)
   Also, palps not club-shaped (= I. hexagonus)

See Photo 8 below (I. ricinus)


Photo 10
(I. hexagonus)

 

5. Coxa 1 has a long internal spur and a short external spur. The
    ventral base of the capitulum has no auriculae

 

 

 

 

   Coxa 1 has only an internal spur with no external spurs. The other coxae have no spurs.

 

 

 

 


Photo 6
The
external spurs are difficult to see, especially in dead specimens that have distorted or shrivelled


Section 3 - Identification of Ixodes  males
- continuing from Section 1 - Identification of life cycle stages, sexes and family

1. Legs not long and slender  
2. No brushes of setae on posterior body margin
Photo 7
A few single setae only
3. Coxa 1 has 1 or 2 spurs See Photo 6 above
4. Palp articles free, with visible divisions
    (arrows indicating the division between articles 2 and 3)

Photo 8
5. Median plate 1 times long as wide
Photo 9
Detail slightly hidden because of the shrivelled leg 4 on the right side
6. Tarsus 1 tapers and lacks hump near tip
Photo 10
7. Coxa 1 with  internal and external spurs See Photo 6 above
8. Coxa 1 internal spur is 3 times longer than external spur See Photo 6 above


Section 4 - Identification of Ixodes  nymphs
- continuing from Section 1 - Identification of life cycle stages, sexes and family

1. Legs not long and slender  
2. Palp article 1 has no lateral spur See Photo 6 above
3. Articles 2 & 3 of palp as long or longer than base of capitulum is wide See Photo 5 above
4. Coxa 1 internal spur longer than external spur, auriculae are dark divergent
    triangles
Photo needed - not possible to see in the engorged nymphs collected


Section 5 - Identification of Ixodes  larvae
- continuing from Section 1 - Identification of life cycle stages, sexes and family

(based on features in Butterworth, 1963)

1. Internal spur on coxa 1 plus other variable spur arrangement - and NOT only
    on 1 and NOT lacking spurs completely
 
2. External spurs on all coxae  
3. Scutum ovate, NOT wider nearer the front  
4. Auricular lobes (if present) NOT well defined and NOT rounded apically  
5. Postero-lateral angles of dorsal ridge drawn out to form cornua-like
    extensions (fig. 24)
 

 


 

 

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