Invasive alien species (IAS) include all plants, animals, and other organisms that have become invasive outside of their native habitat. These IAS are a major[GU1] cause of biodiversity loss in the Caribbean. In the Caribbean, non-native species have been introduced either accidentally or deliberately for a variety of reasons. This week we highlight the tropical bont tick, Amblyomma variegatum Fabricius, a three-host invasive tick that is native to Africa.
The tropical bont tick is also known as the Antigua gold tick or Senegalese tick. The ticks are vividly coloured and decorated ticks, especially male ticks. It has had a huge effect on the livestock industry through the transmission of heartwater disease.
Heartwater disease, Ehrlichia ruminantium (formerly Cowdria ruminantium) has been associated with dermatophilosis, Dermatophilus congolensis. The spread of this invasive species has been linked with the migration of the cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis. Birds transport the larvae and nymphs of the ticks and other dispersal vectors including the transport of infested vegetation and litter.
The bite from the tropical bont tick causes skin lesions on the afflicted animal that can lead to acute dermatophilosis, triggered by the bacteria Dermatophilus congolensis. Heartwater disease has caused economic losses for sectors like Tourism, Trade, Transportation, and Agriculture in the Caribbean. Heartwater disease may result in poor quality and often unusable hides, loss of milk production, weight loss, and sometimes death of domestic animals. The tropical bont ticks can be found in hard-to-reach areas such as the underbelly, the dewlap, or between cattle hooves.
One of the primary measures to control the tropical bont tick after clinical symptoms have been detected in hosts is the use of acaricides. Acaricides are pesticides that kill arachnid subclass Acari, which include mites and ticks. It should be used on phases of the tick, primarily in areas of infestation accumulation. Another measure is footbaths containing acaricides as ticks often attach themselves between hooves.
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Read more from our sources below!
University of Florida – IFAS Extension– Tropical Bont Tick (Amblyomma Variegatum Fabricius)
University of Florida –Entomology and Nematology – Tropical Bont Tick (Amblyomma Variegatum Fabricius)
Caribbean Invasives – The serious case of the Tropical bont tick
Caribbean Plant Health Directors – Around the region – Plant pests and diseases that plague sectors