Rhipicephalus microplus (formerly Boophilus microplus)
Cattle ticks were introduced to Australia in 1829 with cattle from Indonesia.
They are the most serious external parasites of cattle in Australia. Not only do they cause loss of condition or even death from blood loss, but they can also transmit tick fever (Babesiosis).
Tick fever is itself potentially fatal to cattle. It is caused by the microscopic parasites Babesia bigemina and B. bovis which infect, and eventually kill, the red blood cells of the host cow.
Cattle ticks are ‘one-host ticks’ which means they complete their development from larvae to nymphs and then to adults on the same host. Adult female ticks, engorged with blood from their host, drop onto the pasture and lay thousands of eggs. Larvae hatch from the eggs and if a suitable host comes close enough they will attach, feed and moult, over a period of 3 weeks, to form nymphs and then adults.
Australia’s scientists lead the research into Tick Fever in cattle. The Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries Tick Fever Research Centre has pioneered the development of live vaccines for the control of these diseases.
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