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Revista mexicana de biodiversidad

versão On-line ISSN 2007-8706versão impressa ISSN 1870-3453

Rev. Mex. Biodiv. vol.77 no.1 México Jun. 2006




First records of the ticks Amblyomma calcaratum and A. pacae (Acari: Ixodidae) parasitizing mammals of Mexico


Primeros registros de las garrapatas Amblyomma calcaratum y A. pacae (Acari: Ixodidae) parasitando mamíferos de México


Carmen Guzmán–Cornejo1*, Tila M. Pérez1, Santiago Nava2, Alberto A. Guglielmone2


1 Colección Nacional de Ácaros, Instituto de Biología, UNAM, 3er Circuito Exterior s/n Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, 04510 México D.F., México.

2 Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria, CC 22, C.P. 2300 Rafaela, Santa Fe, Argentina




Recibido: 06 diciembre 2005
Aceptado: 27 febrero 2006



Based on study of ticks deposited in the Colección Nacional de Ácaros, Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, we report the first records in Mexico for two species of Amblyomma: Amblyomma calcaratum ex Tamandua mexicana, and Amblyomma pacae ex Tapirus bairdii. These new records increase the number of species recorded for the genus Amblyomma in Mexico to 26.

Key words: Amblyomma calcaratum, Amblyomma pacae, Ixodidae, Mexico.



Basado en la revisión de garrapatas depositadas en la Colección Nacional de Ácaros, Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, establecemos los primeros registros en México para 2 especies del género Amblyomma: Amblyomma calcaratum ex Tamandua mexicana y Amblyomma pacae ex Tapirus bairdii. Estos nuevos registros incrementan a 26 el número de especies del género Amblyomma distribuidas en México.

Palabras clave: Amblyomma calcaratum, Amblyomma pacae, Ixodidae, México.


The genus Amblyomma (Koch, 1844) is one of the largest within Ixodida, and includes 130 species (Horak et al., 2002). Twenty four species have been recorded in Mexico parasitizing amphibians (2 species), reptiles (6), birds (2) and mammals (14), distributed mainly in the Neotropical region (18 tick species) (Table 1).

As a part of a program to catalogue the ticks deposited in The Colección Nacional de Ácaros (CNAC), Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, specimens belonging to the genus Amblyomma were studied: Amblyomma coelebs Neumann, 1899 ex Tamandua mexicana (Saussure, 1860) from Catemaco, Veracruz, and Amblyomma pacae Aragão, 1911 ex Tapirus bairdii (Gill, 1865) from Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas.

Tick species were re–identified following Jones et al. (1972), Guimarães et al. (2001), and descriptions of Robinson (1926), Boero and Prosen (1955), Aragão and Fonseca (1961), and Boero and Delpietro (1971). For comparative purposes, photographs of Amblyomma calcaratum Neumann, 1899 and Amblyomma nodosum Neumann, 1899 werekindly provided by D. M. Barros–Battesti (Instituto Butantan, São Paulo, Brazil).

The specimens identified originally as A. coelebs were re–identified as A. calcaratum, while identification of A. pacae was confirmed. Additionally, we present morphological diagnoses of both species, discussing briefly the main characteristics used in their determination.

Amblyomma calcaratum Neumann, 1899
Male: Scutum long and oval, with numerous punctations, largest in the antero–lateral fields; flat eyes, dentition of hypostome 3/3, marginal groove absent, dorsal base of capitulum broad, with strong cornua. Coxa I with two spurs almost equal in length; coxae II and III with one short, triangular spur; coxa IV with a spur at least three times longer than spurs on coxae II and III (Fig. 1); palps short and thick with a posterodorsal point on palpal article II.
Female: As for male except: scutum cordiform; dorsal base of capitulum triangular; spur on coxa IV about two times longer than spurs on coxae II and III; palps long and slender; palpal article II with a slight oblique ridge.
Host: Tamandua mexicana (Myrmecophagidae).
Locality: Catemaco (18°25'N 95°06'W), May 29, 1964.
Material studied: 1 male and 3 females labeled as A. coelebs (CNAC002037).
Collectors: Halfter and Reyes.

The specimens studied, originally identified as A. coelebs, lack the diagnostic characteristics of this species such as: marginal groove in males and a large, elongate, flattened plate ventrally of palpal article I in females (see Boero and Prosen, 1955; Jones et al., 1972). These specimens most closely resemble A. nodosum and A. calcaratum, which frequently are found simultaneously on the same individual host (Fairchild et al., 1966); however, the male analyzed in this study does not have rugose palps (present in A. nodosum), and has a faint ridge on dorsal article II (which is strong in A. nodosum); in addition, joint I of the palps in males of A. nodosum has a large ventral process (vs. small ventral process in the specimen from Catemaco), and a spur on coxa IV shorter than the spurs on coxae II and III, while in our specimen the spurs are at least three times longer (Figs. 1–2). Finally, the base of the capitulum in females originally identified as A. coelebs is triangular whereas in A. nodosum it is slightly rectangular. Based on these traits, we re–identified the specimens deposited under the accession number CNAC002037 as A. calcaratum.

The scutal ornamentation is also used to separate A. calcaratum and A. nodosum (Aragão & Fonseca, 1961; Jones et al., 1972) but the ornamentation of the Mexican specimens has faded after decades of preservation in alcohol and only small reddish spots remain.

Amblyomma calcaratum usually is found on Myrmecophaga tridactyla Linnaeus, 1758 and Tamandua tetradactyla (Linnaeus, 1758) from Belize to Argentina (Guglielmone et al., 2003). Tamandua mexicana represents a new host record, but is not surprising considering that this tick species usually parasitizes members of the family Myrmecophagidae. The most northerly record of this species is a male collected from a flannel drag in Kentucky, USA; however, the occurrence of this tick has been referred as accidental by Bloemer et al. (1987).

Amblyomma pacae Aragão, 1911
Female: Scutum with numerous small punctations evenly distributed (Fig. 3); flat eyes. Dorsal base of capitulum subtriangular, without cornua; hypostome with dentition 3/3; two subequal and stout spurs on coxa I (the external slightly longer than the internal); coxae II and III with small and broad spur; coxa IV with a short triangular spur. Trochanters and tibiae without spurs.
Host: Tapirus bairdii (Tapiridae)
Locality: Tuxtla Gutiérrez (16°44'N 93°06'W), Chiapas, September 10, 1979.
Material studied: 2 females labeled as A. pacae (CNAC002273).
Collector: M. A. Ocampo.

Reexamination of this material allowed us to confirm its original identification, despite the fact that one of the specimens lacks scutal ornamentation, which is considered diagnostic (Aragão and Fonseca, 1961; Guimarães et al., 2001). However, inornate specimens of this tick species have been described (see Jones et al., 1972), and for this reason, the taxonomic validity of this species needs to be confirmed.

The common host of A. pacae is Cuniculus paca (Linnaeus, 1766), whose range includes southern Mexico (Wilson and Reeder, 1993). The finding of this tick species on T. bairdii is the first on this host; however, A. pacae has been also found on wild pigs, peccaries, (Santos Dias, 1986) and Tamandua tetradactyla (Jones et al., 1972) in Suriname and Venezuela. Before the present work, its known range included Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, and Venezuela (Guglielmone et al., 2003).

Although the findings of A. calcaratum and A. pacae are not only the first for Mexico but for North America (due to the record of A. calcaratum from Kentucky is considered accidental), they were to be expected. These species are found in South and Central America (Guglielmone et al., 2003) and the current Neotropical localities in southern Mexico appear to be a natural continuation of their distribution range. Both species have been reported infesting humans (Jones et al., 1972; Smith, 1974). Because information is lacking regarding whether or not they act as vectors of pathogens, further studies are needed.

We acknowledge the support of INTA the Asociación Cooperadora INTA Rafaela to AG and SN, and to DGAPA–UNAM for the postdoctoral scholarship of the senior author. To Ricardo Paredes–León and Luis García–Prieto for the revision of the manuscript.


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