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Biological control of ticks

  • M. SAMISH (a1), H. GINSBERG (a2) and I. GLAZER (a3)

Ticks have numerous natural enemies, but only a few species have been evaluated as tick biocontrol agents (BCAs). Some laboratory results suggest that several bacteria are pathogenic to ticks, but their mode of action and their potential value as biocontrol agents remain to be determined. The most promising entomopathogenic fungi appear to be Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana, strains of which are already commercially available for the control of some pests. Development of effective formulations is critical for tick management. Entomopathogenic nematodes that are pathogenic to ticks can potentially control ticks, but improved formulations and selection of novel nematode strains are needed. Parasitoid wasps of the genus Ixodiphagus do not typically control ticks under natural conditions, but inundative releases show potential value. Most predators of ticks are generalists, with a limited potential for tick management (one possible exception is oxpeckers in Africa). Biological control is likely to play a substantial role in future IPM programmes for ticks because of the diversity of taxa that show high potential as tick BCAs. Considerable research is required to select appropriate strains, develop them as BCAs, establish their effectiveness, and devise production strategies to bring them to practical use.

Corresponding author
Michael Samish, PhD, Dept. of Parasitology, Kimron Veterinary Inst., Bet Dagan 50250, P.O. Box 12, Israel. Tel: 972-3-9681690. Fax: 972-3-9681753. E-mail:
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