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Drake-Brockman (1913B,1920) stated that this tick is found in
or near huts in British Somaliland but that it does not bite man there. From the United Provinces of India, Sen (1938) noted A.
rsicus "on bed (presumably can infest man)". "This species was reported from Quetta (India) where it was stated to infest houses and to bite human beings" (Warburton 1907). As stated above, Hoffman (1930), remarked that in Mexico A. persicus may bite man and animals in the absence of fowls, but #ls were not provided. In Korea, Kobayashi (1925) "examined certain specimens of Argas persicus . . . . . . . said to have stung men".
Old Iranian (Persian) reports that A. persicus is such a pest of human beings that whole villages have : to be moved, so widely quoted from Nuttall et al. (1908) who reviewed the earlier literature, hardly bear contemporary repetition. The evidence in all cases is circumstantial and based on hearsay. That these fables should have gained the stature of serious fact in most books of medical entomology is a reflection on methods of textbook factfinding. One writer has even gone so far as to throw in for good measure a large part of the African continent as a scourged area. Since 1890 there has been hardly a single published eyewitness or corroborated report of Argas persicus biting human beings that has not referred merely to isolated instances. Though some bites have been described as painful, only one or two have been shown to cause other sequelae.
Twentieth century Iran has not provided evidence to corrobo
rate the early apparent misrepresentations concerning the fowl tick. Carre (1909), in reporting on the frequency of larval attacks on chickens in Teheran did not mention that man is attacked. Harold (1922) expressed the belief that Ornithodoros lahorensis Neumann is actually responsible for painful bites attributed to A.
rsicus, in Iran ATcf. also Harold (1920)7. Dr. Baltazard, Direc# of the Pasteur Institute in Teheran, an outstanding student of argasid ticks and of their disease relations, informs me that he knows of no troubles from A. persicus in Iran so far as human beings are concerned. Delpy ti£ large numbers of A.
rsicus and 0. laborensis in and around peasant houses and stables near Persepolis in Iran but he did not mention bites of either species. Delpy and Kaweh (1937), however, record an actual observa. tion in Iran of a laboratory person who, when washing his hands, noted a large nymphal fowl tick biting him. The bite was painless but the victim succumbed to a bout of anthrax, demonstrated to have been transmitted by the attack.
In Palestine, Nicholson (1919) and Dunlop (1920) attributed human relapsing fever to bites of A. persicus. Their reports were based entirely on circumstantial evi ence ATcf. also Balfour (1920A,B), Woodcock (1920), MacKenzie (1920), etc.7. Experimental evidence negates this probability.
Members of my staff and I on several occasions have questioned people who spend much time in heavily infested parks and houses in and near Cairo without finding anyone who acknowledged being bitten.
Apparently reliable accounts of A. persicus infesting human huts in which chickens are also kept, : not infrequently biting persons, are those of Sergent and Foley (1910, 1922, 1939) from Algeria. Natives there refer to fleas and to the fowl argasid by the same name, Although the ticks are frequently associated with cases of human relapsing fever, they were proven by these observers to have a negative role in the transmission of spirochetes causing the disease.
There are a few scattered, apparently authentic reports of A.
rsicus biting man outside of Africa. One such, a vivid description enhanced by illustrations of the tick and of dark weals where the human victim was bitten, has been reported from Romania by Ciurea and Stephanescou (1929). The attacks occurred inexplicably in the upper stories of a new concrete apartment house and no chickens or pigeons were known to have been associated with the buildings.
With regard to the lively account of , attacks by "A. persicus" on indigent persons in Chile (Porter 1928), see A. reflexus, p."77.
Reptile and Amphibian Hosts
Although A. persicus always shows a predilection for avian blood, it will feed on toads if the skin of these animals is warmed,
according to Galli-Valerio (1911B). The blood is probably toxic for the ticks die afterwards.
The record of A. persicus from a tortoise in Iran (Michael
1899) is most probably based on misidentification or incorrect or incomplete specimen labelling.
Infestation of Human Habitations (Africa)
African records of A. persicus in huts of indigenous people (inferred presence of chickens in some huts) are: Annecke and Quinn (1952) for South Africa, Drake-Brockman (1913) for Somaliland, Sergent and Foley (1919, 1922, 1939) for Algeria, and Sudan records above. Lounsbury (1903B) stated that the fowl tick seldom occurs in South African houses unless chickens are kept close by.
Among the many references to some phase or other in the life cycle of A. persicus, some of the more important are: Lounsbury (1903B) for #: Nuttall et al. (1908) for laboratory observations, Olenev (1928A) for the Saratov area of Russia, Roveda (1940,1950) for Argentina, Bodenheimer (1934) on temperature and humidity tolerance, and Zuelzer (1920A,B,1921) on feeding, excretion, and life cycle. Hooker, Bishopp, and Wood (1912) contributed a detailed study of the life cycle in southern United States and reviewed earlier literature. These authors also provided data on growth and size of the fowl tick.
The life cycle in general under favorable conditions requires about four months.
Iarvae attach usually to the base of the host's wing. They feed there for five to ten days before dropping from the host and seeking shelter. Nymphs and adults become satiated in from five minutes to two hours and then seek a sheltered place in the building, yard, or tree in which they secrete themselves. Feeding is usually done at night, sometimes in subdued light, seldom if ever in strong light.
Coxal fluid is emitted within a few minutes after engorgement is complete and often while the tick is stationary or moving about the host, but only infrequently while the mouthparts are still inserted in the host's skin.
Digestion is extremely slow and fowl blood may be identified by the precipitin test for at least 23 months after ingestion (Gozony, Hindle, and Ross 1914).
The following notes are chiefly from Hooker, Bishöpp, and Wood (1912). Many more details may be found in their report.
Usually females oviposit after each meal, which may number up to six or seven in a lifetime. Under exceptional conditions, a female may require two blood meals before laying eggs. The greatest number of eggs deposited after the first few blood meals increases progressively from 195 to 646, but decreases after subsequent feedings to as few as 47 eggs following the seventh or last feeding. The average number of eggs laid after each engorgement was: first, 131; second, 159; third, 133; fourth, ll0; fifth, 97; sixth, 95; seventh, 47. Eggs are laid in the adult tick's retreat.
Oviposition generally commences four to ten days after feeding, in summer sometimes as early as the third day. In winter or in the absence of males, egg laying may be delayed for weeks or months. Oviposition of moderately large batches continues over a six to ten day period but only three days are required for depositing a small number of eggs. In nature it appears that the fowl argas seldom engorges and oviposits more than five times, unless females commence feeding early in the spring.
Incubation of eggs extends over an eight to eleven day period in warm summer weather, but in cooler climates or seasons this period is extended to three weeks or even longer.
As stated above, larvae generally feed for from five to ten days, but they may complete engorgement in three or four days, and Rohr (1909) recorded two days. There is some indication that quiet, setting hens allow the greatest number of larvae to thrive, and that different breeds of hosts exert no influence on larval development. In NAMRU-3 laboratories, Dr. Herbert S. Hurlbut (unpublished) is finding that only a moderate number of larvae kills chickens used in his experiments, apparently not doing so by transmission of pathogenic organisms or by exsanguination. Nymphs and adults resulting from these larvae have no observable deleterious effect on their hosts. Reasons for this exceptional larval toxic
ity have not yet been ascertained.
Larvae survive unfed for over five months in cool weather, but in Texas during midsummer they succumb in about two months. At 30°C. and 70%. R.H., unfed Egyptian larvae survive for up to thirty days (H. S. Hurlbut, personal communication).
Larvae molt to nymphs in warm summer weather about four days following completion of feeding.
Nymphs usually feed twice, in a matter of half an hour (sometimes two hours) and molt a week or two (sometimes longer) afterwards. Some nymphs undergo a third molt before reaching adulthood; this phenomenon cannot be correlated with sex, food supply, or climatic conditions. Unfed second instar nymphs survive up to a year but first instar nymphs are known to live for only up to nine months.
Female feeding has been discussed above. Copulation is similar to that described for Q. moubata (page 134).
Adults may live as long as three years without food (Laboulbene 1881) but this appears to be exceptional. Unfed adults generally succumb more rapidly than engorged adults, which normally appear to live from five to thirteen months, but which may on occasion survive longer.
Besides being a particularly intriguing study for some workers, the ability of the fowl tick to withstand starvation for long periods no doubt accounts in part for its wide distribution and large numbers. Observations made by Newman (1924) on longevity without food were summarized as follows: Test, l: An isolated female lived two years and three months, (2) it produced fertile eggs four months after isolation, and (3) larvae lived for three months. Test 2: (1) Males died four months after isolation, (2) first female died after two years and four months, (3) two females lived three years, (4) three females lived four years, and (5) the maximum time a female lived was four years and five months. Removal of fowls from a house or yard is in itself of little use in ridding the premises Of ticks.
Larval survival without food for 228 days at 22°C. to 26°C. and 90% to 100% relative humidity was reported by Roveda (1940). At temperatures of 37°C. to 38°C. and at relative humidities of 85% to 100% larval survival was reduced to an average of 50 days.