Ticks Needed!!

Tony Rebelo's picture

I need to collect fresh samples of African Ixodes, and if possible include some specimens from outside of Africa. The genus is in need of a modern treatment. So I will look into a revision/key as well as their phylogenetics/evolution and distribution modeling, niche characterisation etc...


I would like to request aid in tick sampling for my PhD on Ixodes ticks systematics, phylogenetics and biogeography.

I need to collect fresh samples of African Ixodes, and if possible include some specimens from outside of Africa. The genus is in need of a modern treatment. So I will look into a revision/key as well as their phylogenetics/evolution and distribution modeling/niche characterisation etc...

Seeing as this may be a bit of an ambitious project in terms of sampling, and that I would like to cover the group as comprehensively as possible, I would like to request the help of other scientists and friends to aid me in sampling fresh Ixodes ticks into absolute ethanol wherever said person may go.

I’ve attached some photos from Google images of various adult Ixodes ticks as well as one to roughly depict their general habitat type. I am looking for these in particular, but any fresh african tick material for DNA analysis is sorely lacking, so any indigenous tick will go a long way for future work. Back to Ixodes... Note the long mouthparts in the female (shorter dorsal shield) and the inornate shield in both sexes, some females are particularly hairy but not all Ixodes species are that hairy. Immatures are often found on rodents and hares, and adults can be commonly found on buck, birds and small carnivores. Also, some species are specific to bats. These ticks generally seem to like moist habitats and are often found in thick bush or forests, and along rivers.

I'm going to need any ticks in absolute ethanol for DNA material, with a pencil label for the locality, co-ordinates, collecting date, host (and attachment site) or vegetation type, and collector name. The specimens may be pooled in collection bottles by locality and date, I will sort species out, but I'd like to request that the total amount of ticks in a single collection bottle should not be more than 50% of the bottle. This is to allow for adequate preservation of the genetic material by having sufficient alcohol volume to properly absorb fluid from the specimens. Additionally, if you are willing, changing the alcohol after the first week or so will greatly aid in DNA preservation.

I want to stress that this collecting effort should be considered opportunistic and by no means do I want it to distract from your own work. This is a broad study, but even a single sample will contribute meaningfully.

Thanks in advance for any willingness to help me out on this project. Additionally, please contact me if there is anything I can collect for you in the field or try to identify, tick or otherwise. One hand washes the other.

Deon K. Bakkes
Tick Systematics - Junior Researcher
ARC-OVI, Onderstepoort

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Kobie du Preez's picture

some are so small...

But some are so small... how do you know the difference if you can barely see the pepper ticks? This sounds like a nice Dec holiday project for me.

Is it the reddish ones 2-3 mm ones that is needed?

Tony Rebelo's picture


Gigi asked: dont we need permits to collect ticks?

I dont know!
Do they need permits to bite us?

Colin Ralston's picture

Do you need a permit to

Do you need a permit to "discontinue" ticks found on your person? Having had several bouts of tick bite fever, i take revenge on them.

Colin Ralston

Gigi's picture

Alcohol overdose

Sounds like sweet revenge to me....

jwicht's picture

Have you....

worked out the logistics of this exercise?
Will you provide the absolute ethanol? (not available to the general public)
How will they be shipped to OP and at who's cost?

Deon K. Bakkes's picture

Happy to see the interest!

Hi all

I'm happy to see the interest in my work! Let's see if I can work out things here:

In general, I'm looking for ALL kinds of ticks. Big ones, small ones, red ones, yellow ones, colourful, drab.. you get the picture. The point is that there are many indigenous species in Africa that have limited DNA sequence representation, and even museum samples are few in some cases. The Ixodida are rife with taxonomic species problems, and sorting this out is very important for other work. Additonally, the so-called 'pepper ticks' are in fact the immature stages and relating these to the adult stages and species designation (either by breeding or molecular study) is very important. So far the focus has generally been on economically important species. But there is a general shift in biology today to consider biodiversity as a whole. Indeed, we need information on many indigenous species in order to fully understand their taxonomy, evolutionary relationships, history and indeed ecology, physiology and disease relationships. Essentially, a good phylogenetic backbone builds a baseline of knowledge to work from.

In terms of permits, no you don't need a permit to collect ticks - they're not considered endangered, but have not yet been assessed (poor little guys). However, if you sample from national parks you will need to have their permission. The same goes for land owner's consent. Breeding ticks requires permission, and we have this permission at Onderstepoort.

I neglected to place my contact details in the initial email, my mistake, If you're interested in helping me out, please email me at seventiaguitarist@gmail.com. We can discuss the logistsics on a one-to-one basis, either by my personal visit, or courier (which I will obviously pay for). Also, I am happy to provide absolute alcohol and collection bottles for people to collect ticks into.

At the following link is some general information for collecting ticks by Madder et al.


Many thanks all
Deon K. Bakkes

antmanhowes@gmail.com's picture


I can get you ticks!

Especially as I'm pulling them off once a week or so. From all over KZN.

What can I keep them in? Just a plastic far?