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Common Name: Cattle Tick

Scientific Name: Rhipicepalus microplus

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida

Order: Acari

Family: Ixodida

Genus: Rhipicepalus

Species: R. microplus


Many people already know what a tick is, but there is a tick that causes millions of dollars to the economy and has thousands upon thousands of its kind sucking the life out of their host right now. That tick’s name is Rhipicepalus microplus or commonly known as the Cattle tick.  Many of the Cattle tick’s features are very life threatening to livestock but also very interesting to scientists everywhere. This menace was native to Southeast Asia and spread as far as the United States. The amazing and deadly features of the Cattle Tick will shock and amaze you.


Rhipicepalus microplus is a parasitic tick that feeds mostly on livestock and wild mammals like deer, pigs, cows, sheep, donkeys, horses, etc and the occasional humans if you’re not careful. Adult female cattle ticks are typically 15mm width (including legs) and males are only 11mm. These hard-shelled ticks have a dorsal shield and their mouth stick out when they are seen from above. Their bases are hexagonal or oval. There are only three stages of the Cattle tick. The first stage, of the life cycle, is larvae. The tick is short and straight with a brown to cream body color and only has six legs. Once it has found a host the larvae has now turned into a nymph. Nymphs have orange to brown color and the body shape is more oval.  The last stage is the adult. The adult has eight legs and apple cream color. The body is oval to rectangular and wider at the front. After it molts twice into an adult the tick can live three to four months without feeding. I’m glad these things aren’t the size of a dog!


Cattle ticks are found worldwide in subtropical and tropical areas and are rarely found in Europe. They originated from Southeast Asia. The ticks have an enormous population even though there are many vaccines. The female’s reproduction is at a higher rate than the vaccines’ death rate. The government has tried multiple vaccines on the Cattle tick infestation and has saved $23.40 per animal per year. Not only do have vaccines but, acaricide treatments that are very harmful to the ticks. However, ranches or farms infested with the ticks can take up to six to nine months trying to quarantine the whole place. Once the whole farm has been quarantined livestock is given many doses of acaricide treatments to keep the diseases out of the animal’s bloodstream, so it won’t die. But the ticks have gotten smarter. Since the government produced treatments, the cattle ticks have adapted to the vaccines by cross-breeding with the Zebu tick. Even with the cross-breeding, the Cattle tick still retains many of its physical characteristics. Hopefully, the C.D.C. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) will come up with the vaccine for the animals. This tick is also an economic destroyer; it can destroy millions of dollars of livestock which could prove bad for the economy.


Cattle ticks, as you may know, are parasitic, therefore, they must feed off of other animals. When a female is feeding on its host she puts, babesail parasites into the bloodstream, soon it attaches itself to the host like a tapeworm. After leaving the bloodstream the parasite attaches itself to the host’s gut and produces larger parasites that continue to eat the host. Soon after that, the parasites are multiplying again and still remain undetected as they lay their eggs. After the larvae have hatched they continue to feed on the host and will either infect the host full of diseases than die or will continue eating the host till it is dead. Luckily there is a predator that can stop the Cattle Tick, the guinea hen. These little guys look like a turkey and are native to Africa. Many people with tick problems breed or buy guinea hens for all their pests needs. From spiders to ticks to beetles, the guinea hen will peck at that pest problem for sure. To avoid being eaten by predators the Cattle Tick simply camouflages in a dead pile of leaves or bale of hay. This tick proves to be a worthy adversary against the guinea hen.


The importance of this animal is to exterminate them for good. They are a pest, menace, and economic crusher all into one 11mm tick.  It is destructive to the animal’s health and to the economy that depends on the animal. What stood out the most was how this tick can take down a cow from the inside and how it purposely crossbreeds with another tick species to avoid vaccines.


Author: Ethan C

Published: 02/2012


Bibliography: De La Fuente, M Rodríguez, M Redondo, C Montero, J C García-García, …L Méndez, E Serrano, M Valdés, 

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