These ticks can live for years without food, up to nearly 30 years old

2022-05-28 0 By

Newly published research shows that the Argas Brumpti species of African ticks are hard to beat when it comes to longevity and long periods of not eating.Entomologist Julian Shepherd of Binghamton University in New York observed closely in the lab over 45 years and found that some of these ticks lived as long as 27 years — well above the average of two to three years for tick species.What’s more, some arachnids are able to survive for an astonishing eight years without any food, which is impressive even for creatures that have evolved not to eat or drink.As a last resort, one of the females lays eggs four years after the death of the last male.This is most likely because women are able to store men’s sperm for longer than normal.”The longevity of these ticks is clearly a record for any tick species,” Shepherd writes in a newly published paper outlining his findings.”The delay in reproduction may represent a long-term storage of viable sperm, which is clearly also a record for any tick.”The original ticks were a gift to Shepherd in 1976, and he kept them in a lab and observed them under stable conditions — 21 degrees Celsius, or 69.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and 81 percent relative humidity.The descendants of that original group are still alive and reproducing today.When food sources — rabbits, mice and mouse blood — ran out in 1984, hunger research began, and the last male tick died midway through an eight-year fast.”I’ve always been fascinated by how organisms adapt to their environment,” Shepherd says.”In this case, dry environments have little access to water for long periods of time, and lifestyles must wait long periods without food between encounters with host animals.”A. Brumpti is relatively large for ticks, measuring up to 20 mm (0.79 in).Traditionally, they often hang out in burrows, dust baths or termite mounds, looking for other animals (including humans) to snack on.However, while they do bite, they are not the cause of any known disease.These creatures also have soft and leathery skin, without the hard plates commonly found in ticks.Whether the offspring of the original ticks will ultimately live for how long remains to be determined — the younger ticks are now heading to South Africa to help with DNA research.”Studying how organisms respond to these challenges can help us understand how other organisms, including us, respond to similar challenges,” Shepherd said.Shepherd’s paper has been published in the Journal of Medical Entomology.