An inexpensive and efficient method for artificially feeding all the lifecycle stages of the tick Ornithodoros moubata on sheep blood in vitro was
demonstrated. Two types of membranes were tested: a silicone membrane and a
Parafilm membrane. There was a significant difference between the two membranes.
Parafilm membrane was the better of the two. An artificial feeding device
incorporating a Parafilm membrane was constructed and optimised for tick attachment
and feeding. It was found that the ticks fed and engorged successfully through the
Parafilm membrane without the need for the addition of a phagostimulant. Repletion
and feeding survival rates of O. moubata using two different intervals between
feeding were also compared. The tick survival rates for three monthly feeding
intervals were significantly higher than for monthly feeding. All life cycle stages
attached and began sucking blood within 5-10 minutes, generally becoming fully
engorged within 10-90 minutes. Unwanted bacterial contamination in blood of what
was avoided by changing the blood every 2 hours during tick feeding. The best
feeding and survival rates were achieved with a constant mean blood temperature of
37 °C. The importance of the finding in the maintenance of the ticks in the laboratory
was discussed.
Keywords: Ornithodoros moubata, artificially feeding, Parafilm membrane

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