The ectoparasites of brushtail possum Trichosurus vulpecula in New Zealand

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1997
Authors:J. M. Clark, Heath, D. D., Stankiewicz, M.
Journal:New Zealand Journal of Zoology
Pagination:199 - 204
Date Published:1997
Keywords:Acari, biology, control, ectoparasite, lice, mites, new, new zealand, Trichosurolaelaps, vector, womersley

The ectoparasites of the brushtail possum Trichosurus vulpecula were examined at 15 original release sites in New Zealand. Three species of fur mite-A tellana papilio Domrow, 1958, Petrogalochirus dycei (Domrow, 1960), and Murichirus anabiotus Domrow, 1992-were present in all population samples from the North, South, Stewart, and Kawau Islands. M. anabiotus was absent from the Chatham Islands. A. papilio was isolated from 82 (98%) of the 84 digested pelts, P. dycei from 78 (93%) of 84, and M. anabiotus was found in 67 (93%) of the 72 pelts digested from populations where the mites were present. The follicle mite Marsupiopus Trichosuri Fain, 1968 was detected in two (7%) and one (3%) of pelts examined from Kawau Island and the Orongorongo Valley, respectively. Trichosurolaelaps crassipes Womersley, 1956 was present on 99% of possums and absent only from Kawau Island. Nymphs and larvae of the cattle tick Haemaphysalis longicornis were isolated from four (33%) of the 12 Northland pelts. The loss of ectoparasitic mites resulting from the transfer of possums from their native Australia to New Zealand has been minimal in mites with a direct life cycle. Acariasis of the rump and tail was attributed to M. trichosuri, and A. papilio is implicated in fur breakage.

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