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Eutrombicula alfreddugesi (Acari: Trombiculidae): new host records from four species of lizards in the Sierra de Jimulco, Coahuila, Mexico.

Understanding the distribution and host relationships of mites includes their potential importance as disease vectors in humans. Eutrombicula alfreddugesi is an ectoparasitic chigger mite of a large number of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals (Philips, 2000; de Carvalho et al., 2006; Lareschi, 2006; Paredes-Leon et al., 2006, 2008; Rubio and Simonetti, 2009). This species has medical importance because it causes trombidiasis (trombiculiasis) in humans, a skin disease that produces a characteristic itching and inflammation that is particularly frequent in children (De la Cruz and Abreu, 1986; Potts, 2001). This chigger mite has been reported throughout the Western Hemisphere from southern Canada to Argentina and the Caribbean Islands (Daniel and Stekol'nikov, 2004). There have been records of E. alfreddugesi from 30 states in Mexico (Hoffmann, 1990; Paredes-Leon et al., 2008).

In May 2009, I captured 14 lizards (five Gerrhonotus infernalis, three Sceloporus poinsetti, three Sceloporus jarrovii, and three Sceloporus grammicus) from the Sierra de Jimulco, Municipality of Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico (25[degrres]11'37"N, 103[degrees]18'41"W). Dominant vegetation here was submontane scrub (1,700-3,100 m elevation; Rhus virens, Mortonia greggi, Juniperus flacida, Quercus, Fraxinus, and Arbutus) on limestone substrate. Lizards were captured with a noose or by hand and were transported in fabric bags to the Escuela Superior de Biologia, Universidad Juarez del Estado de Durango. All individuals of the four species of lizards had red mites.

Mites were removed in the laboratory using wetted (ethanol) cotton swabs. The red color of the mites facilitated counting them on the surface of the cotton with a magnifying glass and then collecting them in 70% ethanol for later taxonomic identification. Lizards were deposited in the Museo de Zoologia Alfonso L. Herrera, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, and mites were deposited in the Vertebrate Laboratory of the Escuela Superior de Biologia, Universidad Juarez del Estado de Durango.

Gerrhonotus infernalis had a large number of mites in small clusters from the sides of the neck along the length of the flanks, protected in the granular fold that is characteristic of Anguidae (Fig. 1a). Mean number of chigger mites on this species was 566.0 (SE = 136.6; range = 180-850). The three species of Sceloporus had ectoparasites in the neck region, inside folds behind the eardrums (Fig. 1b). Sceloporus grammicus also had mites attached between dorsal scales of the tail. Mean number of chigger mites on S. poinsetti was 63.3 (SE = 6.5; range = 54-76), on S. jarrovii mean was 140.3 (SE = 15.4; range = 75-257), and on S. grammicus mean was 7.0 (SE = 2.6; range = 1-13) on the neck region, and 16.5 (SE = 3.8; range = 10-23) on the tail.

In the laboratory, 15 mites from each species of lizard were selected at random. Mites were cleared with lactophenol and mounted on semi-permanent slides with Hoyer's medium (Krantz and Walter, 2009). Mites were identified as Eutrombicula alfreddugesi following Hoffmann (1990), based on characters such as five scutal setae, the pedipal formula B/N(B)/NNB, 22 dorsal setae (2 humerals +6,6,4,2,2), three genuelae I, one mastitarsala, and absence of mastitibiala.

Host-seeking larvae and adults of E. alfreddugesi occur in areas of low-to-moderate temperature, high relative humidity, little incidence of sunlight, and dense vegetation (Clopton and Gold, 1993). In the submontane scrub of the Sierra de Jimulco, the types and abundance of vegetation and other available substrates create shaded and moist microhabitats (rock crevices, leaf litter, bushes) that may support this species of mite at this locality. These observations add to the known hosts of this mite in Mexico. Given the wide distribution of E. alfreddugesi, its large variety of hosts, and their medical importance with respect to humans, it is important to document the biological and ecological relationships of ectoparasitism by this mite on the herpetofauna of this region.

I thank J. Castaneda, D. Salcido, M. Borja, G. Castaneda, U. Garcia, and J. Valenzuela for help in the field. R Paredes-Leon and C.W. Barrows made important suggestions to improve the manuscript. This study was part of the GT008 project funded by Consejo Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad.


Associate Editor was Jerry L. Cook.

Submitted 10 February 2010. Accepted 2 October 2010.


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Cristina Garcia-Dela Pena

Laboratorio de Vertebrados, Escuela Superior de Biologia, Universidad Juarez del Estado de Durango, Avenida Universidad s/n. Fraccionamiento Filadelfia, C.P. 35010, Gomez Palacio, Durango, Mexico
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Title Annotation:Notes
Author:Garcia-De la Pena, Cristina
Publication:Southwestern Naturalist
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1MEX
Date:Mar 1, 2011
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