These studies were conducted to investigate the possible role of certain aspects of the on-host ecology and off-host survival of the sheep scab mite, Psoroptes ovis, in the dissemination of infestation. All developmental stages of the mite occurred in the fleece both proximally or distal to the skin of infested Merino and Dorper sheep. A larger proportion of mites was present in the fleece of Dorper sheep distal to the skin in the late afternoon and early morning than at other times during the day. Immature and adult mites readily transferred to tufts of wool or hair placed on infested sheep of both breeds. No mites could be found on wool or hair rubbed off onto tree trunks or branches or other structures in enclosures housing heavily infested sheep, nor could any mites be collected from the soil of these enclosures, whereas more than 80% of mites artificially seeded onto soil samples were recovered. The longest mean off-host survival times for larvae, nymphs, and male and ovigerous female mites were recorded at 10ºC, and were 9.25 days (RH=90%), 15 days (RH=33% and 75%), 10.5 days (RH=75% and 90%) and 11.25 days (RH=90%) respectively. Under natural climatic conditions ovigerous females in glass vials containing Merino wool survived for 17 days compared to 15 days for females in vials without wool; this difference was, however, not significant. The mean off-host pre-hatch period for eggs varied between 5.9 days (T=25ºC and RH=33%) and 22.1 days (T=10ºC and RH=75%), while the longest time individual eggs took to hatch at the latter temperature and RH was 31 days.
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