The Haller’s organ plays a crucial role in a tick’s ability to detect hosts. Even though this sensory organ is vital to tick survival, the morphology of this organ is not well understood. The objective of this study was to characterize variation in the morphological components of the Haller’s organ of three medically important tick species using quantitative methods. The Haller’s organs of Ixodes scapularis Say (Ixodida: Ixodidae) (black-legged tick), Amblyomma americanum (L.) (Ixodida: Ixodidae) (lone star tick), and Dermacentor variabilis (Say) (Ixodida: Ixodidae) (American dog tick) were morphologically analyzed using environmental scanning electron microscopy and geometric morphometrics, and the results were statistically interpreted using canonical variate analysis. Our data reveal significant, quantitative differences in the morphology of the Haller’s organ among all three tick species and that in D. variabilis the sensory structure is sexually dimorphic. Studies like this can serve as a quantitative basis for further studies on sensor physiology, behavior, and tick species life history, potentially leading to novel methods for the prevention of tick-borne disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-552
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of medical entomology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2018


  • Amblyomma americanum
  • Dermacentor variabilis
  • Geometric morphometrics
  • Haller’s organ
  • Ixodes scapularis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • General Veterinary
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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