Betsy has a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Memphis, M.S. from the University of Virginia, and B.S. from Mississippi State University. She has over 10 years of experience developing STEM curriculum and teaching physics, engineering, and biology.
What is Acarology?
In a wooded area just outside of town, Selina is preparing to collect some ticks. She puts on her boots and long pants and then gets a piece of fabric attached to a frame out of a sealed box in the back of her truck. Holding the frame, she starts walking through the woods, dragging the fabric behind her. After a few minutes, she checks the fabric and sees that she has successfully picked up some ticks, so she heads back to the truck to take them back to her lab.
While most people are happy to NOT pick up any ticks while walking in the woods, Selina went out looking for them! Why would she do that? Selina is interested in collecting ticks because she is a scientist that studies ticks and mites. The scientific study of ticks and mites is known as acarology, and scientists, like Selina, who study these tiny animals are called acarologists.
What are Ticks and Mites?
The types of animals studies by acarologists, ticks and mites, are both arachnids, which means that they have eight legs and are related to other arachnids like spiders and scorpions. Ticks live mainly outdoors in wooded areas, and they survive by attaching to an animal and drinking its blood. For this reason, ticks are often carriers of blood-borne diseases like Lyme Disease. Acarologists have an important role to play in helping us to understand the biology of ticks so that people can be protected from the diseases carried by ticks.
Unlike ticks, most mites do not pose much of a danger to human health. The majority of mite species eat tiny insects or decaying plant material, but a few species can bite animals and even humans. These usually live on or around birds and small rodents but can also infect people in some cases. The types of diseases caused by mites are usually much less serious than those caused by ticks, but cases of skin dermatitis are commonly caused by mite infestations.
History of Acarology
People have been living in close contact with ticks and mites for thousands of years. The earliest written description of a tick has been dated to about 1500 BC, and references to ticks occur throughout history in literature. However, it wasn't until the late nineteenth century that acarology began to be studied by scientists.
In the late 1800's and early 1900's, scientists began trying to classify ticks and mites by identifying different species, but acarology was not very popular until the 1950's. Then, in 1952, Edward Baker and George Wharton, two scientists known as the ''Fathers of Acarology,'' collaborated to write a very detailed book called An Introduction to Acarology. This important and useful book laid the foundation for modern acarology and attracted a lot more scientists into the field. A few years later, Baker and Wharton also began a summer training institute for young scientists interested in acarology at Ohio State University.
Today, there are scientific societies dedicated to the study of acarology throughout the world, and as a result, we have learned a lot more about ticks and mites than we knew when Wharton and Baker began their groundbreaking research. There is still a lot more to learn, though! Through the work of dedicated acarologists, we are learning more and more about ticks and mites every day. This research is important not only for providing us with a better understanding of these ever present creatures, but also for improving human health by preventing the transmission of tick-borne diseases and skin mite infestations.
Acarology is the scientific study of ticks and mites, and acarologists are scientists who study acarology. The study of acarology as a scientific discipline took off in the 1950's when two scientists, George Wharton and Edward Baker, published An Introduction to Acaraology. They also founded a training institute for future acarologists at Ohio State University. Since then, interest in acarology has spread throughout the world, helping us to learn more and more about ticks and mites. This knowledge has the potential to improve human health by reducing the transmission of tick-borne illnesses and skin mite infestations.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack