We studied disease progression of, and host responses to, four species in the Metarhizium anisopliae complex expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP). We compared development and determined their relative levels of virulence against two susceptible arthropods, the cattle tick Rhipicephalus annulatus and the lepidopteran Galleria mellonella, and two resistant ticks, Hyalomma excavatum and Rhipicephalus sanguineus. Metarhizium brunneum Ma7 caused the greatest mortality of R. annulatus, Metarhizium robertsii ARSEF 2575 and Metarhizium pingshaense PPRC51 exhibited intermediate levels of virulence, and Metarhizium majus PPRC27 caused low mortality of cattle ticks. Conidia of all four species germinated on all hosts examined, but on resistant hosts, sustained hyphal growth was inhibited and GFP emission steadily and significantly decreased over time, suggesting a loss of fungal viability. Cuticle penetration was observed only for the three most virulent species infecting susceptible hosts. Cuticles of resistant and susceptible engorged female ticks showed significant increases in red autofluorescence at sites immediately under fungal hyphae. This is the first report (i) of tick mortality occurring after cuticle penetration but prior to haemocoel colonization and (ii) that resistant ticks do not support development of Metarhizium germlings on the outer surface of the cuticle. Whether reduced Metarhizium viability on resistant tick cuticles is due to antibiosis or limited nutrient availability is unknown.