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This paper presents a general model for analyzing the characteristics of routing control traffic and the influences of changing network parameters on these characteristics in mobile ad-hoc networks that use on-demand routing protocols. It provides an analytical framework for studying the features of control traffic due to mobility, node density and data traffic etc. Using this model, we found that: 1) there is an "stabilization" process in the spread of control traffic in MANETs, 2) clusters exist in mobile ad-hoc network, 3) there are backbone nodes, serving as a gateway to relay RREQ packets between different clusters. The analysis presented in this paper can be used for designing novel and efficient heuristic routing protocols for mobile ad-hoc networks.