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Ixodes Scapularis Found Infesting Big Brown Bats in New York

Big Brown BatsJames L. Occi, et al., recently published in the Journal of Medical Entomology regarding unusual findings of the three-host tick, Ixodes scapularis Say. Historically, this pervasive tick has been documented feeding on over 150 different species of terrestrial (land-dwelling) vertebrates including mammals, birds, and reptiles.

Found throughout the northeastern, coastal southeastern, and upper midwestern United States, I. scapularis has an extensive host range and is regarded as the most significant vector of tick-borne pathogens to humans in North America. However, it has never been reported feeding on bats (mammals of the order Chiroptera).

In 2019 and 2020, I. scapularis larvae and nymphs were retrieved from big brown bats, Eptesicus fuscus, at four locations in rural areas of New York State. Each of the Ixodes-infested bats were injured and located on the ground; thus, making possible opportunistic parasitism by I. scapularis.

LDA NOTE: J.L. Occi is a long-time member of the Lyme Disease Association’s Scientific & Professional Advisory Board.

Photo: Unidentified bats from the Public Health Image Library

Read the research study in Journal of Medical Entomology.

Read about other ticks that feed on Big Brown Bats.