Southeastern US: Ixodes scapularis-Lizard Associations

A recent article published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, describes host associations of larval and nymphal Ixodes scapularis (blacklegged ticks) collected from eight lizard species. Researchers collected from 2 to 3 sampling arrays at 5 field sites in the southeastern US, including North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, and Florida. Samples were collected at each site every third week in 2011 and 2012.

As questing behavior and host associations of immature blacklegged ticks in the NE are known to differ from ticks in the SE, researchers attempt to shed light on this observation. Findings of this study show that immature ticks (larvae and nymphs) attached in greater numbers to larger lizards than to smaller lizards. They also found different levels of attachment with different lizard species, with the highest numbers of larvae and nymphs attached to skinks of the genus Plestiodon and substantially lower numbers on anoles, fence lizards, and racerunners. There remains a question as to whether these findings are due to behavioral host preferences or if  ecological factors such as timing or microhabitat distributions of tick questing and host activity may have influence. 

Read full article here

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