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Exp Appl Acarol. 2002;28(1-4):155-61.

How specific are host-produced kairomones to host-seeking ixodid ticks?

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  • 1Parasite Biology, Epidemiology and Systematics Laboratory, ARS, USDA, Beltsville Agricultural Research Service, Building 1040, Beltsville, Maryland 20705, USA.


Ixodid ticks respond to host-produced substances (kairomones) that influence the ticks' host-finding behavior. In the laboratory adult blacklegged ticks, Ixodes scapularis Say, lone star ticks, Amblyomma americanum L., and American dog ticks, Dermacentor variabilis (Say) became akinetic on residues rubbed from their principal hosts (deer for the former two species and dogs for the latter). However, arrestment also occurred when adults of these species were tested using the same method bioassay, but with host substances reversed (i.e., I. scapularis and A. americanum against canine substances, and D. variabilis against deer gland substances). Although adult D. variabilis exhibited arrestant responses to deer substances and are often found along trails used by deer, they apparently make little use of deer as hosts. It is unclear whether responding to deer-produced kairomones may have disadvantages for D. variabilis. Until the active components of host-produced arrestment kairomones are isolated, identified and evaluated in behavioral tests, this host-finding strategy remains only partially understood.

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