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J Vector Ecol. 2005 Jun;30(1):91-101.

Effectiveness of Metarhizium anisopliae (Deuteromycetes) against Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae) engorging on Peromnyscus leucopus.

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Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Box AB (Route 44A), Millbrook, NY 12754 5-0129, USA.


With the incidence of Lyme disease increasing throughout the United States, reducing risk of exposure to the disease is of the utmost concern. In the northeastern U.S., the blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, is the primary vector and the white-footed mouse, (Peromyscus leucopus), the primary reservoir for Borrelia burgdorteri, the bacterium causing Lyme disease. Targeting I. scapularis engorging on white-footed mice with an effective biological control agent, such as the fungus Metarhizium anisopliae, could be an effective and relatively safe control technique. In 2002-2003, we performed laboratory and field experiments to determine whether M anisopliae-treated nesting material could effectively control larval I. scapularis ticks engorging on white-footed mice, and therefore reduce the number of infected nymphal I. scapularis questing the following summer. Our laboratory experiment demonstrated a strong negative effect of M. anisopliae-treated nesting material on survival of I. scapularis larvae feeding on P. leucopus, with 75% versus 35% larval mortality in treatment versus control nests. Our field trials caused only modest, localized reductions in nymphal abundance and had no effect on the proportion of nymphal I. scapularis infected with B. burgdorferi. Field results probably could be improved by increasing the density of nestboxes to allow fungal delivery to a higher proportion of the mouse population and by deploying nestboxes in an area with lower mammalian diversity, such as a suburban landscape.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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