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J Med Entomol. 1995 Jul;32(4):453-66.

Ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) infesting wild birds (Aves) and white-footed mice in Lyme, CT.

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Department of Entomology, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven 06504, USA.


Birds were captured and recaptured (20.8% of 5,297) with Japanese mist nets, and white-footed mice, Peromyscus leucopus (Rafinesque), were caught and recaught (69.1% of 355) with Sherman box traps during the late spring, summer, and early fall from July 1989 through October 1991 to study tick-host relationships in Lyme, CT. Ixodes scapularis Say, a vector of Lyme disease spirochetes, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto Johnson, Schmid, Hye, Steigerwalt & Brenner, infested 803 birds (15.2%) in 36 species and 148 (40.3%) of the mice. This tick dominated both birds (94.4% of 4,065 ticks) and mice (82.6% of 529 ticks). Other ticks that were recovered from birds were Haemaphysalis leporispaustris (Packard) (23 birds in seven species), I. dentatus Marx (34 birds in 14 species), and Dermacentor variabilis (Say) (two birds in two species). The latter was also collected from 12.7% of the 355 mice (n = 92 ticks). Infestations of I. scapularis were high for worm-eating warblers (30.6% of 111), ovenbirds (44.4% of 286), common yellowthroats (27.1% of 188), hooded warblers (35% of 80), Carolina wrens (50.9% of 110), house wrens (21.6% of 102), wood thrushes (23.0% of 867), veeries (32.5% of 246), and American robins (36.2% of 69). Coinfestation by larvae and nymphs of I. scapularis was significantly high for Carolina wrens (35.7% of 56 infested individuals), veeries (27.2% of 80), American robins (29.4% of 25), and common grackle (19.0% of 5), possibly enhancing transmission of B. burgdorferi. Mean crowding on larvae by nymphs, measured by Lloyd's index (1967), was highest for these four species (range 1.19-5.76). Seasonal patterns of infestation for each species of bird can account for much of the differences in degree of coinfestation. High infection rates by B. burgdorferi in larvae removed from some of these birds (14.9-20.0%) were found on those birds with both high numbers of larvae and nymphs. Spirochetemia in most avian hosts may be short and only certain species with concurrent infestations of nymphs and larvae may function effectively as reservoirs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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