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19 November 2020 Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae) Nymphal Survival and Host-Finding Success in the Eastern United States
Danielle M. Tufts, Max McClure, Maria A. Diuk-Wasser
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The blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis Say) is the primary vector of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto (Spirochaetales: Spirochaetaceae), the Lyme disease agent in North America. The basic reproduction number (R0) for B. burgdorferi in I. scapularis in the Northeast is highly sensitive to the probability that engorged larvae survive the winter, molt into nymphs, and find a host. These processes are dependent on local environmental variables, including climate, h-ost population size and movement, and tick behavior. A simple model is presented for estimating host-finding success from the ratio of tick abundance in two subsequent years, accounting for overwinter survival and possible differences in host associations between nymphs and larvae. This model was parameterized using data from two sites in mainland Connecticut and two on Block Island, RI. Host abundance and tick burdens were estimated via mark–recapture trapping of the primary host, Peromyscus leucopus Rafinesque. Overwintering survival was estimated using engorged larvae placed in field enclosures at each site. Only nymphs were recovered alive, and no significant differences in model parameters were observed between Connecticut and Block Island. Host-finding success was predicted to be high across a wide range of host association patterns at three of four sites. Assuming equivalent host association between larvae and nymphs, R0 was also estimated to be greater than one at three of four sites, suggesting these conditions allow for the persistence of B. burgdorferi. The model output was highly sensitive to differences between nymphal and larval host associations.

© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:
Danielle M. Tufts, Max McClure, and Maria A. Diuk-Wasser "Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae) Nymphal Survival and Host-Finding Success in the Eastern United States," Journal of Medical Entomology 58(2), 929-938, (19 November 2020).
Received: 12 November 2019; Accepted: 3 October 2020; Published: 19 November 2020

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blacklegged tick
Borrelia burgdorferi
Lyme disease
Peromyscus leucopus
white-footed mouse
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