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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Interdigital Gland Substances of White-Tailed Deer and Host-Seeking Ticks

Author
item Carroll, John

Submitted to: Journal of Medical Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 15, 2000
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The blacklegged tick Ixodes scapularis Say, is the principal vector of Lyme disease in the Eastern U.S. Substances from external glands on the legs of white-tailed deer, primary host of adult black-legged ticks, aid ticks in finding optimal vantage points where they can wait for hosts. Responses of I. scapularis and lone start ticks, Amblyomma americanum, to substances from interdigital glands on deer's feed were evaluated in laboratory behavioral trials. Adult I. scapularis of both sexes and male A. americanum preferentially came to rest on capillary tubes treated with substances from interdigital glands from fore and hind legs of deer, whereas I. scapularis nymphs and A. americanun females did not show such an arrestant response. These data are of interest to researchers in that they show that ticks can probably locate deer trails or areas frequented by deer and wait there for hosts. It might be possible to identify chemicals in the gland secretions that could be used to mislead ticks from genuine deer trails and reduce the likelihood of their obtaining the blood meal essential to their survival.

Technical Abstract: Host-seeking male and female blacklegged ticks, Ixodes scapularis Say, exhibited an arrestant response to substances from front and rear interdigital glands from male and female white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmermann). Female I. scapularis responded positively to substances from interdigital glands on the fore legs and hind legs of female deer, whereas male I. scapularis responded only to samples from the fore legs of does. Nymphs of I. scapularis and female lone star ticks, Amblyomma americanum (L.) did not show an arrestant response to substances from hind legs of does, but male A. americanum did.

Last Modified: 10/25/2014
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