Submitted to: Journal of Medical Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 10, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Blacklegged ticks are the primary vectors of the pathogens causing Lyme disease and human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE) in the eastern and central U.S. Acquiring a suitable host is of utmost importance to tick for survival and reproduction. Substances associated with external gland on the legs of white-tailed deer aid adult blacklegged ticks in finding sites where they wait for hosts. Samples rubbed from deer metatarsal glands gave equivocal results in previous tests as an arrestant to tick wandering. Because deer leg glands become moist when the animals walk through wet vegetation, we conducted behavioral tests to ascertain whether moistened metatarsal gland substances elicited an arrestant response in blacklegged ticks. In two different behavioral bioassays adult blacklegged ticks of both sexes exhibited strong arrestant responses to metatarsal gland samples transferred to glass rods in an aqueous solution/suspension. These data suggest that adult blacklegged ticks may find residues of metatarsal gland substances on vegetation and wait there to contact a host. Researchers studying tick host-finding behavior will be interested in this study. Also, these results can contribute to the development of novel techniques and strategies for keeping host-seeking ticks from areas frequented by humans and domestic animals.
Technical Abstract: In 2 different laboratory bioassays, aqueous wipes of metatarsal glands of white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmermann) elicited an arrestant response in adult blacklegged ticks, Ixodes scapularis Say of both sexes. Moisture may enhance the transfer of metatarsal gland substances. If residues of metatarsal gland substances on vegetation and substrate can be washed away by precipitation, it may benefit host-seeking ticks by preventing an accumulation of kairomonal residues in isolated locations away from regularly used trails and feeding and bedding areas.