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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Responses of Adult Ixodes Scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae) to Urine Produced by White-Tailed Deer of Various Reproductive Conditions

item Carroll, John

Submitted to: Journal of Medical Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 23, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The blacklegged ticks, Ixodes scapularis, is the principal vector of Lyme disease in the eastern U.S. The ticks find hosts aided by chemical cues associated with host animals. We tested 5 types of white-tailed deer urine to determine whether adult I. scapularis responded to urine residues by becoming kinetic on them. Female ticks become kinetic on residues from reproductively active buck, does in estrous, and from urine from buck scrapes. Ticks did not respond positively to urine under high humidity. These findings are of interest to researchers studying tick host-finding behavior. Strategies may be developed to use urine-derived chemicals to trap ticks or disrupt their host-finding activity in areas frequented by human and domesticated animals.

Technical Abstract: The responses of adult female blacklegged ticks, Ixodes scapularis Say to urine from white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmerman), belonging to 4 reproductive categories (doe in heat, doe out of season, reproductive (dominant) buck, young buck) and urine from buck scrapes were studied in laboratory behavioral bioassays. In high humidity ((95% R.H.) in a glove box there were no statistically significant arrestment responses to any of the 5 types of urine, but an avoidance response was observed to urine from reproductive bucks. When ticks were exposed to urine samples in open desiccator jars at (50% R.H., significant arrestant responses by the ticks were elicited by urine from does in heat and reproductive bucks and by urine from buck scrapes. Adult I. scapularis may use deer urine as a chemical cue in selecting host-ambush sites.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015
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