Parasitism of lizards by immature stages of the blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis (Acari, Ixodidae)

Exp Appl Acarol. 2002;26(3-4):257-66. doi: 10.1023/a:1021199914816.


From 1982-1985 and 1993-1999, a total of 309 individual reptiles, mostly lizards and snakes, belonging to 12 species (American alligator, six lizard species, five snake species) was captured on St. Catherine's Island, Liberty County, Georgia, USA, and examined for ticks. Three lizard species, the broad-headed skink Eumeces laticeps, southeastern 5-lined skink Eumeces inexpectatus, and eastern glass lizard Ophisaurus ventralis, were severely infested with larvae and nymphs of the blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis. Ticks were not found on any of the other reptile species. Overall, 80% of 65 E. inexpectatus examined were parasitized by a mean intensity of 21.5 larvae and 88% were parasitized by a mean intensity of 4.8 nymphs. Corresponding figures for E. laticeps (n=56) were 93% and 51.3 for larvae and 89% and 7.4 for nymphs, and for O. ventralis (n=3) were 67% and 22.5 for larvae and 100% and 21.3 for nymphs. Larvae and nymphs attached along the lateral grooves of O. ventralis. Nymphs attached mainly behind the ears and in the foreleg axillae whereas larvae mainly attached to these sites and on the hindlegs in Eumeces spp. Seasonally, both larvae and nymphs were recorded on lizards from April through October. A unimodal larval peak was recorded in May or June. Seasonal data for nymphs did not reveal any distinct peaks but small bimodal peaks in mean intensities may have occurred (one in early summer, the other in late summer) suggesting that some ticks complete their life cycle in one year, and others in two years, on St. Catherine's Island. Potential epidemiological consequences of these findings with respect to Lyme disease in the southeastern United States are briefly addressed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Geography
  • Georgia / epidemiology
  • Ixodes / growth & development*
  • Lizards / parasitology*
  • Seasons
  • Tick Infestations / epidemiology
  • Tick Infestations / veterinary*