How specific are host-produced kairomones to host-seeking ixodid ticks?

Exp Appl Acarol. 2002;28(1-4):155-61. doi: 10.1023/a:1025355811372.


Ixodid ticks respond to host-produced substances (kairomones) that influence the ticks' host-finding behavior. In the laboratory adult blacklegged ticks, Ixodes scapularis Say, lone star ticks, Amblyomma americanum L., and American dog ticks, Dermacentor variabilis (Say) became akinetic on residues rubbed from their principal hosts (deer for the former two species and dogs for the latter). However, arrestment also occurred when adults of these species were tested using the same method bioassay, but with host substances reversed (i.e., I. scapularis and A. americanum against canine substances, and D. variabilis against deer gland substances). Although adult D. variabilis exhibited arrestant responses to deer substances and are often found along trails used by deer, they apparently make little use of deer as hosts. It is unclear whether responding to deer-produced kairomones may have disadvantages for D. variabilis. Until the active components of host-produced arrestment kairomones are isolated, identified and evaluated in behavioral tests, this host-finding strategy remains only partially understood.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior / physiology
  • Biological Assay
  • Deer / metabolism
  • Deer / parasitology*
  • Dogs / metabolism
  • Dogs / parasitology*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Ixodidae / physiology*
  • Pheromones / physiology*


  • Pheromones