Reduced abundance of Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae) and Lyme disease risk by deer exclusion

J Med Entomol. 1993 Nov;30(6):1043-9. doi: 10.1093/jmedent/30.6.1043.


The effect of deer exclosures upon the numbers of immature Ixodes scapularis Say, the vector of Lyme disease in the eastern United States, was examined at five sites in Westchester County, NY. Study areas ranged in size from 6 to 101 ha where deer had been excluded for a period of 25 yr by > 2.4-m-high fencing that surrounded each site. A total area of 40,506 m2 was drag-sampled during the study to measure tick abundance. Nymphal densities (ticks per 1,000 m2) averaged 4.6 (range, 1.3-9.6) inside exclosures and 27.7 (range, 7.3-79.4) outside. Larval densities averaged 36.7 (range, 1.2-132.1) inside exclosures and 354.4 (range, 7.5-914.5) outside. Comparisons between exclosure sites and outside areas immediately adjacent to the exclosure fence, where deer had unrestricted access, revealed that exclosures had 83% fewer host-seeking nymphs and 90% fewer host-seeking larvae. Tick numbers inside exclosures did not always decline with increasing distance from the fence. There was no significant difference in the rate of Borrelia burgdorferi Johnson, Schmid, Hyde, Steigerwalt & Brenner infection for host-seeking ticks collected inside (20%, n = 50) exclosures compared with ticks collected outside (26%, n = 50) exclosures. Deer fencing may provide a means of significantly reducing the abundance of I. scapularis and the risk of Lyme disease in relatively large areas without the need to reduce or eliminate the deer population.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild
  • Deer*
  • Lyme Disease / epidemiology*
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Nymph
  • Population Dynamics
  • Risk Factors
  • Tick Control / methods*
  • Ticks