Relative importance of bird species as hosts for immature Ixodes dammini (Acari: Ixodidae) in a suburban residential landscape of southern New York State

J Med Entomol. 1993 Jul;30(4):740-7. doi: 10.1093/jmedent/30.4.740.


Abundance of birds and their tick parasites were estimated in a residential community located in Westchester County, NY, where Lyme disease is endemic. In total, 36 bird species (416 captures) were collected, of which 25 species (69%) were parasitized by ticks. Ixodes dammini Spielman, Clifford, Piesman & Corwin composed 96.4% of the 1,067 ticks found on birds. The bird species most heavily parasitized was house wren, Troglodytes aedon Vieillot (11.1 Ixodes dammini per bird). Relative density estimates of birds, using fixed circle radius counts, revealed dominance by the American robin, Turdus migratorius L. (29.3%), followed by the common grackle, Quiscalus quiscula (L.) (9.3%). Bird density estimates were combined with tick abundance data to calculate an importance value for each bird species as a host for immature I. dammini. The American robin was most important, accounting for 72.7% of all larval I dammini found on birds, followed by the common grackle (8.2%) and the house wren (5.9%). Both the American robin and house wren are reservoir competent for the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi Johnson, Schmid, Hyde, Steigerwalt & Brenner and therefore may contribute to the risk of Lyme disease for humans. During August when larvae were most prevalent, 39% of the American robins and 70% of the common grackles were observed on lawns. These species are probable contributors to nymphal I. dammini populations found on lawns.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild / parasitology
  • Birds / parasitology*
  • Female
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Larva
  • Lyme Disease / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Nymph
  • Population Density
  • Species Specificity
  • Ticks / growth & development*
  • Time Factors